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From the Hardcover edition.
Winner of the 2013 Books for a Better Life Green Award
“A thrilling journey through the twists and turns of cancer epidemiology, Toms River is essential reading for our times. Dan Fagin handles topics of great complexity with the dexterity of a scholar, the honesty of a journalist, and the dramatic skill of a novelist.”—Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
“This hard-hitting account of cancer epidemiology in the New Jersey town of Toms River is a triumph.”—Nature
“In an account equal parts sociology, epidemiology, and detective novel, veteran environmental journalist Dan Fagin chronicles the ordeal of this quiet coastal town, which for decades was a dumping ground for chemical manufacturers. Fagin’s compelling book raises broader questions about what communities are willing to sacrifice in the name of economic development.”—Mother Jones
“As Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks investigated the tragic impact that unethical scientific pursuits had on a family, Toms River unravels the careless environmental practices that damaged a community. . . . Features jaw-dropping accounts of senseless waste-disposal practices set against the inspiring saga of the families who stood up to the enormous Toms River chemical plant. The fate of the town, we learn, revolves around the science that cost its residents so much.”—Booklist
“A crisp, hard-nosed probe into corporate arrogance and the power of public resistance makes this environmental caper essential reading.”—Publishers Weekly
“An award-winning science journalist exposes how corporate interests and corrupt politicians almost turned a quiet, suburban New Jersey beach community into a toxic wasteland. . . . A gripping environmental thriller.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Toms River is an epic tale for our chemical age. Dan Fagin has combined deep reporting with masterful storytelling to recount an extraordinary battle over cancer and pollution in a New Jersey town. Along the way—as we meet chemists, businessmen, doctors, criminals, and outraged citizens—we see how Toms River is actually a microcosm of a world that has come to depend on chemicals without quite comprehending what they might do to our health.”—Carl Zimmer, author of A Planet of Viruses and Parasite Rex
“At once intimate and objective, Toms River is the heartbreaking account of one town's struggle with a legacy of toxic pollution. Dan Fagin has written a powerful and important book.”—Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe
Posted April 11, 2013
My child died from a brain tumor. We were a CHOP family from Toms River, NJ. I never knew who the nurse was, or how they got the State of NJ to listen.
Thank you all for standing up for over 250 children and families devastated by childhood cancer in Toms River.
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Posted July 7, 2013
If you have never heard of Toms River, New Jersey, then Dan Fagin’s new book, subtitled A Story of Science and Salvation, might seem like just another a riveting narrative—in this case, about how a town’s water supply became contaminated and what happened as a result. Indeed, it can stand alone as a compelling page-turner.
But if you know Toms River, if you have lived there or have friends from there, then you know about the cancer cluster. You know about Ciba-Geigy, the chemical company that dumped toxic waste into the river and polluted the wells. You know about Union Carbide and the illegally-dumped drums that also polluted the water. And you definitely know about the children who got sick and died. You probably know some adults there who got cancer, too. When you read this book, it will bring back everything you know—everything you heard and read in the newspaper over the years—and it will remind you of the relentless awfulness of that story.
As dreadful as the story is, Dan Fagin tells it well: his writing is clear, cogent, and quick. Although he occasionally gets a little into the weeds with scientific details, his comprehensive explanation of what happened in Toms River from the early 1960s forward answers many, many questions that as far as I know (and I grew up near there) were never previously answered. So the book is both disturbing and satisfying.
It is also alarming because it reminds us of how vulnerable we are. Reading about the prevalence of illegal dumping in the Pine Barrens, I suddenly remembered how the water fountains in my high school used to taste like paint thinner. And that made me think about all of the teachers who have since acquired cancer. A mystery yet unsolved.
I am thankful to Dan Fagin for writing this book. I hope it will spur more research and action to protect our health. Reviewed by Sarah Tantillo at ONLY GOOD BOOKS Blog.
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Posted April 19, 2013
Posted January 6, 2014
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Posted June 17, 2013
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