Silent Spring

Silent Spring

by Rachel Carson
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Overview

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

Rarely does a single book alter the course of history, but Rachel Carson's Silent Spring did exactly that. The outcry that followed its publication in 1962 forced the government to ban DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson's book was instrumental in launching the environmental movement. It is without question one of the landmark books of the twentieth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780449209387
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/12/1985

About the Author

Rachel Carson (1907-1964) spent most of her professional life as a marine biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By the late 1950s, she had written three lyrical, popular books about the sea, including the best-selling The Sea Around Us, and had become the most respected science writer in America. She completed Silent Spring against formidable personal odds, and with it shaped a powerful social movement that has altered the course of history.

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Silent Spring 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To those who have not yet read this book, do not be fooled by the baseless criticism posted in negative reviews here. These negative notices are themselves ignorant of Carson's work and lack sound ecological understanding. 'Silent Spring' was published as a longer work, and not in a peer review journal, because of Carson's intended audience DDT was affecting the environment in immediate and horribly detrimental ways, even though scienctific studies had previously shown the destruction it wrecked. Carson wrote in a format which had the greatest ability to disseminate her work among the general public and thus have a greater effect of public policy, as was vitally needed. It was not necessary to publish in a peer journal, additionally, because the information which supported her claims already existed in the scientific world. She drew only on independent studies, which elimated common bias in studies conducted by special interest groups. The criticism which 'Silent Spring' evoked did not come from the greater scientific community, but instead from industry which relied on DDT for profit, as well as those seeking to discredit a women speaking in a field and in a role traditionally dominated by men. After the work's publication in 1961, JFK ordered an invesigation into the legitimacy of Carson's assertions this invesitgation confirmed Carson's work, and initated a decade's long environmental reform in the government. Furthermore, the environmental degradation done by DDT cannot be measured in dubious assertions of malaria deaths. Beside the baseless nature of such assertions, which fails in scientific proof, such attacks attempt to discredit an environmentalism out of ignorance in an area in which that environmentalism is strongly anchored: it seeks to protect the world as a whole, humans and nature included. If there is no world for us to live, no air to breath or water to drink, then there is no point, no effect, no good that can come out of any technoligical innovation. Essentially, do not be disuaded from reading this book by reviews here if you do not believe my argument, for whatever reason, read the book yourself, look up the facts for yourself. The facts don't lie the comments here have. For further information on what I have written here, see the work of Douglas Allchin, Professor at the University of Texas, an essay entitled 'Rachel Carson & Silent Spring'
Guest More than 1 year ago
Regardless of how you feel about the environmental movement, Carson's Silent Spring is well worth a read. Whether you agree or disagree with her stance on DDT and other synthetic insecticide use, Carson illustrates well how fragile natural ecosystems can be. No matter what we choose for an occupation, one day we'll end up influencing the world around us. It's probably best to know how to decrease the negative effect we'll have on it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Eventhough "Silent Spring" was written in the early 1960s, it is so well written and the author so brilliant that it reads as though it were written yesterday. Utilizing published research data by the medical community, agricultural experts and similar, Carson writes about bioaccumulation of toxic synthetic chemicals in the environment and how they negatively impact wildlife, agriculture, and humans--as well as the toxins getting into the ground water and food chain--worldwide! Carson also writes about the resistance that "pests" develop within 6 months-6 years to horrific pesticides such as DDT, Lindane, Chlordane, BHC (Benzene Hexachloride) and similar including that the toxins kill the natural predators of the pests leaving superpests. This is the main area of toxicology discussed in her book, but she also mentions other areas too. Carson was supposedly one of the few women with an advanced biology degree during the time of when she wrote "Silent Spring," and she worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. My only criticiem of this book is that as horrible the facts she states, she underestimates them as I suspect to keep her "job." I notice that today some USA government reports written by scientists underestimate, downplay problems (whether it is power lines or nuclear power). In "Silent Spring," Rachel Carson gives a history of pesticides such as in the years the 1800s, and mentions arsenic as one of the main ingredients though another major ingredient back then--lead--lead mixed with arsenic is not mentioned. That is, unless I missed it in my reading of her book. When lead was used then, it was also known that it was a toxin, so for it to be used then could be construed as deliberate pollution intention? Or, did she fear they would label it as a non-major ingredient and not list it? Whatever the case, at least Carson wrote about "arsenate of lead" used. From there, it gets much worse in the 21st Century, and the horrors she writes, she even mentions tank mixing of chemicals--though, you wonder if she also lacked some clarity to keep her "job"...Other than this, her writing style is beautiful as she contrasts the nice nature scenes with the human step backwards in science to create the unseen environmental disasters in a journey-type way. I read it many years ago, and it is current as new sunthetic toxins are created daily and mixed in many areas of the world. Carson was before my time, but her writtings are still about this era of history. Carson tries to get the scientific community into developing environmentally-friendly products, and to make everyone aware of the fragility of the environment. One often hears of the indigenous handlng "pests" by being better stewards of the environment so that there is not an imbalance or infestation--using birds and bats to help combat some insects, that are pests and utilizing medicinal plants as cures. Carson writes of some other "environmentally-friendly" developments, though some of those would be criticized also. This was also a testimony to her brilliance--to also show other developments.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nature, a web of energy transfers and the movement of ambitious life, broken down yields unique fibers each their own form and style; an endless matt of differentiation. Fibers defined by an independent characteristic which life and nature depend on. Rachel Carson¿s, Silent Spring, certainly changed the perceptions of all who have read it. Carson carefully wrote Silent Spring in her own soft style which incorporates scientific evidence, theory and reasoning along with the naturalistic biological observations Carson noted herself. Although, blatant evidence shows that chemicals like the: chlorinated hydrocarbons, phosphates and organophosphates mutate genes as radiation does, inhibit functions of the body, promote cancer in all cells, halt the division of cells and pass mutated DNA on to progeny. World wide these chemicals are sprayed at rates which any form of life, including humans, in any part of the world would undoubtedly absorb enough chemical residue whether directly or indirectly for the aforementioned unnatural catastrophes to take place. Carson made it clear that these chemicals have no counterparts in nature, which means nothing exists in the realm of the Earth that could break them down. They are sturdy and last the test of time, some thousands if not millions of years. Because of this, residues enter a food web in many ways. If water is contaminated in one place, water is contaminated everywhere; therefore all living beings have residues in their system and have passed them down the line. Animals not directly hit by the poisons may feed on others that have, or feed on an animal who encountered contaminated food many years ago. The poisons build up in fatty tissues where they become concentrated and sometimes multiplied. Mothers nursing newborn infants and feeding them baby foods which contain insecticidal residues never knew it, still even today. Carson has explained that insecticides, herbicides and pesticides all deserve the classification ¿biocide.¿ She describes them as biocides because these chemicals kill not only what their prefix implies but all life. One could determine this from the mere fact that all these chemicals stemmed from the poisonous gases by the U.S. in World War II. Now that industries have control over their own regulations, life as nature intended will become extinct if not all together. Rachel Carson wrote this book almost forty years ago and realistically, nothing has changed in chemical production, or the ignorant practices of agriculture. Some chemicals have been banned, although some countries still use them and residues travel across the world back and forth. Everyday, chemicals belonging to the three aforementioned groups are newly synthesized and marketed differently. Basically the same chemicals are just physically rearranged on the molecular level. Until people consider other forms of life then their own, as well as read Silent Spring, the world is headed for disaster.
LIZUNDERWOOD More than 1 year ago
Each chapter in the book offers a different environmental concern. A main theme in the book suggests that deadly chemicals are being infiltrated into the atmosphere without consideration or thought of what or who may be effected by them which would be the atmosphere, bodies of water, air, soil, animals, humans, etc.  An important point that Carson is trying to get across to the reader is that humans have a moral and ethical dedication to the environment and animals. She is causing the reader to think more deeply of their actions and whether or not it is right to over-consume and use products, which could be deadly to the atmosphere. 
Amer_Alsoudi More than 1 year ago
Silent Spring is a well, detailed analysis and explanation about the effects of many pesticides and chemicals so widely used in the modern wold. This theme was clearly portrayed in the novel, as Carson vividly illustrates a world effected by the dangerous chemicals used today such as DDT. With an immense amount of information to be learned, Carson puts together a environmental masterpiece with the Silent Spring. As a reader I learned the many things effected by these chemicals such as plants, environment, people, and overall our dear Earth. This book is extremely recommended, as it brings forth a whole new side of danger to this environment we,as people, never knew about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rachel Carson's silent spring surprised me when I found that although it constantly discusses DDT it mostly focuses on daughter versions of the poison that are said to be many times more poisonous than DDT. The book constantly points out that DDT is in fact a poison that does its job well which was simply put to kill things (originally focusing on malaria carrying mosquitoes). The major point of the book is that after it killed the insects a few years later the insects would repopulate and another spraying would be necessary to kill them again and then this pattern would continue again, but what was found was that the poison built up as more was continuously added reaching lethal levels that would kill animals that had stored enough of the poison in their bodies from consuming toxic insects. The book's theme is that its beneficial to a certain extent then it becomes unacceptable. What I liked so much about this book was the fact that Rachel didn't so much attack the poison itself but the way in which the poison was used such as massive air drops of the poison and so on. She explained the idea of selective spraying that attacked key areas instead of subjecting all of the wild life to the poison. She also mentioned other methods of accomplishing the task that were given as much thought and detail as her attacks on the use of insecticide including economic benefits and other benefits giving a positive light on the situation rather than constantly droning on about why we shouldn't use the poisons. The book however does tend to lead to assumptions that weren't exactly proven with scientific evidence but more theorized by Rachel such as the dwindling numbers of a certain species of animal in or near a sprayed location. These assumptions only occur a few times in the book but other than that most of the events she mentions are very hard to falsify just by her use of common since and logical thinking. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested on this topic but I would also caution you to keep a very open mind when reading this book as it is very bias against the use of chemicals at all. If you do read the book constantly question which is the better: preserving animal life or delaying the spread of disease. Both have serious consequences but I would like to add a fact from the book which mentions the scientific study that some of these insects do in fact adapt to the chemical bombardments and then require larger dosages of poison in order to kill them off again. Overall it was a very enlightening book for me and I would without a doubt recommend it to anyone interested in the topic. CDotts
shankster More than 1 year ago
This was a nostalgic journey through a world facing nuclear and chemical solutions to its problems more for convenience than real productivity. Without her, we'd all be living next door to a nuclear reactor.
HaroldHunterOakes More than 1 year ago
This book is well written and if you have a little background in chemistry and biology you will understand the dangers past, present and future of what we are doing to our planet and ourselves. Having grown up in a heavily industrialized town during the 50s and 60s my brother and I morbidly joke, wondering what kind of cancer we are going to die from. Like my brother and I, my wife also grew up downwind of these same plants that burned the cheapest high sulfur coal possible. They belched out all kinds of dangerous things into the air and buried things that are deadly and still there just waiting to leach out into neighboring water tables. My wife is now fighting for her life with stage IV lung cancer. She smoked for 25 yrs., but stopped 9 yrs. ago. Did the air pollution contribute to or trigger the cancer? We will never know.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Changed the way I think about our pesticide/herbicide use & our industrial food industry. An excellent & informative read.
jharlam More than 1 year ago
If you are taking any kind of Biology Class that deals with the environment; this is a most read book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely something to think about. Rachel Carson had a good idea of what environmentalists want to get across to the public through a book. There was a very big environmental movement because of certain farming practices with using pesticides. Carson had had a big history with Marine Biology and the U.S Fish and Wildlife service. The author was mainly concerned about the pesticides in the environment because of the fruits and vegetables that people ate with a pesticide coating. She also really emphasized how DDT can affect the fat in humans and animals. The data she described in the novel was proof of a large rise in cancer rates which is important in the book because of live accounts. The main idea is that pesticides affect the environment in a major way and for human health. I really liked the idea that she was worried about the rise in cancer rates and how she would want to prevent deaths because of that. Very similar to Erin Brockovich's story in that sense. I disliked the amount of times she described the amount of time in the book it described to the scientific process of the pesticides to an extent that made it get boring. I really DO think that one should read this text because it is important for society because they should understand how the environmentalists might have a connection of what's happening now to 1962, and people should definitely be aware of the cancer rates. The author has a very similar personality as to Erin Brockovich because of the empowering story. Though Erin has a para legal case and sued the company Pacific, Gas, and Electric (Hinkley, CA) for 133.6 million dollars, she was an environmental activist who got the water records and found that hexavalent chromium was distributed to that city. People were getting cancer, tumours, and sicknesses and PG&E didn't support the money for that. Carson had the same idea of what she wanted for people due to this problem. Because of what all fell in place and the major connection to the environmental activist Erin Brockovich I would give this piece 4 stars.
ngreen2 More than 1 year ago
Every blue moon, one is bound to find something that randomly catches an emotional response, one such response that is quite surprising. Rachel Carson seemed intent on doing this with many people when she wrote Silent Spring. Having never considered myself a researcher (purely for my lack of interest in researching number-type data of my own motivation), I was quite surprised to find that Carson was able to capture my attention and present me with facts, and I never wanted to put the book down until it was finished. Carson's way of beginning with a story was the first thing to draw me in; I love stories. But the story was different than what one usually expects from something beginning with the line, "There once was a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings." She then goes on to describe multiple facets of insecticides and human life, including listing and explaining different types of chemicals used, how they affect different areas of life (like the creatures of the water, creatures of the land, creatures of the sky, and humans in a separate chapter), and even showing how nature attempts to fight back/fend for herself. Carson also predicts outcomes of the road we are headed on (at the time of the book writing) and some ways to prevent it; aka, head down the road less traveled by, to see what it ends in. In the end, the choice, as Carson says, is ours to make. Cliffhangerrrr.....
Linnea More than 1 year ago
The book is known because of the impact Silent Spring had on pesticide use. I had no idea until now how elegantly Carson crafted her argument. The author was dying of cancer when the Silent Spring reached bookstores. The beautiful, often poetic prose transcends the conservation argument made against DDT. No wonder the book created an instant sensation and lasting change. Even when the text gets more prosaic, the case is devastating: "In Florida, two children found an empty bag and used it to repair a swing. Shortly thereafter both of them died and three of their playmates became ill. The bag had once contained an insecticide called parathion, one of the organic phosphates; tests established death by parathion poisoning." Carson as David took down the Goliath of the chemical industry through the shear power of her persuasive argument. In the process, she fueled the environmental movement and saved countless animals, and even whole species. Brava.
L-inque More than 1 year ago
This book is an eye opener. It should be required reading for everyone who plans to live on planet earth.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Incredibly persuasive book. After reading it, I am no longer surprised that one book could have such a huge influence on national policy and public opinion.
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