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Silent Spring

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  34,045 ratings  ·  2,158 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The book is of course outdated and most of the bigger concerns have been, if not addressed, at least taken seriously.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
David Schaafsma
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature
Happy Earth Day, 2020, though it feels more like a dirge than a waltz we are dancing today, as Trump takes the occasion of a global pandemic to relax all environmental poison controls while we are supposedly listening daily to his self-promoting campaign speeches. To allow more mercury to be dumped into, for instance, my Great Lakes, is both homicidal and suicidal, that particular combination of arrogance and ignorance that characterizes "our" approach to the environment today. Read Rachel Carso ...more
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
"We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's poem, they are not equally fair. The road we are travelling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road - the one 'less travelled by' - offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our earth". (p.240)

I found Rachel Carson's famous Silent Spring a beautifully written book, that in t
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
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
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
Mario the lone bookwolf
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
Reader Boy
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book written more than 50 years but still stands true.
Written mainly about chemicals, fertilisers and their affects in United States, many of these chemicals mentioned are now banned but also new , powerful and more dangerous chemicals have been introduced in our environment.
Surely this book is hard to review as it covers a lot of scientific information on chemicals and their hazardous affects on man, animals, food and on the earth as a whole. So many animals, insects, crops have been mentio
Jan 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Indeed and both content and writing style wise, Rachel Carson’s seminal and oh so important for the environmental movement Silent Spring generally reads both flowingly and with graceful, understated (but also emotionally textually dense) eloquence (but yes and sadly, after more than fifty years since the 1964 publication of Silent Sprung, there not only still remains very much to be done with regard to stopping or at least severely limiting overusing pesticides but it also does seem that in rece ...more
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:
You need a subscription to read this, but basically it does a good job of putting her book in context.
...Carson’s assault on pesticides and herbicides shocked 1962 Americans, who generally viewed these chemicals as the latest marvels from the awesome scientists whose previous inventions had won World War II. Consumer advertisements extolled th
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
Francesca Calarco
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
In 1962, a scientist named Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring detailing the hazardous environmental effects of pesticides and herbicides being used in the United States. She wrote with factual accuracy that urgently detailed the horrific implications of prolonged chemical use, and with beautiful prose that framed this work in her undeniable love of nature. And the kicker is that people actually listened to her. Reading this book in 2019, it seems sadly nostalgic to look back at a time when the ge ...more
E. G.
Author's Note
Introduction, by Lord Shackleton
Preface, by Julian Huxley, F.R.S.

--Silent Spring

Afterword, by Linda Lear
List of Principal Sources
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Five stars for the revolutionary importance of the book, in its day, and the almost poetically literate style.
Hákon Gunnarsson
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I came across a reference to this book a while back. It was in a booklet about climate change, and it said there that Rachel Carson was responsible for millions of lives lost to malaria. The writer of the booklet claimed these deaths occurred because Silent Spring killed off the use of DDT to fight mosquitos that spread malaria. This caught my attention because even though I had heard about Carson, and Silent Spring before, I had never heard about this. So I finally got around to reading Silent ...more
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
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 engineer
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
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
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
A historically important book and it does contain very important information about pesticides and how their often unregulated and unwarranted use impacts wildlife and humanity. However, each part seems very repetitive, driving the same narrative over and over again, which significantly takes away from the readability. Pick up the foreword and any one single chapter, and you will get pretty much everything there’s to get out of Silent Spring. Impactful as a long essay, but tedious in its entirety ...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
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
Rebecca Renner
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm writing about this book for one of my favorite websites. Stay tuned!
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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

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