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Silent Spring

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  25,326 Ratings  ·  1,414 Reviews
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring alerted a large audience to the environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides, spurring revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Lord Shackleton, a preface by World Wildlife Fund founder Julian Huxley, and an afterword by Carson' ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 28th 2000 by Penguin Books Ltd. (first published 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!
BT Nutter If you are going to state that a book is badly flawed, you should list some of the things that you believe are wrong. Anyone can write a book to…moreIf you are going to state that a book is badly flawed, you should list some of the things that you believe are wrong. Anyone can write a book to present another side, that does not necessarily mean either book is correct.(less)

Community Reviews

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Riku Sayuj
Aug 30, 2011 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
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"
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sarah Enescu
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
Jordan Berg
Jun 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Pete daPixie
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary Anne
Mar 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 yo
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
[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
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
Theresa Leone Davidson
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  ·  review of another edition
...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
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
After reading this amazing, mind-blowing exposé of the near disastrous consequences that humans have wrought on the natural world with our overuse and misuse of pesticides, I'll never take birds, fish and even the lowly earthworms for granted again. This book is a real cautionary tale that we all should read and heed before what Miss Carson uncovered in the '60s becomes irreversible, assuming it isn't already too late.
Camilla Wallin Bergström
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
A deeply disturbing and poetic account of the insidious and irreversible ways pesticides and residue of chemical pollution travel through our planet's nervous system. Still as important as ever. A must-read.
Mohamed al-Jamri
My notes while reading the book:

Originated the modern environmental movement.

Short summary of her and her book. She was a biologist and scientific writer, faced pressure from the industry after publishing the book, but she triumphed over them. Died due to breast cancer.

Read by a soft female voice. Very appropriate since author is a woman and

Chapter 1: A fable for tomorrow

Poetic description of the possible demise and disasters striking wild life, all of them (not collectively) have actually happe
I had to set this book down many times to research the details. Did airplanes really spray chemicals over cities in the 50s and 60s? (answer: yes.) What is the modern method of dealing with fire ants? (answer: basically what Rachel Carson recommends in this book). Whatever happened to Rachel Carson anyway? (answer: she died of cancer just a few years after this book came out. Her voice in Silent Spring has a certain desperation about it--and understandably so.)

While at times I felt she leaned a
Sep 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Brit Cheung
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
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The Greener Reader: How outdated in Silent Spring, really? 9 43 Jul 29, 2017 02:43PM  
The Greener Reader: Inaccuracies/ Faults with Silent Spring 5 44 Jul 29, 2017 02:21PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: #50 Silent Spring 1 2 Jun 16, 2017 05:19AM  
Nature Literature: Silent Spring available online 5 16 May 24, 2017 06:53PM  
Sci-Fi & Fantasy ...: April 2017 - Silent Spring 17 6 Apr 29, 2017 08:22AM  
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  • 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
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.” 1345 likes
“In nature nothing exists alone.” 146 likes
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