Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When Smoke Ran Like Water: Tales Of Environmental Deception And The Battle Against Pollution” as Want to Read:
When Smoke Ran Like Water: Tales Of Environmental Deception And The Battle Against Pollution
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When Smoke Ran Like Water: Tales Of Environmental Deception And The Battle Against Pollution

by
3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  218 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
In When Smoke Ran Like Water, the world-renowned epidemiologist Devra Davis confronts the public triumphs and private failures of her lifelong battle against environmental pollution. She documents the shocking toll of a public-health disaster-300,000 deaths a year in the U.S. and Europe from the effects of pollution-and asks why we remain silent. For Davis, the issue is pe ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 25th 2003 by Basic Books (first published 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about When Smoke Ran Like Water, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about When Smoke Ran Like Water

Pest Control for Organic Gardening by Amber RichardsLiving Downstream by Sandra SteingraberHaving Faith by Sandra SteingraberNocturne, Opus 1 by Norene MoskalskiStop Losing Sleep by Kyle Richards
Women's health and environment
53rd out of 54 books — 44 voters
Breasts by Florence   WilliamsExplaining Unexplained Illnesses by Martin L. PallSlow Death by Rubber Duck by Rick     SmithThe Orphan Conspiracies by James MorcanGluten Free Slow Cooker by F.L. Clover
Environmental Health
166th out of 179 books — 56 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 498)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Elaine
Apr 10, 2008 Elaine rated it it was amazing
I think I first picked this book up in preparation for a class presentation on politics and epidemiology. It was really an excellent book, filled with well written personal stories woven into scientific facts and figures. Davis is a highly regarded environmental epidemiologist, and one of the few in the field (and sub-field) who has the courage to speak truth to power.

Part of why this book is so powerful and moving is the fact that Davis and her family lived through the Donora smog incident and
...more
Anne
Aug 03, 2015 Anne rated it really liked it
Excellent book! Reminds me of "Woman: an intimate geography" which I read a decade or so ago. Dr Davis' book was published in 2002, the year I went to China. She also mentioned Mexico City - I visited 1996 and remember that I had to lie flat because I couldn't breathe and my back hurt so bad. Pollution was dreadful.

Hers is a book about pollution, public health, the environment, and the political forces that scientists have to battle against. She explains the link between pollution and chemicals
...more
Elaine C
Feb 07, 2015 Elaine C rated it really liked it
A little hard to get through, but very informative. Really a must read to understand how much business can change perceptions hiding and covering up the truth.
Mark Greene
Feb 04, 2012 Mark Greene rated it it was amazing
Devra Davis is great. She's a great role model for girls: a brilliant woman scientist who is not afraid to speak the truth.
Becky
May 21, 2014 Becky rated it it was amazing
If you're interested in the political relationship between science and public health in the US, this book is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed this book cover to cover, and Devra Davis is now one of my personal heroes.

Some types of scientific advances, such as new technology for your smartphone, are easily gobbled up by the public. Others, such as scientific evidence regarding environmental toxins, are a lot harder for the public and the government to swallow.

This book is about human experience of
...more
Becky
May 21, 2014 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
If you're interested in the political relationship between science and public health in the US, this book is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed this book cover to cover, and Devra Davis is now one of my personal heroes.

Some types of scientific advances, such as new technology for your smartphone, are easily gobbled up by the public. Others, such as scientific evidence regarding environmental toxins, are a lot harder for the public and the government to swallow.

This book is about human experience of
...more
Eliza
Nov 23, 2009 Eliza rated it it was amazing
Shelves: geo-med-env
This book was a very insightful glimpse of the history of pollution in the US. Her personal background made the book seem to mean more, since she had a personal stake in the matter. The history she gives of Donora, London, Los Angeles, all of these locations has a very unique history, but when it comes to their pollution, they are all surprisingly similar. I thought this was fascinating to learn about.

Politics plays a huge part in this book, as it does in the realities of the environmental movem
...more
Bobbi Woods
Jun 08, 2010 Bobbi Woods rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
Can't say that I read this ENTIRE book--it was a little too scientific-documentary for me! We read it for book club and it was sold to us by our EPA friend, Sherri as a "memoir" of this woman's experience growing up in a polluted town in PA, which at one point this century got so bad it killed over 40 people in one weekend because of settling smog from the steel and zinc factories.

It turned out that the first chapter was about the town in PA and each individual chapter following was about a dif
...more
Mark
Aug 01, 2007 Mark rated it liked it
Shelves: environment
Read this as an assigment for a profile I was writing (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05332/...). It was nominated for a National Book Award, I think not so much on the strength of its writing as on its vociferous message. Dr. Davis is an activist scientist, I think it's safe to say, who believes there is enough evidence of health damage from environmental pollutants, whether in the air or in plastics or other substances, to warrant intervention by the government to prevent the possibility of la ...more
Bill O'driscoll
Dec 04, 2011 Bill O'driscoll rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sobering stuff from the epidemiologist who later wrote "The Secret History of the War on Cancer." "Smoke" is about how industrial pollution has consistently been underestimated as a cause of disease. Davis grew up in Donora, Pa., site of an infamous killer toxic smog. (Many in her family later died from cancer, not necessarily because of that episode but likely due in part to the heavy industry in the town.) Other examples range from the London smog of 1952 (thousands of deaths were falsely attr ...more
AnnieLu
Mar 03, 2015 AnnieLu rated it it was amazing
Loved it! I am an environmental scientist and risk assessor who normally would not read a book "for pleasure" that is so closely tied to my work. This was fascinating and so worthwhile.
Joan
Sep 01, 2008 Joan rated it it was amazing
Good information presented well. Again I was outraged by how easily we are lied to by those who are in a position of power to make a difference and how money really speaks in our nation. People are still fodder for their plans for wealth. An informative book about the effects of pollution on our daily health. Such a relief not to live in Salt Lake City any more and be able to see truly blue sky and breath the air freely except when the waste ponds are ripe and the wind is blowing in the wrong di ...more
Julia
Apr 10, 2009 Julia rated it liked it
This book focuses on the decades of work behind establishing U.S. policies for regulating air pollution and highlights how difficult it is for scientists to be advocates. I found it particularly interesting how this book parallels with the battle to prove that human activity is causing global warming. I definitely recommend this book to my public health people! Also a great read for anyone interested in the politics and science behind the environmental movement.
Owen Carver
Aug 27, 2007 Owen Carver rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone concerned about cancer
This Pulitzer Prize nominee book taught me why environmental pollution causes breast cancer and how the once extensive light rail mass transit system in Los Angeles was systematically destroyed by automobile and gas companies.
The book, in summary, is a history of the fight for basic environmental, and specifically air-pollution, regulations in the United States and how Corporations were able to suppress them for so long.
Suzi
Feb 01, 2008 Suzi is currently reading it
So far so good with this one. Devra Davis has an excellent writing style. Very engaging, which is good since epidemiology could be a very dry subject! I am still in disbelief about the chapter on the Donora smog disaster. Davis also makes some extremely interesting connections in history--relating to how the state of the environment has influenced trends and behaviors in everyday life.
Pamela
Nov 18, 2007 Pamela rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to delve deeper than popular and shallow media
Devra Davis is a well-known, well-respected public health researcher whose work and truth telling has had a private cost, and who shows linkages between environmental toxins and disease, such as breast cancer and how the chemical industrial industry has successfully fought such truths from emerging.
Dave
Feb 10, 2009 Dave rated it liked it
Good book. It's a little preachy but on the mark as far as ideas. The book does have several clear and concise explanations of complex atmospheric phenomenon (and their effects on people) for the general public. I appreciated the time she spent putting those sections together.
Sara
Jun 05, 2007 Sara rated it it was ok
I wish this book would have been more interesting. It starts out well with the historical aspects of the small Pittsburgh suburb, but then the author delves into complex scientific equations and it's all over. I never did finish it.
Patti
Apr 24, 2016 Patti rated it really liked it
Very interesting & equally depressing.
Shin Furuya
Aug 08, 2011 Shin Furuya rated it it was amazing
Collection of various stories of struggles against the pollution. I liked it the way the author addresses different issues through individual cases, made it easier to personalize different issues and pollution as a whole.
Spk
Feb 02, 2009 Spk rated it liked it
Interesting look at the time line of environmental research to government action and the power of the corporate machine to sabotage and manipulate the research and the policies.
Beth
Mar 05, 2016 Beth rated it liked it
This was more depressing than inspiring. Stories of how industry and government impeded environmental changes. Some good things came out of it, of course.
Laura
Aug 15, 2010 Laura rated it really liked it
A must read for anyone who has children and a really good introduction to environmental pollution and the impacts to our health.
Elaine
May 30, 2011 Elaine rated it really liked it
She was on the 2003 UND Writer's Conference panel. This book is disturbing to read.
Sierra Gergus
Dec 08, 2012 Sierra Gergus rated it liked it
Had an amazing message. Was painful for me to read. Glad it's over.
Jordan
Jordan marked it as to-read
May 10, 2016
Emily Persico
Emily Persico marked it as to-read
Apr 23, 2016
Cheryl Mcintosh
Cheryl Mcintosh is currently reading it
Apr 17, 2016
Matt B
Matt B marked it as to-read
Apr 12, 2016
Raechel
Raechel marked it as to-read
Apr 12, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 16 17 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival? A Scientific Detective Story
  • A River Lost: The Life and Death of the Columbia
  • A Spring without Bees: How Colony Collapse Disorder Has Endangered Our Food Supply
  • A Question Of Intent: A Great American Battle With A Deadly Industry
  • Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power
  • Living Downstream: A Scientist's Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment
  • With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change
  • Living in the Environment: Principles, Connections, and Solutions (with CD-ROM and InfoTrac)
  • Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit
  • Earth Odyssey: Around the World in Search of Our Environmental Future
  • Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat
  • The Riverkeepers: Two Activists Fight to Reclaim Our Environment as a Basic Human Right
  • Toxic Sludge is Good For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry
  • The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations
  • The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War
  • Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age
  • Our National Parks
  • Big Trouble: A Murder in a Small Western Town Sets off a Struggle for the Soul of America
2947978
Devra Davis is an American epidemiologist and writer. Her book When Smoke Ran Like Water, which begins with the tale of the Donora Smog of 1948, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2002. Davis's second book, The Secret History of the War on Cancer, was published by Basic Books in October 2007.

She is currently the director of the Center for Environmental Oncology of the University of Pitt
...more
More about Devra Davis...

Share This Book