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Silent Spring

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  28,510 ratings  ·  1,724 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 September 27th 1962)
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Samantha Currently, there are several fields of study devoted addressing current and potentially negative impacts of food systems and farming methods, such as…moreCurrently, there are several fields of study devoted addressing current and potentially negative impacts of food systems and farming methods, such as rural sociology, various agricultural sciences, food ethics, etc. A good place to start might be "From Field to Fork: Food Ethics for Everyone" by Paul Thompson or "The Ethics of What We Eat" by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. In addition, the 2016 collection published by Oxford University Press called "Food, Ethics, and Society: An Introductory Text with Readings" may be also be helpful, as it gives readers a feel for the depth of work currently being done on food systems. I could also send you a list of readings from the agricultural sciences, as well, if you like. The above readings are pretty accessible, but readings can quickly take one down the academic "rabbit hole," if you're not careful.

I currently publish in this area and work with small scale farmers and pork producers in the US, so I am more than happy to provide resources for further exploration in this area.

Meanwhile, happy reading!

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Riku Sayuj
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: screened, r-r-rs, ecology
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The book is of course outdated and most of the bigger concerns have been, if not addressed, at least taken seriously.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, t
This is a classic. It has not lost its validity. It has an important global message still today, 54 years after publication. Everyone should read this at least once.

This reads as a horror story, but it is true.

-The scientific studies are numerous, clear and to the point.
-The demise of habitats and living creatures are lyrically depicted.
-The author expertly alternates between poetic expression and scientific accuracy.
-Eloquent prose.

That’s the essential.

Carson shows through carefully identif
Debbie "DJ"
Mar 22, 2015 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
David Schaafsma
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”--Mitch McConnell, about Elizabeth Warren

Poisoning the Planet with Impunity [Part 2, 2017]

“Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.”—Albert Schweitzer

This lovely, eloquent, poetic book, published in 1962 and nominated for The National Book Award, was read to me by the woman who played the part of Rachel in the movie, Kaiulani Lee, in a gentle voice that belies the storm
Oct 09, 2008 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
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who cares about the future of the world
5★+! Reposted in honour of her 111th birthday!

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 D
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is nonfiction concerning the harmful effects that chemicals, which were created to make life easier for man (pesticides, weed killers, etc.) have on the environment. This was first published in 1962 and the author is credited for opening the door on his topic. However, even now, 55 years later, it is still considered a hot topic. Great strides have been made in this arena, but vigilance must me constant.

While reading this, I kept thinking that ignorance is bliss ONLY for those who don't ha
Roy Lotz
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Advocacy is tricky. When you’re trying to motivate people to take action, you need to decide whether to appeal to the head, to the heart, to some combination of the two, or perhaps to some more delicate faculty. Upton Sinclair miscalculated when he wrote The Jungle, aiming for the heart but instead hitting the stomach; and as a result, the book was interpreted as an exposé of the meat industry rather than a plea for the working poor. Aldo Leopold, in A Sand County Almanac, eschews appeals to exp ...more
Feb 08, 2012 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
Author's Note
Introduction, by Lord Shackleton
Preface, by Julian Huxley, F.R.S.

--Silent Spring

Afterword, by Linda Lear
List of Principal Sources
Sarah Enescu
Jan 23, 2008 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
Science (Fiction) Comedy Horror and Fantasy Geek/Nerd
One person alone can achieve anything if there is a dedicated public behind it.

Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

It is inspiring to see what a human with a vision has achieved on his own. The book has changed the behavior of one of the most influential governments in the world. Although only in the short term and partly, but at least.

More than half a century after its publication, politics and the economy are still downplay
Nov 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Update May2018 A couple of good articles about the book were recently brought to my attention. The WSJ one is here:

The Daily Beast did one titled "How Rachel Carson Cost Millions of People Their Lives" about the unintended consequences. It's here:

I haven't had time to read either yet.

Nov 2008: I've re-read this after maybe 30 years & it is still scary. It is a classic environmental book, detailing how we're chang
Jordan Berg
Jun 13, 2007 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
Oct 05, 2007 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,
Dec 29, 2013 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
Joanna Hartell
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I thought this would be very outdated, but in fact I didn't think it was. It was historical in a way, and I would like to read an update on the science and a more recent history of our use of pesticides, and the banning (or not) of the ones she mentions. I think we still face many or all of the problems Carson talks about, and global warming as well. When I hear now that a bunch of birds are found dead, like all the redwing blackbirds that died in the south a few years ago, I have no doubt it is ...more
Pete daPixie
Mar 10, 2009 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
Mary Anne
Mar 15, 2008 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
Jul 29, 2008 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
P. Lundburg
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It wasn't until I was looking for a Rachel Carson book to read that I realized I never rated or reviewed this one. I'm currently reading "The Sea Around Us," but am rating this one from a couple of years' memory.

This book is truly a classic in the nature lit world. Carson has that unique ability, like Stephen Jay Gould and Carl Sagan, to write like a creative writer while coming to us from the world of science. So if you read this, don't be surprised if you find yourself suddenly in a section of
Erik Graff
Feb 15, 2009 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
The major chemical companies are pouring money into the universities to support research on insecticides. This creates attractive fellowships for graduate students and attractive staff positions. Biological-control studies, on the other hand, are never so endowed — for the simple reason that they do not promise anyone the fortunes that are to be made in the chemical industry. These are left to state and federal agencies, where the salaries paid are far less.
Should you take an ethics engineerin
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
Brit Cheung
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's a great book full of information and worth seriously pondering. We are possibly not plagued by pesticides today but the contemporary world continuously abounds with other man-inflicted predicaments.

The book transcends its time and contents and assumes new revelations and significance for the modern society.

Unfortunately,The slow undoing and apocalypse triggerd by human beings have evolved with the time . We all know we need to be pragmatic and cannot possess too high expectations for our i
Rebecca Renner
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm writing about this book for one of my favorite websites. Stay tuned!
Jun 28, 2017 added it
Shelves: science
[There’s definitely some kind of trend going on with my reads lately. Poison. Poison, poison, poison. My family members should watch their drinks, apparently.]

Trailblazing female marine biologist in the 1940s & 50s? Check.

Thinks humans are arrogant and overstate their significance in the world? Check.

Changed the world with a book? Check.

Wrote a readable book for laypeople, not academics? Check.

Gracefully aknowledges the significance of the “faithful help” of her housekeeper in the acknowled
Theresa Leone Davidson
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I first read this book almost twenty five years ago, and rereading it now confirms my opinion at that time that Carson, long viewed as one of the most influential women in America, was brilliant. In the book, Carson drew attention at the time (1962) to the damage to the environment being caused by pesticides, particularly the toxic effects of dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane (DDT) on the bird population. Carson’s conclusions also suggested potential harm to humans. In 1962, this was huge, and t ...more
May 10, 2015 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
Aug 04, 2011 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
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  • The End of Nature
  • Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit
  • Living Downstream: A Scientist's Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment
  • Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature
  • Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival? A Scientific Detective Story
  • A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There
  • Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth
  • Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect
  • The Future Of Life
  • The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples
  • Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators
  • Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas
  • The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live & Why They Matter
  • Wilderness and the American Mind
  • The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature
  • The Everglades: River of Grass
  • The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability
  • On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson, Author of Silent Spring
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
“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.” 1476 likes
“In nature nothing exists alone.” 170 likes
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