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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Has anything changed?
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...
Published on 2 Sep 2000

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard Work
One can only applaud Carson's work and marvel at her determination to be heard and the research she did. This must have been a very shocking book at the time it was published, even now it is horrifying to look back and see what wholesale garbage the American public was being sold by those supposed to be looking after their health and welfare. It is however, a dated book...
Published on 28 Oct 2007 by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley


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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Has anything changed?, 2 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Silent Spring (Paperback)
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
By 
A. Patterson (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
"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
By 
Sarakani (Harrow United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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
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S. Meadows (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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.

With this as her starting point, Carson then details a litany of ecological disasters that have been brought about by the use of the poisons she highlights. In the crosshairs of her criticism is DDT. Its effects are laid out in shocking detail. When talking of other poisons, she often compares them to DDT, even if they are more toxic. If a criticism can be made here, it is that Carson occasionally slips into the more generic use of the word 'chemical', even though she mostly remains specific. The danger this gives rise to is that a casual reader might just pick up on the generalities and become inclined to an opposition to 'chemicals'.

Carson details how these poisons permeate the biosphere, extending their influence far beyond the areas they are intended for, including travelling through the food chain to ultimately poison some carnivores which have eaten creatures which ate leaves that were contaminated.

In her writing, Carson wanted to avoid littering the text with footnotes so while she quotes some studies, the detailed references are left for the appendix. The main text then reads less like a scientific treatise and more like polemic. Yet the strength of the writing is not baseless invective; it is referenced, but the choice to keep the main text uncluttered and clear came at the price of having the evidence scientific evidence slightly off to the side, with the rhetorical power of the anecdote more prominent.

As I read through the first half of the book, one thought went through my mind. It was that the effects of the chlorinated hydrocarbons, though poisonous, were as much due to the method of distribution. Carson then addresses this issue with her criticism of indiscriminate spraying. Indeed, before reading the book, aware of its legacy, I was aware of some criticisms that it got DDT banned when it was really the broad-brush nature of its dissemination which was the cause of the poisoning that followed it. Every time I could myself thinking "what about this..." then Carson soon addresses the point.

An example of this would be that during her exposition of the effects of poisons on people and animals, one might wonder how the poisons actually act to produce the effects described. After all, without knowing how the environment is poisoned, there remains reasonable doubt over the cause of the effects noted. Yet Carson does go into some of the biochemistry to convey to the reader an outline of the science behind poisoning.

The book is not wholly pessimistic, though. Carson highlights alternative pest control methods, with specific emphasis on the introduction of natural predators. I think a fair criticism could be made here in that while she points to examples of successes, there is inadequate consideration of the wider ecological issues of introducing non-native species to a given area.

The afterword (written in 1998) looks at Carson's legacy and the criticism the book received at the time by those who would lose out financially if her proposals were taken up. The most obvious example we see to today is the absence of DDT, now subject to a ban in many countries. It may well be worth following up with a later volume, Silent Spring Revisited, by Conor Mark Jameson. For in concluding, it has to be noted that Silent Spring was a book for its time. As a result of the impact the book made, the 50+ years since it was written have not followed the trajectory Carson feared it might had her warnings not been heeded.

It will continue to be a book that divides opinion. In writing for a wider audience, some of the scientific detail has been sacrificed. But in the opinion of this reviewer, the weaknesses in precision should not detract from the direction in which the argument goes, which is sound.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard Work, 28 Oct 2007
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
One can only applaud Carson's work and marvel at her determination to be heard and the research she did. This must have been a very shocking book at the time it was published, even now it is horrifying to look back and see what wholesale garbage the American public was being sold by those supposed to be looking after their health and welfare. It is however, a dated book which I found hard to read and difficult to sustain. I believe it was first written as a series of articles for journals and magazines, which makes sense, as each chapter is very much isolated from the others in terms of style and content, so there is little sense of flow or continuity, other than the continuation of the bad news Carson imparts. It tends to jerk from quite florid poetic writing with lyrically drawn pictures of nature which give way to horrific apocalyptic style visions into bunches of data and facts which are so dry they sit hard up against the narrative and make for difficult reading. It's still a book to recommend, particularly in today's climate and with the emphasis on green issues, but you really have to want to read it rather than just having an idle interest.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mighty oaks from small acorns grow, 6 Aug 2006
By 
D. Lomas "Daniel Lomas" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Reading some of the reviews here I can't help but feel they are reading 'Silent Spring' out of context. Being written in 1962 in will never be a current and up to date account of our pesticide use today. However I recommend it as a pioneering piece of literature, and a period piece that will stand the test of time.

Now that our bookshelves are stacked with Ecological titles, it is all the more important to re-read 'Silent Spring' and to judge for ourselves a book that actually did make a difference. For instance, this book greatly influenced my parents into becoming founder members of 'Friends of the Earth'.

What stands is an inspirational and at times poetic cry for ecological common sense. What has aged and dated stands to keep our contemporary rhetoric in check. Rachel Carson has a searching and inquisitive mind. Let this book be the document that she would want it to be - A step towards understanding our continued place in the world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read it!!!, 30 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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 reading this book and want to change your lifestyle to organic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars good and new, 25 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Silent Spring (Paperback)
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. except the paper turns yellow, everything was like a new! and I got this book within two days after I booked.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What governments around the world have got away with by hoodwinking ordinary people, 6 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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 eradicate pests.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sadly relevant, 14 Mar 2011
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This review is from: Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
When reading this book, you cannot help but be filled with an innate sense of sadness, in part due to the horrific tales which Carson tells (all of which are a necessity in order for the book to hit home) and in part due to the fact that many of these tales still seem relevant today and most of the others, with a little modification, can be applied to much of the environmental damage our species is causing today.
A highly relevant book, which is very touching, Carsons poetic writing style lends itself to a very easy read, this coupled with solid information and hard-hitting examples of the damage done make this book an absolute must read for everyone. I firmly believe that every politician & world leader should be made to read this book and remind them of the dangers and consequences their actions have on the environment and perhaps make them think that little bit deeper about the consequences of deforestation, of removing native untouched habitat and of course of the use of harsh & unnatural chemicals in day to day life.
I cannot recommend this book enough, it does make you look at things differently and that is ultimately one of the most important things.
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Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics)
Silent Spring (Penguin Modern Classics) by Rachel Carson (Paperback - 28 Sep 2000)
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