Silent Spring

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Silent Spring is a book written by Rachel Carson and published by Houghton Mifflin on 27 September 1962.[1] The book is widely credited with helping launch the environmental movement.[2]

The New Yorker started serializing Silent Spring in June 1962, and it was published in book form (with illustrations by Lois and Louis Darling) by Houghton Mifflin later that year. When the book Silent Spring was published, Rachel Carson was already a well-known writer on natural history, but had not previously been a social critic. The book was widely read—especially after its selection by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the New York Times best-seller list—and inspired widespread public concerns with pesticides and pollution of the environment. Silent Spring facilitated the ban of the pesticide DDT[3] in 1972 in the United States.

The book documented detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds. Carson said that DDT had been found to cause thinner egg shells and result in reproductive problems and death. She also accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation, and public officials of accepting industry claims uncritically.

Silent Spring has been featured in many lists of the best nonfiction books of the twentieth century. In the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Nonfiction it was at #5, and it was at #78 in the conservative National Review.[4] Most recently, Silent Spring was named one of the 25 greatest science books of all time by the editors of Discover Magazine.[5]

A follow-up book, Beyond Silent Spring,[6] co-authored by H.F. van Emden and David Peakall, was published in 1996.

Contents

Background

By tradition and by Carson's own public assertions, the impetus for Silent Spring was ostensibly a letter written in January 1958[7] by Carson's friend, Olga Owens Huckins,[8] to The Boston Herald, describing the death of numerous birds around her property resulting from the aerial spraying of DDT to kill mosquitoes, a copy of which Huckins sent to Carson.[8] Carson has stated that the letter prompted her to turn her attention to environmental problems caused by chemical pesticides.[9][10]

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