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Under the Sea Wind

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  339 ratings  ·  33 reviews

Silent Spring author Rachel Carson’s early masterwork brings to life the elegiac, subtle beauty of birds and the sea, blending her natural storytelling ability with clear-eyed science

In her first book, preeminent nature writer Rachel Carson tells the story of the sea creatures and birds that dwell in and around the waters along North America’s eastern coast—and the delica

ebook, 304 pages
Published March 29th 2011 by Open Road Integrated Media (first published January 1st 1941)
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Laura Little
Before David Attenborough and nature television, there was Rachel Carson. What's so phenomenal about this 1941 book was that it was her first, published when she was in her mid-30s.

It can be challenging to read what we are so accustomed to seeing visually. However, Carson's narration is spectacular, taking the reader through ecosystems with the animals themselves as characters. I would say that Caron's writing actually eclipses nature film: it allows to push deeper beyond the exciting, shimmeri
This is Rachel Carson’s first book (1941), and her personal favorite. In it she tells charming nature stories, poetically spoken yet full of scientific fact about ocean animals and the interrelatedness of life in ocean, estuary, and river. The characters are often individual mackerel, arctic owls, eels, etc. that are seen in the context of their entire ecosystem (a word originally coined by Carson). She looks at the changes in this ecosystem throughout seasons and lifecycles, from the viewpoint ...more
Skip Stoddard
An incredibly scientific and detailed description of the life cycles and behaviors of a number of creatures that inhabit the water and air along our coastal zones. The main characters, a black skimmer (a shore bird), a mackerel, and an eel, are imbued with human thoughts and emotions that pull the reader in to their world. A fascinating, well written introduction to ecology.
This is the first book that I picked up following a Google Doodle prompt. I am hoping to make my way through Carson's three Sea books and Silent Spring.

Clearly this is a classic (the cover says "Penguin Classics"). I enjoyed the brief introduction that told the story of how Carson came to write the book and how the advent of World War II delayed the "discovery" of this classic for a decade.

I really liked how she highlighted the circles of life. We more often see the circle of life where larger a
Written in 1941, my copy is a 60 cent paperback from the Signet Science Library that was given to me in 1964 by my Aunt Jackie. This copy was from the 6th printing in the year that Rachel Carson died. I don't know why I still have it, but I decided it was probably time to read it. The book's subtitle is "a naturalist's picture of ocean life", and the author tells a series of stories each one revolving around a named animal, Silverbar the sanderling, Scomber the mackerel and Anguilla the eel. Eac ...more
Unbelievably beautiful. Its another of those books which demand to be read out loud. An extraordinary description of the life of rivers and seas. A prose love poem, you might say, to mother nature. If you love being inspired, then read this one.
Mary Halpenny-killip
I'm not entirely sure that this counts. I only read three quarters. The further I got away from my relaxing August week on Cape Cod, the less patience I had for reading about the life cycles, migration and birthing patterns, survival of the fittest amongst the creatures--both of the sky and under the sea. But, I did gain a great appreciation of ocean/marsh life--above and below. I'll never wade into the water again without thinking about all the millions of creatures present, or far down below, ...more

It is perhaps aimed at much younger readers - I think so because she gives human names to the animals, thereby making them characters and tells their story. The names are usually male - I hate this practice. The default is not male and while I understand that she was writing "way back then", but there are a lot of people who do so even now i.e. refer to animals by default as "he". "It" is more suitable. Of course, if I was learning a lot from the book, I would have overlooked this issue.

I felt l
this is a natural classic; should be read by everyone who loves nature
Last Ranger

A Midsummer Night's Dream:

Reading Rachel Carson's first book, "Under the Sea Wind" (1941), is like reading poetry. Not so much a science book, even though the science therein is accurate, but more of an intimate look into the lives of the fish, birds and mammals that live in and around the sea. The text follows a continual narrative, spotlighting various animals as they go about their lives in a challenging environment. Carson's narrative shows that each animal is part a a larger picture, one th
The main problem I had with Under the Sea Wind was the fact that I like my non-fiction to be, let's say, less fictional. I know, crazy thought. While the information and details of each species detailed is accurate, Carson chose to personify and "follow" specific members of species and name them. It felt much more on par with a novel rather than a serious work of environmental non-fiction. This aspect may very well appeal to those looking for a lighter environmental read but I like less lyrical, ...more
Lovely. Not the most exciting or stimulating read, but Rachel Carson is a superb writer. In this book, she narrates scenes in the lives of various animals living in or around the ocean. Her characters are sandpipers, mackerel, eels, crabs, hawks. She brings to life their needs and desires, making it seem like more than just basic instinct and the will to survive. She describes the circle of life, and characters are born and die without emotion because that's just how the world works. And yet I k ...more
Rachel Carson writing before Silent Spring. No intimation yet of environmental disaster. The words “sea wind” are Carson’s shorthand for the encapsulation of all life within a single system. The sea is vast, as is aquatic life. Carson’s prose is lyrical yet precise (as Peter Matthiessen comments, setting the standard for all nature writers to follow). Two words come particularly to mind: meal and migration. From diatom, copepod and algae to whale, shore bird and eel, life is moving and eating. H ...more
Jen K.
Like all dutiful environmentalists, I had tried to read Silent Spring years back. I'm not sure if others also had this experience, but I found it extremely depressing and also not very engaging- a difficult read at best. Recently I learned that Under the Sea Wind (Carson's first book) had always been her favorite. It's described as a story about ocean ecology told from the perspective of the sea creatures themselves-- a totally factual story that reads like fiction. I was sold. Let me tell you, ...more
Mar 27, 2012 Ann rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who love the beach and ocean.
Recommended to Ann by: Greatdecisions
I am participating in the Foreign Policy Association's GREAT DECISIONS and one of the topics is "State of the oceans:waves of change". After attending this session I wanted to read about the oceans. Carson wrote this book in 1941 but it is so easy to read and deals with the cycles of the ocean. She talks about the birds and fish that depend on the ocean and their life cycles. She makes the species that she is discussing into a character and I got caught up in the life cycle of each as she discus ...more
Coastal wildlife can easily blow one’s mind, and Rachel Carson’s first book captures its wonder. “Under the Sea Wind” brings a fresh literary voice to science writing, making it no surprise that Carson went on to make waves with more bestselling books.
A classic invitation to better appreciate life along the shore and in the sea, contemporary readers have much to contemplate in what has changed.
A series of interconnected chapters and vignettes following the lives of creatures living in and around the sea - animals and plants from algae to whales, but focusing on some fish and birds. Carson explains animal life cycles in an engaging narrative fashion and tells how they connect to the lives of other creatures and how they are affected by the seasons and changes of the earth.
It was fascinating and compelling, I did not want to put it down, and it made me want to be at the beach in the wo
Gordon Harris
I read this book many years ago, and still remember it as my introduction to environmentalism. It is a magical book which follows the path of a North American eel from the river in which it was hatched to the Sargasso Sea.

It points out how things in Nature are interconnected and how much Mankind has upset this fine balance.

Although this book was one of, if not the first, "environmental" book, it still is important in the present time when many of its predictions have come true.

I would suggest t

"Glumdor the clam skittered away using his jets, as Biltrix the sea otter gave chase! Biltrix used his mighty paws to clobber Glumdor against the rock clutched tightly to Biltrix's chest. As Glumdor's life seeped away, Biltrix was nourished with renewed vigor, to face another day in the heaving seas..."

Not an actual quote, but kinda how she writes in this book. Silly personifications and named characters abound unceasingly, and not in a "Watership Down" or "Charlotte's Web" kinda way, but ra
Finally finished reading this one. I loved it. I am a huge fan of personification and sort of 'general' stories--not epics, but every-day stories of every-day creatures and people. This was a lovely, natural version of that for the environment and the critters found in one section of it, in the sea.

So pleased to have finally read this one. I think it's going to be my favourite of hers. Well, perhaps after Sense of Wonder, which I read whenever I feel unsure.

Rachel owns quite a bit of my heart an
Finally read through the whole book. I loved the adventure of it and the personifying of nature in what felt like an authentic way. It was fun to switch from rooting for the underdog (prey) to the top dog (predator) with the POV. It was poignant, as well, to end with us on the side of the sea and the life there as we find the ultimate and indiscriminate predator: humans.

I'm sure I'll read this one again some time. I'm certainly taking my sweet time in reading through all the Rachel Carson materi
Teri Bell
Couldn't get into this one.
Jul 22, 2008 Kristen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kristen by: Susan
I read this with my summer reading group, and really liked her ability to elucidate what went (/goes? one of our questions was how much ocean ecology has changed since 1941, when Simon and Schuster initially published this) on in and directly peripheral to the ocean while still preserving, to my mind, a sense of mystery about it. The subject is fascinating, and the writing is a model for public scientists.
Ashley Nichols
Beautifully written vignettes into the lives of sea creatures build an amazing journey into waterways and oceans. It is better than any documentary and completely before it's time. It inspires research in the curious, but also comes with a back of the book pictorial enhanced dictionary for the completely useless.
Susan Myers-Shirk
I just started this book. Like everybody else, I've been thinking a lot about the environment lately. I know about Carson, but had never actually read anything by her. She's an amazing writer and reading her books about the ocean makes you want to pack your bags and head straight for the shore...more later
DearReader Classics book for November 2009.
Absolutely brilliant science writing, couched in a novel-like setting telling the life cycles of a seagull (Silverbar), a mackerel (Scomber) and an eel (Anguilla). Fascinating. First published in 1941.
A wonderful way to read about science; Carson makes the lives of birds and sea creatures very accessible in this book.
I learned so much from reading this book. I look and listen much more. Beautifully written and inspiring.
Rift Vegan
one of those books that you can read out loud.
In fact: do!

My favorite part was about the eels.
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Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.

Carson began her career as an aquatic biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us won
More about Rachel Carson...
Silent Spring The Sea Around Us The Sense of Wonder The Edge of the Sea Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson

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