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Under the Sea Wind

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  939 ratings  ·  98 reviews
Rachel Carson--pioneering environmentalist and author of Silent Spring--opens our eyes to the wonders of the natural world in her groundbreaking paean to the sea.

Celebrating the mystery and beauty of birds and sea creatures in their natural habitat, Under the Sea-Wind--Rachel Carson's first book and her personal favorite--is the early masterwork of one of America's greates
Paperback, Centennial Edition, 208 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Penguin Group (first published 1941)
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The book started out as an assignment she completed in 1936, when she was an unemployed zoologist and freelance writer for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. Asked to write an introduction to a brochure on marine life, she submitted an essay entitled “The World of Waters” neatly typed by her mother, as all her manuscripts would be.

The next day Carson sat in Higgins’s Washington D.C. office waiting for his verdict.The government ichthyologist knew at once that it was unsuitable. What he was reading wa
Having recently read Silent Spring, I wanted more of the author's fantastic writing.

Nature writing at its best in vivid, lyrical prose. She writes about ocean and shore life so you feel you are there. The reader follows birds, fish, crustaceans and even eel! You follow an interlude in these creatures’ respective lives. It is utterly amazing the extent to which Carson makes the reader feel part of their aquatic existence. Violent storms, dense fog and lulling, lapping seas under blue skies. Preda
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015_sow

The island lay in shadows only a little deeper than those that were swiftly stealing across the sound from the east. On its western shore the wet sand of the narrow beach caught the same reflection of palely gleaming sky that laid a bright path across the water from island beach to horizon. Both water and sand were the color of steel overlaid with the sheen of silver, so that it was hard to say where water ended and land began.

That's just beautiful, right? This is the opening paragraph in a
Deborah Ideiosepius
This was a magical, enthralling book.

Rachel Carson, worked as a marine biologist for the US Bureau of Fisheries and from a work related article, Under the Sea-wind grew and was her first book. Published in 1941 (I think) it was no great success, but ten years later came back on the scene with the publication to great acclaim, of The Sea Around Us. It is a bit scary to think that had she not kept writing this book might have been lost because I think it is brilliant!

In Under the Sea - Wind, Rach
Free download available at FadedPage

The special mystery and beauty of the sea, which Rachel Carson caught and translated so memorably in _The Sea Around Us_, is again brought before the reader as the backdrop for Miss Carson's portrait of the birds and fishes that inhabit the eastern rim of our continent. In a series of descriptive narratives unfolding the life of the shore, the open sea, and the sea bottom, the author begins with the deep hush of a spring twilight along the North Carolina coast
Although famous today for Silent Spring, Rachel Carson had already made her name decades earlier. During the 1930s, as a young zoologist specialising in marine ecology, she helped pay the bills with a series of essays which appeared in newspapers such as the Boston Globe and attracted widespread praise. These led, in turn, to several books about the ocean, of which Under the Sea-Wind was the first.
It reads almost like a nature documentary, a narrative description (illustrated with pencil sketch
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature, travel
Before David Attenborough and nature television, there was Rachel Carson. What's so phenomenal about this 1941 book was that it was her first, published when she was in her mid-30s.

It can be challenging to read what we are so accustomed to seeing visually. However, Carson's narration is spectacular, taking the reader through ecosystems with the animals themselves as characters. I would say that Caron's writing actually eclipses nature film: it allows to push deeper beyond the exciting, shimmeri
Bob Brinkmeyer
Mar 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
If nature is a mystery, then Rachel Carson is a mystery writer. Under the Sea Wind, Carson’s first book (coming two decades before her landmark Silent Spring), is an astonishing journey through the ecology of the sea, the shore, and the air above. A marine biologist, Carson in Under the Sea Wind imaginatively follows the life cycles of several fish and birds as they navigate through and above the sea. Here we meet Rynchops the black skimmer, Scomber the mackerel, and Anguilla the eel (their name ...more
Kerri Anne
What can I say about Rachel Carson that hasn't already been said? Every page she ever wrote is a page I want to swim in. This book is an ocean unto itself, and in my opinion should be required reading in schools, offices, and fishing boats everywhere, if only to help all of us really come to terms with the utter interdependency of oceanic (and all) ecosystems.

It feels so apt that I stumbled into this quote of Carson's right after finishing this book: "The winds, the sea, the moving tides are wha
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was Rachael Carson's first book coming out in 1941. What a magical read. You can travel with Scomber the mackeral from his birth as he grows and migrates. You'll know as much as a human can what it's like to travel throught the ocean and have close encounters with a constant array of predators. Or spend some time with Pandion and his osprey mate as the mate, migrate, nest, and care for their young. It's the closest I've ever felt to flying through the air. Their nest was 6 ft. across and mo ...more
A lyrical exploration of the wildlife of the eastern United States over the space of a year, mixing prose and science in a way reminiscent of the later books by Richard Fortey. Rachel incorporates elements of children's books in her way of naming animals and following their individual lives, yet this is just one aspect weaving through a poetic yet scientifically rigorous description of these coastal waters and of the abyss looming off-shore. Taking the perspective of the animals themselves allow ...more
Aug 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Unbelievably beautiful. Its another of those books which demand to be read out loud. An extraordinary description of the life of rivers and seas. A prose love poem, you might say, to mother nature. If you love being inspired, then read this one.
Cliff Davis


A Great Depression still fresh and raw. A world plunging into war.

It was not a propitious time for a writer to enter the literary world, with a book that follows the life-story of a sanderling (seabird), a mackerel and an eel.

Rachel Carson was 34 that year, and though that book, “Under the Sea Wind,” won praise, it didn’t sell well. A decade would pass before the sequel, “The Sea Around Us,” became a best-seller and brought attention back to her first work. And 11 more years went by before
Nov 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I always thought that David Attenborough had a unique style of telling us about the secrets of the natural world, but I think this book is where it all comes from. It was written in 1941 by Rachel Carson, a marine biologist that was the first to use anthropomorfism to describe nature. Attenborough does the same and he does that very good, but he uses pictures while Carson only uses words. It all started with a pamphlet 'The World of Waters' that she had to write for her employer. He declared it ...more
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
It will CHANGE the way you feel about MACKEREL, forever!
Barbara Rhine
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? I've read a lot of books in my life, and never anything like this one. Carson takes a stretch of the Atlantic coast and ocean, spreads it from the Arctic to Virginia, and, after informing us that her only purpose in doing this is to make sense for humans, tells the stories of its inhabitants as if she were writing a novel. The characters include Rynchops, a black skimmer; Blackfoot and Silverbar, a mating pair of sanderlings; Pandion, a fish hawk, or osprey; Mugil, a millet; Whit ...more
The main problem I had with Under the Sea Wind was the fact that I like my non-fiction to be, let's say, less fictional. I know, crazy thought. While the information and details of each species detailed is accurate, Carson chose to personify and "follow" specific members of species and name them. It felt much more on par with a novel rather than a serious work of environmental non-fiction. This aspect may very well appeal to those looking for a lighter environmental read but I like less lyrical, ...more
Jan 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is Rachel Carson’s first book (1941), and her personal favorite. In it she tells charming nature stories, poetically spoken yet full of scientific fact about ocean animals and the interrelatedness of life in ocean, estuary, and river. The characters are often individual mackerel, arctic owls, eels, etc. that are seen in the context of their entire ecosystem (a word originally coined by Carson). She looks at the changes in this ecosystem throughout seasons and lifecycles, from the viewpoint ...more
Skip Stoddard
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
An incredibly scientific and detailed description of the life cycles and behaviors of a number of creatures that inhabit the water and air along our coastal zones. The main characters, a black skimmer (a shore bird), a mackerel, and an eel, are imbued with human thoughts and emotions that pull the reader in to their world. A fascinating, well written introduction to ecology.
Larry Taylor
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
this is a natural classic; should be read by everyone who loves nature
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I've read by Rachel Carson, the incredible naturalist of the mid-20th century whose landmark work "Silent Spring" got people to wake up to the horrors of the impacts the chemical industry was having on wildlife and their habitats. Under the Sea Wind was her first writing attempt and it was received in kind of a lukewarm way when it was first released in the early 1940s. With the publication of The Sea Around Us in the 1950s, however, she became a household name and this li ...more
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The life histories of three denizens of sea and shore, spun in a rather disarming way: American Eel (Anguilla rostrata), mackerel (Scomber sp.), and several species of migratory shorebirds, among them Sanderling (Calidris alba). While Carson's trope of giving proper names to certain of her protagonists introduces a bit of Potteresque whimsy, it is clear she is not writing for children. Oceans and bay are places of eat or be eaten, sometimes both within the course of a single paragraph (p. 35).

Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
A magical, delightful adventure through multiple forms and locations of sea life. Beautiful language and a curious way of telling: Under the Sea-Wind flows along like a children’s book, and it also has animals with first names. But the animals act like actual animals and every line written is based on science, making the book a mix between a story and a non-fiction book. Rachel Carson is a badass, one of the few women in the early 1900s who was taken seriously as a scientist and marine biologist ...more
Charles Sheard
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, sciences, on-the-sea
Reading this book is not merely a wonderful replacement of the human perspective with the view of sea-going creatures, but it is also a re-affirmation of the power of the written word to bring completely new things to life for a reader. For Carson is able to bring the reader along into the sea and paint pictures as stunning as the Blue Planet documentaries, with a voice as mellifluous as a David Attenborough nature narration. She may be most famous for Silent Spring, but Under the Sea Wind is si ...more
Ray Clendenen
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a delightful book! Even though written 80 years ago(!), it is extremely well written and full of fascinating information. The creativity is apparent on every page. By the use of moderate anthropomorphism, the life of the creatures she describes is made vivid and interesting by taking on the form of a story. I've never liked eels, and didn't know anything about them. They just look creepy to me. But she made eels into fascinating creatures. I love how she shows creatures' lives guided by ...more
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Rachael Carson. Having read none of her books and being (somewhat) environmentally conscious, I thought this wold be a diatribe against big oil big agra, big business, etc and such.

Instead I found myself engrossed above and below the sea, exploring this world through the beautiful imagery of Carson's words, the undersea portrayed through the eyes of a young mackerel, or the long East Coast during annual migration to the Arctic as a bird. The balance of nature and the worries about predators was
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5/5 what a delightful journey! Magnificently written. I flew with Rynchops the black skimmer, Blackfoot and Silverbar, the two sanderlings, Ookpik the owl, Kigavik the gyrfalcon, and I lived for a few minutes their day to day, their struggles, their needs, their calls. Through Scomber the mackerel, Aurelia the moon jelly, Anguilla the eel, I was allowed to have a glimpse of the magic world of the shore, the open sea, and the sea bottom, of the cycles of life and death, of the unimaginable comp ...more
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Rachel Carson's narrative is beautiful poetry in prose, her descriptions are vivid; some of the best nature writing I've read. In this book she writes three stories, the first about the seashore, second the open ocean, and third the dark waters where the sun doesn't reach. We follow life cycles and seasonal cycles of the birds, fish, and a myriad of creatures dependent on the sea, the wind, the tides. My favorite was the first narrative, in which we are introduced to Silverbar, a young sanderlin ...more
Jamie Strickland
This was the first book I read on my new Kindle Paperwhite. I couldn’t have picked a better inaugural book. This ways the first of Rachel Carson’s four books. Like all of her work, it continues to resonate with contemporary readers. The wonderfully evocative prose brings us along on three separate, yet interconnected migrations of sanderlings, mackerels and eels. The extensive glossary at the end not only provides information about the various species captured in its pages, but also heightened m ...more
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500 Great Books B...: Under the Sea-Wind - Rachel Carson - Claire 2 13 Sep 21, 2015 08:11AM  

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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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