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American Pests: The Losing War on Insects from Colonial Times to DDT
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American Pests: The Losing War on Insects from Colonial Times to DDT

3.12 of 5 stars 3.12  ·  rating details  ·  8 ratings  ·  3 reviews
The world of insects is one we only dimly understand. Yet from using arsenic, cobalt, and quicksilver to kill household infiltrators to employing the sophisticated tools of the Orkin Man, Americans have fought to eradicate the "bugs" they have learned to hate.

Inspired by the still-revolutionary theories of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," James E. McWilliams argues for a m
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Columbia University Press
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James McWilliams explores the never-ending war on bugs waged by Americans. Beginning with "word of mouth" vernacular solutions to pest control, Americans learned to use science (first biology--fail?--and then chemistry) to control and eradicate pesky insects at home and in their fields. The chemical
success of eradication had the unexpected consequence of yielding pesticide-resistant insects. Thus, as Americans sought to control their environments and produce unmolested monocultures undermined t
Interesting book about the history of the intersection of insects, agriculture and agriculture policy, pesticides, and the environment. I skimmed a lot of it, but really liked the final chapter on Rachel Carson and Silent Spring. It would have been better as a New Yorker article.
The loud and lighthearted cover art belies what turns out to be drudge to read. McWilliams seems admirably dedicated to his subject, and the sheer amount of information he gathers on such an arcane topic is impressive, but there is simply not much of a story to be told; rather we get account after account of failed technique and end up with a hasty paean to Rachel Carson. A waste of time.
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