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Silent Spring

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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  19,659 ratings  ·  1,039 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

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The book is of course outdated and most of the bigger concerns have been if not addressed, at least taken seriously.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
...more
Ken-ichi
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
Debbie "DJ" Wilson
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
Jim
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
...more
Jordan Berg
Jun 13, 2007 Jordan Berg rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
...more
Sarah Vendetti
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
Claire
Mar 13, 2012 Claire rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Mary Anne
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
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
...more
Janet
Oct 21, 2007 Janet rated it 5 of 5 stars
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,
...more
Erin
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
Christopher
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
...more
Goose
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
...more
Kahn
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
...more
Katie
Sep 24, 2013 Katie rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Erik Graff
Feb 15, 2009 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
Adam
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
Samantha
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
Dennis
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
...more
Jo
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
sonicbooming
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
Kevin
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
Dave
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
...more
Lo
Nov 28, 2011 Lo rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
You know, this was a truly excellent book and succeeds at spreading forth the message Rachel Carson wants us to take home:
You are what you eat, and if you try to protect your food you will succumb to the same fate as those you are trying to protect it from.

Silent Spring is a scientific novel (which is probably why I enjoyed it so much) - she methodically goes through every possible loop hole you could think of as to why we should put chemical sprays on our foods. Ironically, we STILL 50 years l
...more
Sarah Krech
May 02, 2011 Sarah Krech is currently reading it
Silent Spring
My grandpa once owned a t-shirt that read, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” As I began to read through the pages of Silent Spring I thought about that powerful message. I wondered what pictures we will have for our future generations? The author Rachel Carson, who was a marine biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service warned back in 1962, over forty-five years ago about the effects of chemical usage on our environment and felt obligated to write and inform people
...more
Colin
Being the 'environmentalist' that I am, I had of course heard of this book for years. Fortunately, the opportunity to read it came to me: it was assigned reading for a the IPM (integrated pest management) class I'm still currently taking. And yes, it was one of the most discouraging books I have ever read. To know just how deeply and completely the world (in 1962, even!) has been soiled by agrichemicals is a very rude awakening, yet I'd rather be cured of my ignorance in this and all . . . ok, m ...more
Joanna Hartell
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
Colleen Clark
A timely book to read or reread. I remember the first chapter but I don't remember whether I read the whole book 50+ years ago.

For anyone who doesn't already know, Carson writes about the use and misuse of pesticides to control insects and "weeds", broadly speaking in the service of agriculture and to "protect" human health. The "silent" in the title draws attention to the unintended consequences. Many pesticides, DDT in particular, decimated many species of birds by killing the insects they ate
...more
Zachariah
Really good. The book addresses a narrower subject matter than I expected--it focuses on pesticides. But it covers a lot of related considerations (damage to environment and wildlife, humans, effectiveness, pests adaptation, alternatives, business, etc) that it didn't get boring or feel like "droning on"; except maybe a bit in the middle :P. I think the last third was the most interesting, so don't stop half way through!

While I was reading the book, I often wanted to know how much different thin
...more
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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
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.” 1103 likes
“In nature nothing exists alone.” 95 likes
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