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Silent Spring [Paperback]

Rachel Carson , Linda Lear
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 Oct 2003
Focuses on the effects of the indiscriminate use of chemicals, describing how pesticides and insecticides are applied almost universally to farms, forests, gardens and homes with scant regard to the contamination of the environment and the destruction of wildlife.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (Trade); 40th edition (23 Oct 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618249060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618249060
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 14.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 914,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Carson's books brought ecology into popular consciousness (Daily Telegraph)

If anybody asked me to write about my hero, it would be Rachel Carson (A. S. Byatt)

Rachel Carson educated a planet... One of the most effective books ever written (Guardian)

Carson's book has changed the world (The Times) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

Now recognised as one of the most influential books of the Twentieth Century, Silent Spring exposed the destruction of wildlife through the widespread use of pesticides. Despite condemnation in the press and heavy-handed attempts by the chemical industry to ban the book, Rachel Carson succeeded in creating a new public awareness of the environment which led to changes in government policy and inspired the modern ecological movement.

'Very few books change the course of history. Those that have include ... Silent Spring.' Linda Lear, author of Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
THERE WAS ONCE a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Has anything changed? 2 Sep 2000
By A Customer
I read the original version of this book published in 1962, and I believe this book should be compulsory reading not only for every person who says that s/he cares for the environment, but also for those that say they don't care. Maybe it'll make them care. The book is a strong indictment against the chemical industry and the havoc that their products create in every part of the world (including our cosy homes), about the dangers of more and more insects and pests becoming resistent to chemicals and a strong call to look for alternatives that do not damage all our lives (animal, plant and human). But when I read the newspapers, not much appears to have changed in almost 40 years: many of us (especially politicians) still live in the back pockets of the chemical industry! After all, money and jobs are more important than saving what is left, isn't it?
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended 21 Jan 2009
"The sedge is wither'd from the lake, and no bird sings." So begins this book with an eerie quote from Keats. Imagine a world without birdsong, with decreased biodiversity and increasingly threatened species, on account of human ignorance and technological pollution. Rachel Carson tells it like it is in Silent Spring, credited by many as the book which ignited the environmental revolution in the 60's. "What we have to face is not an occasional dose of poison which has accidentally got into some article of food, but a persistent and continuous poisoning of the whole human environment". Written in 1962, this book is more relevant today than ever, and based on science that still holds good. It will basically scare the hell out of you- you may never reach for an innocent looking can of fly spray or some other household chemical again. The science of Clinical Ecology wasn't around when Rachel Carson wrote this book, and I credit her with founding a whole science based on her tireless work of advocacy for the cause against the agrochemical and pharmaceutical machine. Due to family circumstances and her humanity in caring for her sick and elderly parents, and then her own breast cancer, she was unable to undertake doctoral work. I believe she is a worthy candidate for a posthumous award- a shining light in the science world who deserves far more credit for her work.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book they tried to dismiss 2 Sep 2006
In "Any Questions" on BBC Radio 4 a panel of politicians were quizzed in turn as to one person they thought would be regarded as an important person in the future from the 20th century who improved the lot of us humans. Of about four panelists one said Nelson Mandela. Important though Mandela is, none of the other panelists had anyone else to suggest so they also ended up saying Nelson Mandela. I would have mentioned Rachel Carson representing as yet an unsung heroine - the pioneer of the "Deep Ecology" movement.

Unfortunately a lot of what she had to say is still ignored by mainstream politicians though enough has trickled through to create a stream of people who think in the context of concern for all life on Earth rather than how best one group of us can dominate and manipulate our human and environmental resources at irreplaceable cost to life as we know it.

This is the book that started it all - showing us that science and technology unrestrained were not the solution to all our problems. The EPA at least owes its very existence to Carson.

I salute Carson and her book as a lighthouse that guided our thinking from the cliffs of short sighted destructiveness. Long may the beacon prevail.

This is an important book. Perhaps dated, Carson's voice is not shrill but reasoned and strident. A classic worth sharing and upgrading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A book of its time, but still worth heeding 28 July 2014
I read this as a follow-up to James Lovelock’s Gaia since, in these two works, we have two of the most influential books on the modern environmental movement.

This particular edition (Penguin Modern Classics) includes several introductions/prefaces. What quickly becomes clear from these is that the introductions were written for a British audience as it draws contrasts between the British environmental movement and the account that Carson presents in the main text, which is fairly US-centric. The other thing that is pointed out is that Carson found biochemistry as her secondary calling, having initially aimed to be a writer earlier in life. Therefore, it was a great delight for her to be able to write a book and I would say that in terms of the quality of writing, she is a lot more skilled than some novelists I have read.

The focus is on certain classes of chemicals (mostly chlorinated hydrocarbons) that have been used as insecticides, pesticides and herbicides. Though Carson notes that a more generic term is that is more appropriate is that they are biocides, or poisons. The fact is that if they are sprayed with the intention of killing a particular species, they are indiscriminate and affect the entire environment in which they are spread and the areas which are ecologically and geographically linked.

She begins with a short story. It is a scenario which acts as an executive summary of all the outcomes that have been observed and which are documented throughout the book. Only here, she brings them all together and envisions a town beset by every ill effect brought about by the use of such poisons. This serves as an executive summary, with the scene of death reminding me of The Andromeda Strain.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Revolutionary in its day and still rings bells now.
Published 7 days ago by Plain Jane
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic, an eye-opener of man against nature.
Classic of course but interesting stuff. Packed with accounts of environmental disasters of '60's. A good starting point for everyone interested in environmental/ agricultural/... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Wendy Woo
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening...
...if a little depressing! So very interesting though. She was a visionary and unfortunately some of her grim predictions seem to be coming to reality. A must read for all.
Published 1 month ago by ValerieV
1.0 out of 5 stars Shoddy science that helped launch eco-activism and thereby cause...
The dust has long settled on this book, and its many shortcomings have been established. The success of it when published surely drew many politically-ambitious and ruthless... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Occasional Thinker
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a book which should be read by anyone at all concerned about...
I first read this in 1965 when it made a considerable impact. Now however it is mostly forgotten by new generations of readers. I am re reading it & the impact is now anger. Read more
Published 5 months ago by ImaginaryZoo
5.0 out of 5 stars really good
really good great read really good great read really good great read really good great read really good great read the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy telephone
Published 7 months ago by andibee
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it!!!
Such an important book. Everyone needs to read this book , it is easy to understand but scientific and opened my eyes so much, you will look at food in a different way after... Read more
Published 9 months ago by tambowas
5.0 out of 5 stars good and new
It's really amazing. a great book about the horrible effect of chemical insecticides. The book itself was cheap and in good quality. no any notes was found. Read more
Published 9 months ago by KUNRONG LUO
5.0 out of 5 stars What governments around the world have got away with by hoodwinking...
When I opened the first page and started reading, I had to keep reading this book. It's so well written and it explains what happens to our eco system by using chemicals to... Read more
Published 14 months ago by mr. alexander c balmer
2.0 out of 5 stars depressed
rather depressed after reading this and its a bit dragged out. proberbly a great book if you are studying in this area but not bed time reading.
Published 17 months ago by mark
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