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Silent Spring

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  22,379 Ratings  ·  1,191 Reviews
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was first published in three serialized excerpts in the New Yorker in June of 1962. The book appeared in September of that year and the outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Carson’s passionate concern for the future of our planet reverbe ...more
Paperback, 378 pages
Published October 22nd 2002 by Mariner Books (first published 1962)
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Riku Sayuj
May 26, 2014 Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: screened, ecology, r-r-rs

A must read book for the concerned. Carson brings forth, without ever putting on alarmist garbs, all the horrors of the warfare that we have undertaken against ourselves.

The book is of course outdated and most of the bigger concerns have been if not addressed, at least taken seriously. But the true value of the book is in understanding how long a time frame has to elapse before such matters of truly catastrophic nature follows the process of scientific suspicion, investigation, verification, th
Debbie "DJ"
Mar 22, 2015 Debbie "DJ" rated it it was amazing
How could I forget the first book I read about pesticides, and how they are destroying our planet? Rachel Carson is literally my hero. After reading Carson's book, I decided this is what I wanted to do with my life. I spent many years in the field of environmental geology, and I have her to thank. I believe this book is as relevant today as it was when she wrote it in 1962. She has an ease of writing, that not only expresses her deep concerns for the environment, but also feels highly personal. ...more
Oct 30, 2008 Ken-ichi rated it liked it
I picked this up because it's a a classic of American nature and environmental writing, and ostensibly marks the beginning of American environmental activism in the modern sense (i.e. more "we deserve not to be poisoned" than "leisure grounds for posterity"). I found the rhetorical style interesting. She breaks the book up into chapters on where toxins come from, how they accumulate and spread, and what effects they have on wildlife, food, and human health. In each, she offloads tale after tale ...more
Author's Note
Introduction, by Lord Shackleton
Preface, by Julian Huxley, F.R.S.

--Silent Spring

Afterword, by Linda Lear
List of Principal Sources
Apr 10, 2016 PattyMacDotComma rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who cares about the future of the world

David Attenborough said that after Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species, Silent Spring was probably the book that changed the scientific world the most.

Why? Because marine biologist Rachel Carson explains in no uncertain terms exactly how mankind was changing the natural world for the worse in unimagined ways through pesticide use. Agriculture wasn’t concerned with wildlife or waterways, just livestock and crops.

I remember as a child hearing that DDT was so safe you could sprinkle it on you
Sarah Vendetti
Jan 23, 2008 Sarah Vendetti rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I have a personal rule when reading books. If I am not completely absorbed into it within fifty pages I put it down. This rule doesn’t work well for assigned reading, and fifty pages into Silent Spring I was so bored I was spending more time thinking of ways to avoid reading the book than actually reading it. Finally it occurred to me the reasons why I felt this boredom. After all, the book is not boring, Carson writes with a feverish passion towards defending nature that simply following her ch ...more
Mar 13, 2012 Claire rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone who lives on the earth, because "the obligation to endure gives us the right to know"
Shelves: favorites
All I can say is that this book completely rocked my world. Carson's writing is so lyrical, so engrossing, and so compelling it's just impossible not to be mesmerized by the lilt of her sentences. And she presents her arguments with such magnetic conviction you cannot help but be convinced of their legitimacy. I've never been a "science person", but her descriptions of cell life, soil creatures, and even beetles truly had me on the edge of my seat. By the same token her words about pesticides ar ...more
Jordan Berg
Jun 13, 2007 Jordan Berg rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone - a must read
I wish this book was not still so poignant. But this book that really started the modern environmental movement and rose the consciences of millions of Americans is still as important today as it was 45 years ago. Whether it’s the use of chemicals still sprayed into are yards and on our food today, or lessons on the importance of questioning how our actions affect our world, Rachel Carson broke the mold. Every person needs to read this book.

“What has already silenced the voices of spring in cou
Nov 18, 2008 Jim rated it really liked it
I've re-read this after maybe 30 years & it is still scary. It is a classic environmental book, detailing how we're changing our ecology & poisoning it. How long the effects linger is just scary & the links to cancer is horrifying.

She occasionally goes over the top, but most often makes good points on how our current practices of bludgeoning nature into our ideal form - which is often mistaken - is not working well & will eventually spell our doom. It was written over 45 years a
Mary Anne
Apr 08, 2008 Mary Anne rated it really liked it
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson can be considered a pivotal work, and must reading for those who are concerned about the environment. Published in 1962, it has taken the rest of us a couple of generations to catch up to her understanding of ecological systems. A marine biologist by training, and also a writer of three other works, Silent Spring was not received with acclaim. Rather, she was accused of having no scientific basis for her findings. To my non-scientific reading, it seems like evidenc ...more
Jan 25, 2016 Ioana rated it it was amazing
Rachel Carson is a feminist hero. In a world of science beholden to capitalist interests and run by men, she defied all conventions in publishing this non-academic yet copiously researched expose on Big-Ag and the effects of pesticide use. She was decried from all angles, not least of all by the scientific establishment, which derided her "pop science" approach and her "hysterical feminine" tone. But it was too late - Carson had appealed to the public, and the public-and their representatives- l ...more
Pete daPixie
Mar 16, 2009 Pete daPixie rated it really liked it
Shelves: green
I had heard of Silent Spring for a long time, and when I stumbled upon it recently I knew right away I had to read this book. Rachel Carson wrote this when JFK was president, and he being the man he was took action straight away. The afterword, by Linda Lear was written in 98.
I can't believe that a book dealing with hydrocarbons could be so poetically written and so clearly explained. I can't believe that I've read such a book. The case studies are, of course, from America in the main, and from
Oct 21, 2007 Janet rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: adults concerned about the environment
What is there to add to the universal praise for Rachel Carson? This book isn't a walk in the park, and it's crammed with (accesible) Scientific data, but it changed the world.

I was more fascinated by Carson's rhetoric than in her findings, which are now more than 45 years old. I read this book to learn how she built a case that challenged every major scientific, political and corporate institution in the country. And she did it by connecting with the shared values of average Americans. Bravo,
Aug 13, 2008 Erin rated it it was amazing
After being in the environmental field for 15 years, I decided it was about time to finish reading the book that started it all, at least what we know as the modern environmental movement (I won't get into what I think is happening in the environmental movement right now). If you are of my generation (thirtysomethings), you will probably start to read this and think "Yea, Yea, I know all of this already" because that's what I thought at first. But then it dawned on me that the reason "I know al ...more
Jun 01, 2015 Rob rated it it was amazing
...After more than half a century it is always easy to poke holes into the scientific knowledge of the day. Not everything that Carson claims in her book is correct and not every solution she proposes works. That being said, the book put a subject on the agenda that very much needed to be discussed. After reading it, I feel the eternal link between DDT and Silent Spring is an oversimplification of what Carson tried to achieve. Her message was much more complex and subtle, not just raging against ...more
Silent Spring or, How the Reader Decided to Become a Hunter-Gatherer

What begins with a surprisingly beautifully written introduction that would rival the best nature writing quickly gives way to an onslaught of data, a barrage of statistics all perfectly designed to regret your participation in the modern world.

Of course, this book is outdated. It came out in the sixties and, though I don't actually know anything about anything, I'm pretty sure most of the problems Rachel Carson describes in Sil
Dec 06, 2013 Goose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know some of you are asking what the hell can we get from an environmental book published in the 1960s. I mean, we curtailed our use of DDT and saved birds, that was the whole point of the book?

Well, yes and no. While it's best known for the effects of DDT (a popular pesticide at the time for those not in the know) on birds, it explores the dangers of pesticide overuse on the environment as a whole and the human population.

Carson was one of the best scientific writers of our time. One of the
Erik Graff
Feb 15, 2009 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historians of environmentalism
Recommended to Erik by: Don Martello
Shelves: sciences
In keeping with Dad's injunction to spend the summer's constructively and not wanting to work at Dairy Queen or the like, I took Public Speaking between the sophomore and junior years of high school. Don Martello, the instructor, had a good reputation among students which turned out to be well-deserved. I was inexperienced as a public speaker and felt it would be prudent to overcome the fear I had of it.

The way the class was constructed required both research and presentation. One of my topics h
Aug 04, 2011 Kahn added it
This may have been a "brilliantly written book" when it came out in the early 60s, but time has not been kind to Ms Carson.

At times, her dry, overly-scientific approach to her subject makes the head hurt.

That said, however, Silent Spring does deserve it's 'classic' tag, and it is as relevant today as it ever was.

From detailing man's arrogant bid to rid the world of 'pests' using the new toys found in the chemistry lab, Carson shows just how much damage can be done if we don't pay attention to th
Mar 15, 2016 Judy rated it it was amazing
For much of my adult life, I have pondered the relationship between commerce and art. This book caused me to ponder the intersection of commerce and science.

I revere scientists who study life here on earth and increase our understanding of the physical properties of life and the universe. I understand that someone has to turn all that into systems and products that make the knowledge available to the rest of us. I abhor the impulses of greed that end up turning the knowledge into destruction. S
Oct 25, 2011 sonicbooming rated it it was amazing
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson is one of the most informative and enlightening books I’ve read in the past 10 years. A non-fiction account of the horrors of DDT and its effect on our environment. A book that anticipated the creation of the EPA - Environmental Protection Agency, Silent Spring is thoroughly researched and filled with some of the most wonderful prose I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. What makes this so striking is that this is a non-fiction account and so one does not expect s ...more
Mar 24, 2010 Dave rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
Don't get me wrong, I like this book in its position as the historical spark for the contemporary environmental movement. At the same time, I have two main problems with it, both of which are instances of my holding Carson up to today's standards. Not fair you say? Of course it's fair.
First, a caution about any enthusiastic embrace of Carson's proposed solutions. Biological meddling (as we've well learned in the 50ish years since Silent Spring's publication) can have results even more disastrou
Sep 24, 2013 Katie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
In a bunch of my bio classes, they inevitably referenced this book, and how it "changed the course of history" and the way people thought about pesticides, raising a public outcry that forced the ban of DDT and eventually changed legislation regarding air, land, and water quality. I decided to finally sit down and read this book to see what all the hullabaloo was about, and HOLY COW! If I had been living in that decade, and read about all this stuff AS it was happening, I'd have been freaking ou ...more
Karin Gastreich
This is one of those classics that has been on my TBR list for far too long. Now that I’ve finally read Carson’s landmark treatise, I cannot recommend it highly enough. A brilliant naturalist and gifted writer, Carson was a master at making complex scientific information readily accessible to the reader. I would call her the E.O. Wilson of her generation, except that it’s probably more appropriate to say E.O. Wilson is the Rachel Carson of our generation. The only downside of reading Silent Spri ...more
Dara Salley
Nov 09, 2015 Dara Salley rated it really liked it
It’s very difficult to tell a story about science in a way that is factually sound and entertaining. Carson did a remarkable job. There are parts that are a little dull. It would take someone with a very specialized set of interests to get a thrill from lists of pesticide application rates from the 1950’s. However, the boring facts are the bedrock from which Carson builds her passionate and inspiring arguments. My favorite part of each chapter was the end, where she summarizes the facts and move ...more
Silent Spring is billed as the classic book that unleashed what we know as the modern environmental movement. I had vague expectations, thus, of emotional entreaties about the biological impacts of a host of human endeavors. Silent Spring is neither of those things. Carson presents, in stubbornly objective terms, the whole slew of consequences invoked by chemical pesticides. The story is an agglomeration of many scientific studies (though many more have been produced since, giving even more defi ...more
Sep 10, 2011 Samantha rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned
Unlike A Sand County Almanac, Silent Spring was an enjoyable read. I agreed wholeheartedly with Rachel Carson’s wake up call to the human race, and I think that if more (important) people sat down to read things like this, our planet would be in a lot less danger. Carson uses powerful statements such as “Only within this moment of time has one species-man-acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world,” and “every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals from ...more
Sep 09, 2013 Dennis rated it liked it
This brought all the joy that you'd get when curling up with a biology textbook. The arch nemesis to living organisms in Silent Spring is none other than dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), that dastardly insecticide from the 1940s that wreaked havoc on natural habitats wherever it rained down as poison upon large swaths of U.S. agricultural lands.

I liked the wide and varied accounts of toxic poisons resulting in unintended consequences, which gives any thoughtful reader serious pause about
Jun 04, 2010 Jo rated it it was amazing
This is one of my top favorite books of all time. I re-read it last year for the first time since high school, and was bowled over by the superb quality of both Carson's writing and science-- and deeply touched by her personal story. Unknown to the public, she herself was battling cancer while being viciously attacked by the chemical industry whose ill-effects her book illuminates. Her work was vindicated-- but she still hasn't won, has she? While her writings did lead to some important policy i ...more
Jan 30, 2009 Kevin added it
I've been meaning to read this book for awhile, and just recently ran into it on my dad's bookshelves and had to go for it. It wasn't at all what I expected. I was thinking it'd be something poetic and romantic in its appreciation of nature. I didn't realize "silent spring" referred not to a tranquil spring, but a spring made silent by the pervasive poisons we pour into our environment...quite a stilling reality. She spent many parts of the book relating example after example of different pestic ...more
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The Greener Reader: How outdated in Silent Spring, really? 7 29 Mar 31, 2015 01:04PM  
500 Great Books B...: Silent Spring - Rachel Carson 3 21 Mar 22, 2015 11:35AM  
Reading Buddy Style: April 2015: Silent Spring 1 2 Mar 19, 2015 07:24AM  
The Greener Reader: Inaccuracies/ Faults with Silent Spring 3 22 Dec 21, 2014 12:50AM  
FULL Creative Lib...: Silent Spring 1 2 Mar 05, 2014 01:03PM  
The Greener Reader: Reasons why Rachel Carson is my hero... 4 6 Jul 02, 2013 12:13PM  
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  • Song for the Blue Ocean: Encounters Along the World's Coasts and Beneath the Seas
  • Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas
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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...

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“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” 1232 likes
“In nature nothing exists alone.” 119 likes
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