Silent Spring By Rachel Carson


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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mostafa kamal
One really should read this book to see how an opportunist like Rachel Carson can take vague statements and innuendo while mixing facts and fantasy until it is not only believable, but downright frightening! If you wonder how Greenpeace got so carried away that the original founder quit, and children are frightened and brainwashed by their parents and well-meaning teachers, read this!
It is impossible to calculate the negative effect this particular book has had on the world. This is where the concept of "Zero Tolerance" originated, (Think about that realistically.) Zero Tolerance means passing judgement based on any trace of evidence without using any additional facts, input, or information! It is an idiotic thing to do, and has caused millions of people to die from malaria and other insect-born illnesses, while hundreds of thousand of people have starved from curtailed crop production and destruction from pests after harvest. Rachel Carson completely ignored any and all studies that did not agree with her agenda, and she did this even when she had actually been involved in the study herself! In short... Rachel Carson was a Con Artist!

If anyone doubts what I have said here, they will find plenty of proof in the well documented book: http://www.the
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
m diya
A must read
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Great book and prompt delivery.
God Save the Queen: Book 1 of the Immortal Empire :: Number 4 in series (Finishing School) - Manners and Mutiny :: Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School 1) :: Imprudence: Book Two of The Custard Protocol :: Silent Spring
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
It's a very negative and some what depressing book just in the first 10 pages. I decided to purchase a different book for my class
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
looks like 12 % of the reviews work for chemical companies or are just non chalant about the gift of life like the young lady (cashier) who said to me "we all gotta die of something." I wonder if she would be so cavalier in her remarks if she walked thru a park daily and began to notice many dead animals everyday, (not attacked, just dead and suffering), after seeing this daily i picked up several carcasses and took them to the management office and said something is very wrong here. I showed her my feet which walked through the water and park daily, were swollen, red, burning and itchy. Long story short the place is now encircled by red danger tape. They are working on cleaning it up and my dr. and vet are working on detoxing my dog and myself of heavy metals etc. No medication healed my dog or myself until i put waterproof shoes on both of us. Then they healed without medication. This is just my personal experience. But it doesn't take a genius to understand chemicals that are made to kill, will, without descrimination.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
linnea crowther
I am sorry I cannot review Silent Spring as it is a Christmas gift but I have heard it is a wonderful book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kamyla marvi
When Silent Spring was published in 1962, it caused an event of seismic proportions not only within the scientific community, but also within the general population. On the one hand were some agribusinesses and chemical corporations denouncing Rachel Carson as an inadequately trained "spinster" scientist raising a false alarm (an early charge of "fake news"?). On the other hand, government officials (including President Kennedy), scientsits and citizens who had been subjected to frequent area sprayings of DDT, demanded investigations and action. Carson details the effects of carcinogenic pesticides and herbicides on flora and fauna including humans. As the mother of modern-day ecology, she underscores that the pollution of the atmosphere, land or water has a deliterious effect on all ecosystems because each system touches and interacts with the other. Carson unravels the delicate and multiple threads that connect all living creatures from the microscopic to the largest marine, terrestrial and air-borne species. In the last chapter of the book, she urges (and indeed predicts) the use of "biological solutions" for insects that feed on crops and bring disease and sometimes death to humans.

Rachel Carson died of breast cancer in 1964. The ripple effect of this book led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, the Food Safety Inspection Service in the Department of Agriculture, the banning of DDT in 1972, the passage of the Endanged Species Act in 1973 and the rebirth of robust and active evironmental movements that span the planet. At a time when some within the US Government deny climate change and are eager to roll-back environmental protections, Rachel Carson's narrative continues to raise a timeless call to action to protect and preserve the mother of us all, Mother Earth.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
natalie miller moore
“Silent Spring” (1962) by Rachel Carson (1907-1964) was the culmination of the poet scientist’s campaign against indiscriminate use of synthetic biocides to control disease carrying insects and agricultural pests at the expense of the destruction of the natural world and subjecting human beings to neurological damage, malignancy, and death. Carson asked,

“How could intelligent beings seek to control a few unwanted species by a method that contaminated the entire environment and brought the threat of disease and death even to their own kind?”

In the highly influential book, the author eloquently and systematically presented her appeal for clarity, humility, and responsibility in human efforts to control specific pests. Carson encouraged the use of biological measures that exploit the natural weaknesses of harmful species rather than the use of violently poisonous chemicals that eliminate natural checks and balances and expose all plants, animals, and humans to carcinogens and other toxins.

56 years after the original publication of “Silent Spring”, Rachel Carson’s legacy endures in the work of responsible scientists, the commitment of environmental advocates, and the annual celebration of Earth Day.

So, . . . Happy Earth Day!

Although I didn’t plan to finish reading “Silent Spring” on Earth Day, I can’t imagine a better day to do so.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lisa kinsey callaway
"Silent Spring" is probably the single most important book written on environmental protection. As a result of this book and the efforts of the author, the Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act and Americans celebrated the first "Earth Day" in 1970. It is apparent that, as a result of this publication, the synthetic substance of DDT was banned and the raising of public awareness of the inappropriate use of various insecticides and herbicides could damage our fragile eco system. "Silent Spring" compels each generation to reevaluate its relationship to the environment. In addition to the foregoing, the author explains a variety of creative methods for meeting these challenges including the use of bacterial and viral solutions to pest control, conservation through a variety of trees and plants grown in a specific area, and sanitation through the destroying and disposing of diseased trees. Although this book was written over 50 years ago, much of the information and research done is still relevant today. This is a very important and provocative book which I would highly recommend
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
ian wood
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The world in 2013 faces huge environmental problems such air and water pollution, global warming, climate change, sea level rises, storm intensification and declining biomass production in the upper ocean. Using dates as crude estimates only, many of our present environmental problems started during the 1760 to 1860 Industrial Revolution, continued up to the present and promise to be formidable in the future. From 1760 to 1860, the world wallowed in ignorance while congratulating itself about creating prosperity within the most advanced societies. From 1860 to 1960, awareness and understanding of environmental problems continued to rise among scientists without the public understanding and financial support needed to fund the scientists, engineers and others capable of doing something to prevent irreversible damage to the living component of the world. In 1962, Rachel Carson published "Silent Spring," a thoroughly researched and beautifully written book warning about imminent threats to the world's living creatures caused by pollution and the ignorance that drives it. News of the new book traveled like wildfire, primarily through person-to-person conversations. It started an environmental movement that is still alive in 2013. Her book's impact on environmental awareness was similar to the racial problem awareness triggered by "Uncle Tom's Cabin" published by Harriet Beecher Stowe in newspaper serial form in 1851, book form in 1852 and silent movie form in 1927. If environmental ignorance lasted longer than it did and Rachel Carson tried to publish her manuscript in the publishing climate of 2013, she almost certainly would fail. I have explained the reasons for this in some detail in my 2013 the store review of "The Better Angels Of Our Nature" by Steven Pinker.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Carson excellently accuses humans and the chemical industry as the evil-doers. The 1960’s is an age where environmental responsibility is not yet a prime focus; Carson’s book jump-starts this new era. She presents pesticides as a ware overused and made with a lack of creativity. She points to the use of natural ingenuity against pests implementing male insect sterilization, the spread of natural insect diseases, the use of natural insect enemies, and working with repellents and attractants to fight the same process. It is often at human’s own sloth and tendency to convenience that the environment is harmed.
Carson explicates a great reminder in regards to our fragile environment. The most simple way or the most obvious way is not always the most sustainable way to solve an environmental issue. She encourages inventiveness and compassion in caring for the environment. While environmental law has come a long way since the publication of Silent Spring in 1962, one must realize that not everything was solved, and we continue upon the cyclical path that Carson refers to. Many argue that her book is no longer relevant, but on the contrary, it is utterly important to understand so that humans can continue to modify and minimize the impacts they have upon the environment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
My review is for the audio book, read by Kaiulani Lee, the playwright and performer of "A Sense of Wonder" about Rachel Carson's love for the natural world and her fight to defend it. Ms. Lee really brings the text alive with her passionate and skillful reading. The audio book is ~10 hours in length.

Rachel Carson has been called the "Patron Saint of the Environmental Movement." She was a marine biologist and zoologist and her legacy is the still popular book, Silent Spring. Silent Spring alerted the world to the dangers of chemical pesticides and became the genesis of the EPA and the worldwide environmental movement.

I found it very illuminating to read some of the 1 and 2-star reviews to realize that Carson's assertions are still stirring up controversy 50 years after Silent Spring was first published. She is accused of pseudo-science and twisting the facts in her denouncement of DDT as a lethal poison. I'm sure we've learned a lot more about the dangers of indiscriminate use of chemicals over these last 50 years, and a modern day scientist could pick up her book and find many flaws; however there is no doubt that her passionate research and writing have made a huge impact on our lives. She died at the age of 56 soon after the book was published, but had she lived would certainly have continued to write and espouse her belief that we were poisoning our planet.

Part of the lasting appeal of Silent Spring is Carson's poetic writing style. I wished I had read a printed book so that I could dog-ear the pages and highlight some of the beautiful writing. She truly loved the natural world and was passionate about sustaining the balance of every living thing. The text was quite repetitive at times, and could probably be abridged into a more succinct version. In fact, I think there is an abridged audio book available. Nevertheless, whether you read or listen, Silent Spring is an important and intersting book that should be on your "must read" list.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
florence boyd
Deemed as a classic piece of literature that helped initiate the Environmental movement in the United States, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, published in 1962, brings into focus the harmful effects that have manifested within our environment by using chemical pesticides. The chemical insecticide that she pays most attention to is the chemical DDT. Through the lens of deep ecology perspective, Rachel Carson presents people with the idea that the earth and everything that lives within it are interconnected. In addition, throughout various points in her book Carson reinforces the concept that everything in the earth’s atmosphere is interacting. This brings in the acknowledgement of the relationship that society has with nature. By gathering information from experts, Carson puts a lot of weight on science as the source where people will see significance of the destruction that is being caused by chemicals such as DDT and the symbiosis of nature and society.
Carson uses the first three chapters of her book to give information to her audience to be able to understand the different points she makes in chapters that follow chapters one through three. In the first chapter of the book, Carson describes a picture-perfect town located in the United States of America filled with the life of plants and animals. Then as the chapter progresses, she confronts the reader with an unnerving reality of the destruction that man has had on various environment systems of earth using poisonous insecticides. On the last page of the chapter she asks a question that expresses her intended purpose for writing Silent Spring, she asks “What has already silenced the voice of spring in countless towns in America?” (3). From this question Carson starts to unfold the answer within the following chapters in the book.
Chapter two is titled “The Obligation to Endure,” which discusses the positive and negative feedback loops that people must tolerate due to the introduction of poisonous chemicals such as DDT in the environment. In the beginning of the chapter Carson makes an interesting distinction when she questions why people would poison the surface of the earth making it unfit for life. She argues that we shouldn’t be calling the chemicals we use to destroy life and the environment insecticides. Rather they should be called biocides (8). Carson further points out in this chapter that humans are the first ones to hold significant power over altering nature by using aerosol chemical pesticides that people have applied to farms, gardens, forests and homes (7). The two main things to draw from this chapter is the negative and positive feedback loops that have formed due to human impact on the environment. These two feedback loops introduced in this chapter act as a point of reference for people to start understanding societies’ relationship with nature. The positive feedback loop highlighted in this chapter starts with human introduction of continuously adding chemical pesticides. The use of these aerosols removes insects from the environment. But they do not stay in one specific area and the chemicals continuously interrupt various earth systems and causes the death of animals. Negative feedback systems that build off the creation of the positive feedback loop where the plants, animals and humans have the obligation to endure the effects of the use of chemical pesticides within the environment.
Chapter three gives the reader the final key to start to be able to unlock the key points of information that she introduces in future chapters. Carson causes the reader to dip their hands into the world of chemistry by going into a deep explanation of the different chemicals that people have used in their efforts to eradicate different types of insects in the environment. By grouping them into specific groups Carson explains what they are and how people have changed the composition over time. In her explanation she doesn’t just explain the chemical make up of the different pesticides, but also how they are transmitted, contacted or consumed. In this chapter the main thing that she points out is how chemicals are passed through the consumer and further down the food chain.
In following chapters Carson brings both a biological and environmental perspective to express how chemicals have silenced spring. She builds upon the concepts of the first three chapters by placing them into different frameworks. In the first half of the book, Rachel Carson focus is on the environment, the earth’s systems and how they interact with the introduction of chemical pesticides. For example, in chapter four Carson talks about how chemical insecticides have both contaminated surface and ground water. On the earth’s surface, sitting in an open area, this form of pollution starts to act as a mixing bowl and then becomes a laboratory that starts to form new and even more dangerous chemicals. Underground slow-moving ground water acts as a transporter of chemicals through the subsurface and aquifers. This shows that once the groundwater is polluted in one place, it can continue to pollute groundwater over a large area. A biological example that Carson points out in one of the last few chapters of the book is that the earth has natural checks and balances of predator and prey with all the different animals, insects and bacteria that interact with each other. But due to the disruption to this natural system caused using chemical insecticides and herbicides we create an imbalance that changes the natural order. And the insects, weeds and pests that people want to get rid of, are adapting to their new chemical environment and are getting stronger in numbers.
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson is not for the average reader. She does give people basic information in the first three chapters of the book, so they can understand the concepts presented in the following chapters. In the following chapters, the reader needs substantial knowledge of biology and chemistry to fully understand the concepts that Carson puts forth. Much of Carson’s writing is based on information from 1914 to 1962. With the progression of science, some of her points created a basis for further investigation while others have been disproved. Yet, the points that Carson makes allow people to form a frame of mind around the damage that has occurred to the environment due to the use of chemical pesticides.
One thing that personally bothered me through out reading the book was how Carson didn’t fully go into how other parts of nature and non-natural events factored into the growing damage of the environment. I am not well versed in the sciences of biology or chemistry, so there were many things in the book that I had a difficult time understanding. But overall, the parts of the science I understand was extremely interesting.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sally jane brant
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson discusses the effect of introducing pesticides into the environment. Published in 1962, this was the age of creating new chemicals as aftermath of the Second World War. These new chemicals were being released into the environment, but no one was considering the greater impacts these chemicals could cause. Therefore, this book aims to speak to the general population, scientists, law makers, or anyone who would acknowledge this environmental crisis at that time. Carson makes an argument to strongly consider the harm pesticides such as DDT are causing to animals, plants, the environment, and humans. Although Carson does not dislike pesticides, ignorant people should not be allowed to use them. Also, more research must be done about their impact on living organisms and the environment. Even though pesticides are applied in seemingly small amounts, their concentration amplifies throughout the food chain and contaminates the water, air, and soil. Until change is initiated, humans will continue to harm the environment and themselves. Safer, alternative solutions to toxic pesticides exist, but there are little to no efforts to implement and discover them. Overall, Carson aims to acknowledge the public about the danger of pesticides, create change within the application and use of pesticides, initiate research into alternative solutions, and increase concern about how human practices can destroy the environments and ultimately ourselves.
In chapter 1, Carson introduces her book by briefly describing a fantasy town where nature flourished. Everything was in harmony until a blight came and began to kill the nature. Chickens, cattle, sheep, birds, fish, adults, children, and vegetation died; life could not grow anymore because of the people who “silenced the spring”. Although this town doesn’t exist, it could become a reality in America.
In chapter 2, Carson discusses how man has acquired a lot of power to alter the environment. Due to man’s desire to rid a few species, we have assaulted and contaminated the environment with chemicals. Additionally, we have created the death and demise of our own species. We “need” pesticides to control farm production, but the problem may actually be overproduction. The use of DDT has created many problems and insect resurgences which require the need for even stronger chemicals.
Then in chapter 3, insecticides are discussed as two categories: chlorinated hydrocarbons and organic phosphorus insecticides. Chlordane is a chlorinated hydrocarbon which is very toxic which consists of heptachlor. These hydrocarbons can greatly interfere with metabolism by disturbing enzymes in the body. Systemic insecticides are also introduced as insecticides which convert plants or people into toxins.
Chapter 4 discusses the importance of water and its pollution. Water pollution is dangerous because it is unseen and invisible and typically noted through fish death. It is especially harmful because contaminated groundwater damages crops, animals, and humans. One example of this are the national wildlife refuges at Tule Lake and Lower Klamath which contained drainage from agricultural lands. Hundreds of birds died from consuming fish with toxins that accumulated within their bodies.
Additionally, soil is contaminated and affected by insecticides. Chapter 5 mentions the importance of life within soil which is constantly changing. Soil is not heavily studied, but it is important because of its long persistence which can greatly affect plants. One interesting find from this chapter was that soil with high organic matter releases smaller quantities of poison than other soils.
In Chapter 6, Carson discusses how sprays destroy vegetation. Humans will spray many acres of land with intention of killing specific plants. However, chemical sprays are not selective and kill more plants than just the intended weeds. One example of a plant humans wanted to rid was sage. By spraying to kill sage, insects important to agriculture died, negatively impacting the crops. Therefore, there must be a better way to manage unwanted vegetation such as brush control.
Chapter 7 provides further examples of the effects pesticides have on the environment. For example, in 1959 southern Michigan was heavily dusted with pellets of aldrin to control the Japanese beetle. This spraying killed birds, squirrels, pets, contaminated rain, and caused illness among humans. The damage caused was far greater than the initial problem of the beetle. Alternative methods such as a parasitic wasp or bacterial disease would have been more favorable since recovery is a rarity and a poisoned environment is a trap.
Chapter 8 lists specific species that have been affected by pesticides. For example, the robin, warblers, eagle, and American elm have been greatly affected. The American elm was affected by the Dutch elm disease in the 1930s. Spraying against this disease was effective, but it contaminated the soil and earthworms which poisoned the robins. Overall, these examples lead to greater questions like who made the decision to use pesticides and who can choose to create a world without insects?
Chapter 9 provides further examples of fish that have been affected by agricultural crop sprayings and dustings. Specifically, the Miramichi’s salmon were greatly affected by spraying to kill the budworm. At that time, 1 pound of DDT per acre was a “safe” dosage, but there was no evidence to support this statistic. Additionally, a lot of money was being spent on sprays rather than research to study the effects of pesticides and alternative solutions using less dangerous materials.
Mass sprayings of the gypsy moth in the northeast and the fire ant in the south were mentioned in chapter 10. Even when farmers like Mrs. Waller requested to have their land checked for gypsy moths rather than get sprayed, the government was nonnegotiable and sprayed all the land. This spraying ruined Mrs. Waller’s purebred cows, caused crops to be unmarketable, and people began to sue the state. Cows which were only fed milk died—therefore what would the effects on children drinking this milk be?
Continuing this argument, chapter 11 discusses how humans are unaware of all the toxins around us. We are told that they are safe, but we do not actually know the danger of chemicals. When this book was written in the 1960's, most food contained DDT; some breads had 100.9 ppm of DDT! Overall, there was a great need for change as food contamination was not being monitored by the FDA. A large-scale conversion was needed.
In chapter 12, the environmental health problems of chemicals are discussed. It is difficult to understand the concept of chemicals building up in the body and becoming harmful with prolonged use. Therefore, this vague threat of a future disaster may not seem pressing. However, the impact to our bodies are so great that change is required. Chemicals like methoxychlor and triorthocresyl phosphate are known to permanently damage the nervous system.
Chapter 13 discusses the impact of pesticides at the cellular level. Cells constantly transform energy but uncoupling caused by chemicals kills cells. DDT and chlorinated hydrocarbons stop the energy producing cycle. Specifically, when the energy producing cycle is disrupted, eggs cannot complete the process of development. Therefore, reproduction is not possible with infertile eggs and chemicals are known to concentrate within sex organs.
In chapter 14, carcinogens are discussed since chemicals such as arsenic fumes are directly related to skin cancer. When this book was written, the number one cause of death in children was cancer. Due to organic pesticides, carcinogens were entering the environment uncontrolled. Greater efforts must be made to prevent carcinogens from entering the environment and harming human health.
Chemicals are constantly being produced and applied without considering the effects. In chapter 15, Carson argues that humans are trying to alter nature without seeing its innate beauty. Spraying is creating problems worse than insects that humans desire to get rid of. Therefore, we must consider better ways to rid insects and begin research on the harm of insecticides.
In chapter 16, the concept of “survival of the fittest” is applied to insects adapting to new insecticides. Resistance of insecticides creates new organisms and diseases that greatly impact public health. For example, in 1950 chlordane resistant flies were abundant. Overall, Carson pushes advocacy to spray minimally or to limit the capacity of insecticides.
In the last chapter, Carson discusses many alternative biological solutions to pesticides. Through sterilizing insects, using “juvenile hormones”, “gyplure”, ultrasonic sound, microorganism, or bacterial insecticides, there are safer ways to rid insects. By considering the impact on the environment, alternative methods can also be better for human health. Because when humans decided to turn against insects, they turned against the earth as well.
Overall, I thought that this book was very compelling and provided irrefutable evidence about the negative impact of pesticides on the environment. Reading this book in 2018, I felt that this book overemphasized its points by providing too many examples. However, considering its intention was to raise awareness to people in the 1960’s who did not consider or believe the consequences of putting chemicals into the environment, it was very well written and persuasive. Carson did not have many credentials or power to initiate change as a woman without a PhD, however her passion spoke to the hearts of many people. It was inspiring to read how one person could initiate change within a nation. Additionally, Carson addressed points from a scientific, legislative, and ethical approach. Not only did it address scientific evidence, but it also discussed the responsibility of humans to care for future generations and the environment.
Carson’s perspective was different from most people living in the United States in the 1950’s. She had a strong passion to defend nature and protect humans from destroying themselves. Carson did not have a political bias, but rather a philosophical bias towards the natural world and environment. Protecting the environment, restoring balance, initiating change within the chemical industry, and sustaining the earth were her main beliefs. As a scientist, her views opposed her colleagues, but she saw the pressing need to recognize the toxicity and effect of chemicals. Despite a lot of rejection and small chance of success, Carson was able to revolutionize and advance environmentalism in the United States.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kristin heatherly
This book essentially spearheaded the environmental movement in the 1960’s. It is a marvelous wonder that we did not eradicate ourselves in our conceited attempt to chemically control our environment. Because of this book and the concern it fostered the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, which is credited with saving such species as the American alligator, the bald eagle, and the peregrine falcon. It wasn’t the entirety of chemicals she preached against, but merely the casual application of broad spectrum pesticides and herbicides that were quite literally exterminating all life within areas. This book is just as relevant today because even after all the lessons we have learned in the last century we continue to find new ways to destroy the environment around us.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
If Edward Abbey was the godfather of the modern environmental movement, then Rachel Carson was the godmother. When she penned Silent Spring, first published in 1962, Carson probably had no idea that it would be one of the most influential books of the modern environmental movement. A smart, savvy scientist, Carson wrote the seminal book on what not to do in caring for the planet and in the process was the impetus for the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Before the EPA, before the Kyoto Protocol, before the U.N. Millennium Goals there was Rachel Carson, a shy, research-oriented scientist with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries (which would later become the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) who had started seeing patterns where none existed before, patterns of increased incidences of cancer, infertility, mutations and blight. The common denominator, according to Carson was pesticides. Upon publication in 1962, Silent Spring started a s*%t storm of unprecedented proportions by bringing the notion of unsafe pesticides home to the American public, a public who for years had stalwartly believed that such chemicals were safe because that’s what the chemical companies had told them. The central theme of the book is that pesticides, chemical substances used to kill insects that though their very existence reduce agriculture production, were more correctly labeled as biocides. A biocide is a poisonous substance that destroys life. Carson found evidence everywhere that the insect killing chemicals were also poisoning other things like the soil, the water, the air, and the fish and fowl that lived in them as evidenced by massive bird kill-offs in various areas that pesticides had been sprayed. The book was met with ridicule by the chemical companies themselves which means that there was great truth in the research, and from the agriculture industry which had gotten used to spraying the heck out of everything as a way to reduce pests and increase profits which, by the way, only works in the short term. Eventually, the pests come back with a vengeance. Probably the single greatest triumph of Silent Spring was its success in getting the pesticide DDT banned, a chemical so toxic and pervasive in the environment that its effects still persist today. Carson didn’t advocate banning all pesticides, but wanted them to be fully researched before use, and even then advocated using them sparingly and only when necessary and with good judgment. At 53 years old, Silent Spring is not going to teach you something you don’t already know about chemicals in the environment -- that is, if you’ve been paying attention -- but it will help you refocus the argument and decide what is important: lower cost, lower quality food, or a pesticide free meal.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kara lehman
This book is probably one of the more important ever written, and the thought that Rachel Carson was dying of breast cancer while writing it makes it even more powerful... and poignant. But what amazed me most about this book is how little progress we've made in stopping the chemical / pesticide (and now GMO) industry from poisoning us and our environment for profit in the decades since it was written. The book Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA (2015) about how corrupt the EPA is regarding pesticides sheds some really horrifying light on the 'why' of that.

In many ways Silent Spring is (unfortunately) entirely applicable today. Of course, more recent diabolical inventions like GMOs and Roundup Ready crops didn't exist back then, but a lot of the same chemicals and effects did. For instance, now that Roundup (which causes cancer, birth defects, DNA damage, disrupts hormones, and harms gut bacteria, among other harms) is losing effectiveness against weeds, the toxic poison industry is about to start using 2,4-D (which is an even more potent chemical, and was a component of Agent Orange). Carson talks about 2,4-D in the book, as well as many other really bad pesticides (some of which are still in use today).

Another example is endocrine disrupting chemicals. These (like BPA, phthalates, and many pesticides including Roundup) started getting a lot of press in the past few years. They disrupt hormonal systems, for instance by mimicking estrogen. But I hadn't heard of them before that. But guess what, Rachel Carson wrote about them in Silent Spring 50 years ago. These are two specific examples, but the bigger lessons about harmful cancer-causing toxic chemicals and their disruption of ecological balances (which I'll get to a bit later) are just as important today as decades ago.

Before reading it, I had always heard Silent Spring mentioned only in the same breath as 'stopping DDT.' But now I wonder if people who say that have actually read it, for one thing because DDT is only one topic of the book, but also because DDT had already lost effectiveness against 'pest' insects by the time she was writing the book, and that's one of the things she comments on-- insect 'pests' quickly developed resistance to a poison like DDT, and the replacement poisons (which were always worse) were being sprayed all over everything and killing (for instance) birds very effectively (not to mention causing cancer in humans).

This is the idea of the 'chemical treadmill,' where poisons never actually solve the problem and then get more and more toxic to keep up with 'pest' insects continually developing resistance to each one.

But it's very important to understand the history of DDT and it's 'ban' because there's a noxious claim that fans of pesticides throw around that says "Rachel Carson got DDT banned, therefore millions of people died of malaria." First, DDT use became massive during WWII and the years after. It was used on EVERYTHING and was claimed to be 'good for you.' But by the mid-1950s it was pretty obvious that it was causing neurological problems in humans.

Yes, the bird eggshells are bad, but DDT poisoning causes Polio in humans. Like 'the flu,' there are other causes of Poliomyelitis than a virus. In fact, you could consider the possibility that the more likely cause was DDT poisoning, since the Polio 'epidemic' exploded along with DDT use, and receded as DDT was phased out. The surges in Polio 'coincidentally' happened in the summer after the mass farmer sprayings of DDT.

So use of DDT began to be reduced in the mid-1950s in the US, both because of the polio impacts on humans and the development of resistance in insects. Rachel Carson started writing her book in the late 1950s, after DDT use had already gone down and other chemicals had taken its place. Her book was published in 1962. DDT wasn't 'banned' in the US until the mid 1970s (20 years after heavy DDT use was phased out), so it's kind of a stretch to say it was banned because of Silent Spring.

As an interesting side note, as you will read about in Poison Spring, small amounts of DDT and its close relatives actually continued to be used as 'inactive ingredients' in some pesticides in the US into the 1980s (at least). A sick loophole of the pesticide industry is that only the 'active ingredients' are 'regulated' at all... At any rate, some countries still use DDT like India which coincidentally (?) has a growing Polio problem. So just because it was 'banned' in the US doesn't mean it was banned anywhere else in the world. If fact, when a toxic chemical falls out of favor in the US, the chemical companies generally keep manufacturing it here but start pushing / selling it in poorer countries.

I just wanted to provide some context for this, because if DDT was 'banned' it was only because it had already lost effectiveness (and therefore profitability for the chemical companies). That's how things work in the US-- leaded gas, PCBs, DDT, Roundup... this sad story has repeated many times in this country. Silent Spring covers DDT and some of the problems it caused (but not so much the human effects like Polio), but in the past-tense. By that point other poisons were mainly in use and she primarily covers poisons that replaced it, and the overall concept of mass poisonings and cancer-causing chemicals.

She makes the case that the whole concept of poisoning an entire environment to kill a single pest in that environment never works anyway- often the next year the pest comes backs in a worse infestation because the poison killed all the beneficial insects that kept the pests more or less in check-- and beneficial insects often reproduce more slowly than the pests, leaving a void for the pests to thrive in.

An example (mine, not in the book) is the bacteria in your gut (which are a huge part of your immune system, psychological health, etc). Normally the vast majority of bacteria in your gut are either beneficial or benign, and they keep the bad stuff in check. But if you take antibiotics or eat food contaminated with Roundup, which kill both good and bad bacteria, then you can set up a 'blank slate' where the checks and balances are gone and bad stuff can take over.

The concept of ecosystems and the balance that exists in them (and which can be disrupted by the blanket pesticide poisonings) is a big part of the book-- and the fact that all the inhabitants of an ecosystem (insects, plants, birds, amphibians, humans...) are interconnected and the effects of toxic poisons reach far beyond the targeted 'pest.'

This is a long way to say the book is about much more than DDT... It's about ecosystems and balance... it's about cancer (and the technical details of how pesticides cause it)... and it exposes a chemical industry run amok poisoning us for profit (even 50 years ago that was the case, which also came as a disheartening shock to me that things haven't gotten any better).

The chemical industry has a golden get out jail free card-- 1) because cancer and birth defects often take decades to manifest, and 2) because it's hard to pinpoint a specific chemical to the wide range of cancers and chronic diseases it can cause. And when the average American is exposed to hundreds of different toxic chemicals every day (which, by the way, often work synergistically to cause even more harm in 'chemical cocktails'), it becomes even more difficult to match harm to cause. In fact, the more toxic chemicals they pump out into our environment and lives, the more protected they are from ever being held accountable for the harm they cause-- all while taking billions to the bank every year. Poison for profit... The EPA is no use, as it always allows new poisons and toxic chemicals despite the harm they cause.

What we need is the precautionary principle, where ONLY if a chemical is proved by rigorous long-term multi-generational independent testing to not cause harm, can it be produced or sold. But let's face it, that would pretty much put the toxic chemical industry out of business, and since they make a mountain of money with our current system, and buy legislators and regulators to further their agenda, it will be hard to ever change things from the top-down....... But, there is hope if people wake up and stop buying toxic chemicals and foods containing toxic poisons!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
kelly chaplin
The book itself was great, however, mine came with massive publishing errors. My copy of Silent Spring is missing chapter 10 and has chapters 11 and 12 printed twice. Because of this, I missed out on reading chapter 10 of the book and was very confused after finishing the first chapters 11 and 12. I expected better from the store.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Silent Spring is a classic, a powerful broadside against synthetic pesticides. Now, more than fifty years old, the book still packs a solid roundhouse punch. With one book, one woman enlightened millions and spurred a loud outcry. One woman inspired big changes. Many of the pesticides she slammed have been banned or highly restricted.

Following World War II, Americans had big heads. We had won the war, invented a terrible new weapon, our economy was booming, and life was great! We succeeded at whatever we tried. We were giddy with euphoria. Then, Rachel Carson rolled a hand grenade into our dining rooms. Suddenly, Sunday dinners at grandma’s looked far less delicious. What were we eating? Would it kill us?

During the war, researchers working on chemical warfare agents discovered substances that were highly toxic to insects. After the war, greedy minds became fascinated by these super-poisons, and visions of big profits danced in their heads. Synthetic pesticides were toxic to morals, ethics, and foresight. And so, a new industry was born, and the production of pesticides increased five-fold between 1947 and 1960.

To control the elm bark beetles that caused Dutch elm disease, two to five pounds of DDT were sprayed on elm trees. This killed the natural predators of the beetles, as well as 90 species of birds, and assorted mammals. Worms ate the poison leaves, and the robins that ate the poison worms quit reproducing. Elms kept dying. More elms survived in places not sprayed.

To control gypsy moths, a million acres a year were sprayed with DDT. Sprayers were paid by the gallon, not the acre, so some places were sprayed multiple times. Bees died. Cows ate DDT grass and produced DDT milk that was consumed by DDT humans. Regulators did not block the sale of poison milk. At the end of the expensive project, the gypsy moths returned.

To control fire ants, millions of acres were sprayed with two new poisons: dieldrin and heptachlor, which were far more toxic than DDT. Newborn calves died after their first drink of milk. Piglets were born dead. Opossums, armadillos, raccoons, quail, songbirds, turkeys, livestock, poultry, and pets died. In the end, there were more ants in Florida than before.

We know little about what these toxins do to the complex microorganisms in healthy topsoil. Many of them interfere with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which provide an essential nutrient for all living things. Some organisms are wiped out, leading to explosions of other organisms. The chemicals persist in the soil for years, and build up with each new application. Soil beneath an apple tree can contain 113 pounds (51 kg) of DDT. Old-fashioned arsenic pesticides keep the soil toxic forever.

Yes, it’s a bummer that all spawning salmon died when New Brunswick’s Miramichi River got sprayed with DDT, while the terrible spruce budworms laughed at the embarrassed entomologists. When Ontario sprayed to kill blackflies, they wiped out blackfly predators, enabling the fly population to explode 17-fold. The same thing happened in Florida, where large areas in coastal regions are now uninhabitable because of hordes of pesticide-resistant mosquitoes.

“Resistant” is a keyword in this comedy of errors. Big Mama Nature routinely produces organisms that are resistant to insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics, and antivirals. We can throw one poison after another at life, and life will become resistant to it. Winning the war on life is impossible. Resistance can develop in as little as two months. The average time is three years. Insects are reproductive champions, and can promptly refill the land with resistant offspring. The breeding process in humans is much slower, so it will take us thousands of years to become resistant to pesticides.

Silent Spring delivered two powerful messages. It alerted us to the nightmare world of pesticides. It also turned big floodlights on the incredible incompetence of our experts and regulators. In 1960, almost everyone was blissfully ignorant about the toxic chemicals in their lives. In those days, most folks still trusted their elected officials. They trusted the experts who told them that DDT was harmless, and chlordane was a wonder of scientific genius. Today, for good reason, we automatically doubt any statements made by leaders or experts because they, too often, have little or no relationship to the full truth.

Carson did not believe that the use of pesticides should be banned entirely, but she did recommend that we shift toward less toxic alternatives, like pyrethins and Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Not surprisingly, malarial mosquitos are becoming resistant to bed nets treated with pyrethin-based insecticides, and many crop pests are now resistant to Bt.

She was fascinated by research in sterilizing male bugs, so that female bugs would not be able to tell the studs from the duds. Chemo-sterilants were used to render millions of houseflies impotent. Male gypsy moths found their lovers via sexy scents. Researchers sprayed this scent all over the place, and were delighted to observe the flying lads falling deeply in love with wood chips that smelled like hot babes. Ultrasonic sounds could be used to kill blowflies, mealworms, and yellow fever mosquitoes.

About half of the insects called pests are immigrants from foreign lands. Here, they were not controlled by their natural predators from the old country. Carson recommended importing the predators and parasites of notorious immigrant pests. Moving organisms from one region to another is a mistake that has often led to unintended disasters, like the rabbits of Australia, the potatoes of Ireland, smallpox, and so on. She thought that it was OK for humans to try to sit in the ecosystem’s driver’s seat.

Carson was fighting breast cancer as she finished her book, and she died in 1964, two years after it was published. If she had lived longer, I think she would have recognized the serious shortcomings of the anthropocentric worldview of her era. Living like the masters of the planet has been a reliable recipe for countless catastrophes, and it’s the core reason why seven billion people are standing on very thin ice today.

Ecological thinking is the antidote. Forget control — adapt! Carson was intrigued by the brilliant rascal Paul Shepard, who could have exorcised her anthropocentric demons, had she lived longer. She quoted Shepard, who summed it up nicely: “Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Why would want to live in a world which is just not quite fatal?”
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The 1962 release of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is often identified as the beginning of the “modern” environmental movement. Over 50 years later, Carson’s specific case studies may not be as relevant, but her overarching arguments are just as poignant as when they were first published. Throughout the text, Carson explores modern chemical pest controls, their impact on earth’s environment and organisms, including humans, and makes a strong case for a shift in focus to biological pest control strategies.
On the whole, I find Silent Spring to be an accessible read with important messages, backed up with applicable and convincing real-world examples. The explanation of synthetic chemicals and their complicated relationships with earth systems is complex and chemistry-heavy. Carson does a good job finding a balance between explaining the basics necessary to understand the nature of the chemicals and systems, without overwhelming or alienating the reader with too many details or complicated explanations. This is enforced especially with her use of metaphor, which allows readers to picture minute chemical reactions in a more applicable, universally understood event—like a car’s engine.
Carson also did a fantastic job of making both a scientific and moral point to each of her arguments. Not only did she offer evidence for the scientific and health consequences of these chemicals being pervasive in our world, but she took the extra leap and made the moral connection. Scientific facts and evidence can often seem remote and easy to dismiss, but she made it clear morally why the reader should care about the scientific evidence being presented. Furthermore, for each point she made, Carson provided the reader with multiple real-world case studies. While some may be outdated for a contemporary reader, they are crucial in enforcing the credibility of the points she makes.
At the end of the day, while some examples may be decades old at this point, Silent Spring is dealing at its core with the issue of chemical pest controls, which has in no way been solved completely. There is still a booming industry centered around chemical pest control, and Carson’s overall points for change are just as poignant today. We need to increase funding and research on the ecological and human health effects of the ever-expanding list of chemicals we are exposed to in modern society, and work towards better education of those using the chemicals. First and foremost, however, as Carson argues, we need to turn our focus towards biological controls.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tiffany gillig
This informative book sounds as though it were just written in so many ways. I truly wish that it would enjoy a wide resurgence among the public, as it is very readable and vastly informative. The general public of today seems to have lost its curiosity and love of our beautiful natural world in favor of making a buck and voraciously exploiting our limited resources. We ignore our destructive bent at our own peril.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jason terk
This is not the most exciting book in the world. I'm not even done reading it yet and I'm already planning on burning it when I'm done, but the book is very informative.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This book is an early environmental movement classic, in which Rachel Carson exposes the dangers of thoughtless application of pesticides and herbicides. Given it's relatively early date, the book is quite comprehensive, authoritatively addressing the unwanted killing of animals not targeted for destruction, bio-accumulation, development of resistance, and human cancers caused by incidental or indirect exposure, among many other issues. The book is elucidating and genuinely frightening - if a little maudlin at points. For most modern environmental readers, however, the book will likely be of only historical interest. Silent Spring is thorough and well-reasoned, but its message has been delivered thousands of times since this book's publication. Many modern environmental readers will, thus, have encountered much, if not all, of this material many times before. Carson is a good writer, though, with a good story, and it's important (in my opinion) to know the genesis of important ideas. As such, Silent Spring is worth a nerve-wracking read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sarah korona
The author lists her sources on 55 pages. It is up to the reader to determine if her conclusions, based on those sources, are correct. Further, what action is taken as a result of her book (such as banning DDT) is the responsibility of the reader(s), not the author. If the book is flawed in its conclusions, then the reader(s) bear the responsibility for specifically pointing out why, citing the inconsistency between the information in the relevant sources and the conclusions drawn therefrom.
Her book may (and surely does) have disturbing conclusions. In each review posted, it is up to each reviewer to meet the standards I have noted, and to demonstrate the same degree of research that went into the book. See if you can find such in the reviews posted.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
There was a hair sticking out of the pages of this book. That is disgusting.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
In Silent Spring, Rachel Carson writes against the US’s tendency to increasingly work against nature and not with nature. She argues that the US, and consequently modern farming at large, has been engineering solutions to nature that are actually self-defeating, costly, and polluting. Instead of introducing large amounts of chemicals, Carson encourages people to look to nature for natural solutions. Carson gives examples of nature’s complexities and how society’s “simple” solutions are causing large issues. The book is aimed at changing the mindset that America uses to approach environmental issues. Carson fills the book with many examples of how we can come along side nature to achieve our goals of high yield food production, green front lawns, and the reduction of insects that carry infectious diseases. Carson does not hold back and provides example after example of how corporate greed, governmental bureaucracy, and blind faith in chemistry has brought about the brutal death of wildlife and unnecessary diseases to humans.
In Chapter One, A fable for Tomorrow, Carson talks idyllically about a town that is beautiful, productive, and teeming with wildlife and healthy residents. Then a terrible shift occurs and the various tragedies befall the community. The worst part about all of the issues that the community is facing is that the people had done it to themselves. The people had poisoned their environment and families. In chapter two, The Obligation to Endure, Carson talks about the timescale of evolution. There has been a reversal, where initially life was molded by the physical environment, but since humans entered the world stage humans have molded the physical environment at unprecedented scale. The environment has produced complex relationships courtesy of evolution over a time period of hundreds of millions of years. The rate of new chemicals leaving laboratories around the world and quickly being applied to the environment in large quantities is too fast for evolution to answer and present resilient organisms. We are also pushing populations in specific genetic directions, by applying a selective pressure to organisms that can survive the latest chemical. Carson asks are the changes we are having on the environment worth it. Will the future historian talk about our distorted sense of proportion? Is it worth it to accidentally kill the ground birds for that season’s corn harvest? The public needs to be a part of these decisions and fully informed, because the Earth is a global resource.
In chapter three, Elixirs of Death, Carson grabs the reader’s attention when she talks about the unprecedented saturation of human life with synthetic chemicals. After the Second World War humans began applying industrially produced chemicals. Now humans cannot escape these chemicals and Carson describes a few of them. She talks about the Arsenic, an inorganic chemical and widely known toxin. She also talks about the boom of Organic chemicals such as chlorinated hydrocarbons, such as DDT. She covers many more and how it is difficult to predict the effect of these chemicals as they react with other chemicals in the environment to create new combinations and forms harder to detect. In chapter four, Surface Waters and Underground Seas, Carson talks about the contamination of the world’s fresh water. Two major problems have arisen. One is that water purification practices do not remove all of the chemicals. Two is that organisms living in water and eating aquatic life (including humans) are accumulating much larger amount of toxins than initially expected. She tells the story of trying to reduce the gnat population on Clear Lake in California, and how the wild life was consequently decimated.
In Chapter five, Realms of the Soil, Carson talks about the unsung heroes of fungi and bacteria deep within the soils. Sadly our pesticides and herbicides are killing these vital microbes. In addition the chemicals sprayed over the soil are building up and accumulating, In Chapter six, Earth’s Green Mantle, Carson talks about the how humans are killing various plants, with poor justification. For example, she talks about the roadsides in Maine and how the absence of flowers was threatening tourism. Interestingly the spraying on the roadsides could have been avoided if dense shrubs were grown to ensure that trees would not obstruct driver’s view. Carson explains that using nature can be more effect and beneficial than using chemicals.
In Chapter seven, Needless Havoc, Carson presents endless examples of how chemicals were ineffective and in many cases had more effective alternatives, but because of politics and corporate greed ignorance persisted. The consequence was the demise of so much wildlife, and in most cases the inability to achieve the intended goal. One example, when the Dutch Elms disease was plaguing America, most places turned to a chemical that coated the trees in a thick film of poison. New York State took an alternative approach that was more effective and much less damage, yet their method was not widely adopted, why? It is here that Carson asks who has the right to make the decision to use such chemicals at the expense of losing natural beauty. In Chapter eight, And No Birds Sing, Carson illustrates why there are more silent springs. The uses of chemicals are causing the violent death of animals everywhere. One observer notices dirt in the mouth of an animal that most likely was biting at the ground when writhing in pain. The Audubon society of Alabama was one of the first to notice the extreme drop off of bird life and begin demanding answers. In chapter nine, Rivers of Death, Carson talks about the negative impact of spraying chemicals like DDT are having on river wildlife. She outlines extreme examples of 80% of fauna and sport fish. One important example is how Salmon are rapidly decreasing in numbers because they cannot complete their life cycles. In Chapter ten, Indiscriminately from the Skies, Carson talks about spraying chemicals by airplane. This new feat enabled by technology has caused broad application of chemicals with little caution. People in communities across America became enraged as the chemicals began literally raining down on their communities and killing their household pets.
In chapter eleven, Beyond the Dreams of Borgias, Carson talks about the infiltration of chemicals for suburban landscaping. How most of the public is blind to the danger of the chemicals because of slick marketing and packaging. She insists that we need to turn to more natural methods and less toxic chemicals to be sustainable. In chapter twelve, The Human Price, Carson talks about how human health is suffering. Interestingly the slow decline of human health, the chapter talks about how fast diseases consume more attention, buy that the gradual impact of many chemicals stirs up less action. She gives an example of DDT affecting the nervous system. In Chapter thirteen, Through a Narrow window, Carson takes a close look within the human cell and how chemicals are disrupting vital processes within. Synthetic chemicals are impacting those intricate processes and scientists are just beginning to notice the severity of the situation.
In Chapter fourteen, One in Every Four, Carson discusses carcinogens. One of the first pesticides to be linked to cancer was Arsenic. There are various examples of linking chemicals to cancer. Carcinogens require a new way of thinking about preventative control, because of the latency period. Many different leaders in cancer research and awareness were named such as Albert Levan and John J. Biesele from Sloan-Kettering and Dr. Hueper. In Chapter fifteen, Nature Fights Back, Carson describes the most effective pest control as that which is enacted by nature. Often humans try to use chemicals killing insects to rid their field of an annoying pest, but the effect is that all insects, good and bad, are killed and then there is an environment with very little competition and soon a new insect takes over. The chapter is about the wild ride that comes after humans change the balance of species present in an environment.
In chapter sixteen, The Rumblings of an Avalanche, Carson talks about how human pesticide use is creating stronger pests. Microevolution is being accelerated and each year only the strong are surviving. This is presenting farmers with an ever increasing problem and threat to their lively hood. Many examples are given. One striking example is when flies in the Tennessee Valley developed resistance in as little as two months. In Chapter seventeen, The Other Road, Carson describes society’s future as that of two paths at a fork. One oath is that of sustainability, where new more scientifically informed solutions are implemented. The other path is that which would result in dire consequences, be unsustainable, and ineffective. Carson ends with an example of a forward thinking solution where infertile screw worms were spread and successfully reduced livestock loss on a large scale with little negative environmental impact. Other alternative methods given are the use of bacterial insecticides, viruses, and protozoa. The book ends with a powerful statement: the control of nature is a phrase conceived in arrogance.
Carson’s informative book is historically. Published in 1962, the book ushered in a new awareness and brought environmental protection into the spotlight. The book was aimed at the general public, and those keen to advocating for issues. She writes in a way that ignites anger and frustration because she gives countless examples and describes how an alternative action could have prevented so much trouble. The book is wonderfully written to break down human superiority and replace it with cautious humbleness. Biology is complicated, and solutions must be well thought out especially when carried out on a large scale. Her message is clear, the general public will be effected by policy and science so they should be informed and vocal about their safety.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Unlike its critics, I found "Silent Spring" to be fueled by a strong moral imperative and reasonably argued. Although it was published 50 years ago, it still packs a punch. It may be best understood as a historical document, a product of its time and an early shot in the battle to protect our environment.

In "Silent Spring," Carson revealed the widespread, indiscriminate use of DDT and other pesticides and herbicides. She documented how they were having disastrous impacts far beyond the goal of ridding certain crops or areas of particular insects. Massive bird, fish and wildlife kills followed aerial spraying of DDT, Dieldrin, Chlordane and other chemicals. Carson showed that whole ecosystems were being disrupted and in some cases destroyed by the chemical onslaught. She believed that, given all the collateral damage they caused, pesticides should be called "biocides."

Despite her carefully argued thesis, Carson did not advocate banning DDT or other biocides (and she's certainly not to blame for malaria deaths in present day Africa). What she did do is call for more research into their effects on plant, animal and human life and for wiser, more focused use of them. She concluded, correctly, that intensive use of biocides bred resistance in the pests they were meant to kill. Because they were of only short-term value, stronger and more extensive chemicals - a boon to manufacturers - would continually be required. She described the carcinogenic properties of many biocides and was especially concerned by their potential to alter the genetics of future generations of life forms exposed to them.

Carson sought solutions. She detailed alternative, natural means of pest control. These included the importation of natural predators, targeted insect sterilizations and limited, non-aerosol forms of chemical delivery. She cited examples of successful eradication campaigns.

Far from the radical ramblings of a "communist," "amateur" or (I love this one) "spinster," - all labels lobbed at Carson by her critics - "Silent Spring" was a focused and informed wake-up call. I'm grateful Carson investigated the chemical threat and paved the way toward greater environmental consciousness. I'm also glad I finally got around to reading this book. It really is a classic.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
himabindu killi
Silent Spring was written by Rachel Carson in 1962 as an attempt to bring the issue of human environmental degradation to public attention. She gives evidence for the negative impacts that humans have had on the environment and on their own health as well. Her main argument addresses the issue of the use of pesticides and herbicides, what she calls “biocides,” and the negative effects they have on both humans and the environment.
Carson begins the book with a chapter that sounds like something out of a story book. This chapter titled “A Fable for Tomorrow” paints a picture of a peaceful country setting that has been silenced. The natural sounds have disappeared and local people are getting sick and dying. This once peaceful scene has become a picture of environmental disaster. The question Carson asks is why disaster has befallen this fictional paradise.
The reason Carson gives for this fictional yet realistic scenario has to do with human impact on their surrounding environment. The use of pesticides and herbicides for pest control and agriculture is one example of how humans have had a negative effect of the environment. Carson explains how chemicals such as DDT can have devastating effects on humans and the environment.
Most chapters in this book look at how chemicals such as DDT, parathion as well as others can have effects on wildlife. Carson does a good job in explaining the process in which these pesticides and herbicides enter the biosphere. She explains how often times the runoff from fields carries the chemicals into ditches and streams which then distributes the toxins to larger rivers and lakes. In this process animals and fish are exposed to these chemicals and are either killed or genetically altered which then causes a disturbance in the biosphere and ultimately altering the entire ecosystem.
These toxins also accumulate in the soils which then enter the food chain through plant roots. Everything in that ecosystem is then effected by these chemicals. This can endanger whole species in regions where these chemicals are used since many of these chemicals render some species infertile. Carson also explains how oftentimes these chemicals kill off plants that might be an annoyance to farmers but are a vital link in the food chain for creatures living in the ecosystem. This can lead to dire situations for species farther up the food chain as well potentially resulting in the collapse of the entire ecosystem.
Carson also describes how humans are affected by the use of toxic chemicals. She explains that through exposure to DDT and the consumption of plants and animals that have been exposed to chemicals such as DDT. DDT itself is a major cause of cancer and has other harmful effects on humans. Exposure to large amounts of these chemicals can cause instant death. Carson gives examples of how farmers and children have been known to become very sick after being exposed to chemicals such as DDT and parathion and die soon after.
This book does a great job raising awareness to the dangers of using pesticides and herbicides for farming and pest control. It clearly explains why Carson believes many of the chemicals used for agricultural purposes in the 60s should be banned. This book eventually led to the ban on DDT use in the United States as well as in many other countries of the world.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
anna malone
Silent Spring is a very well written book, full of interesting stories and examples. It’s not the fastest read, but it was still fairly enjoyable and very informative. At the time of its publishing, it made information known primarily by scientists available to the common person, in a way that was both easily understandable and interesting. Because Silent Spring was so pivotal in the environmental movement, it is important to read. By reading this book, one can be informed on what information was available to the public at this time, and how it was presented. This book demonstrates what issues were prevalent at the time it was written, as compared to the issues that are more prevalent now. Many other reviews I read complained that Silent Spring is outdated. To some extent, this is true- the book was published in 1962, and much has changed in the world since then. However, although the specific issues are different, there is still much to learn from reading it, and many of the same general themes are still present today. For example, today DDT is banned in many countries. But it still is important that we are aware of the impacts that it once caused, and why we no longer use it. When new chemicals are suggested for weed or pest control, we will know the threats of spraying them. It is still true that it is important not to kill the natural predators of pests, and it is still true that many chemicals are dangerous to animals and humans.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
bart smith
Because all of the quotes I've read from Silent Spring have been emotional appeals, I was worried the book would be all poetic descriptions, poorly grounded in science. Instead I found that, as the introduction claimed, Rachel Carson not only had a "lyrical, poetic voice" but also offered sound "scientific expertise" and an impressive "synthesis of wide-ranging material".
The introduction really helped place the book for me, in a period before environmentalism; after the cold war, when unpatriotic suggestions that we couldn't control nature were frowned upon; and during a time when radiation was a recently recognized danger. Reading through the book without the introduction, Carson's repetitive comparisons of chemical sprays to radiation might have become annoying. However, as the introduction pointed out, this was a rather clever move on her part given public consciousness of radiation as a real danger. The afterward also did a really good job of placing the book in relation to the following environmental movement and current ecological concerns. If you're going to read Silent Spring, I would strongly recommend the 40th anniversary edition for these nice contextual additions.

As anticipated, the writing was often very beautiful. Despite my half-dozen or so biology classes, I've never found the inner workings of the cell half as beautiful as I did reading Rachel Carson's descriptions. At other times, her writing did become over the top with references to "the chemical death rain", but her descriptions of the results of these chemicals made the hyperbole seem warranted. In fact, finishing this book I actually felt a profound sense of relief that we don't live in a world without birds, because of the damages these chemicals caused.

My only complaint with this read was that it quickly became repetitive. Although Rachel Carson's point was novel at the time and people may have required more convincing, I was a convert pretty early on. In part because of the repetitiveness, I found the book informative but never really engaging. With a really great book, there's always that point where you've really gotten into it and don't want to put it down, except maybe to sleep...if you absolutely have to. With this read, I just never got to that point. Instead I felt like I had to force myself back into it whenever I took a break. Despite not getting really sucked in, this was an interesting and informative read which I think provides a great introduction for anyone interested in the history of the environmentalist movement.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"The obligation to endure gives us the right to know". Those words lingered in my mind even after finishing the entire book. Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring' is written with a mission - to kindle the light of environmentalism, to direct the attention of the political world towards treating environment as a fragile support system we are part of and dependent upon. The book was written in during postwar American Era when science was god and science was male. Till the arrival of the book, there were several articles, papers and studies related to the effects of chemicals on the natural world but not a single book that unified them all under one theme and connected them with a common thread. Rarely was such an effort attempted before. It is not a book based on conjectures and emotions but on the contemporary research.

The book is divided into seventeen chapters along with an elaborate list of principal sources used in writing the book. The first chapter is very short, titled "A fable for tomorrow" where the author starts with a surreal surrounding and gradually moves towards a horrifying scenario full of disasters related to indiscriminate use of chemicals. In the second chapter "The Obligation to Endure", author makes the argument about why people should me made aware of all the known and unknown dangers of the chemicals they are subjected to. The third chapter "The Elixirs of Death" lists various "chlorinated hydrocarbons" and "organic phosphorous insecticides". In fourth, fifth and sixth chapter, the author describes the effects of contaminants on water, soil and wildlife. Seventh chapter onwards the books transitions towards the "Needless Havoc" which we have created for ourselves. In these chapters the author takes us through various case studies exemplifying the destruction of the terrestrial and aquatic biota.

The twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of the book introduce the readers to the new philosophy of environmentalism and the ill-effects of ignoring the premonitions. In these chapters the author focuses on the price humans have started to pay. She discusses the change in molecular and genetic levels. The book introduces the reader to the carcinogens we have been producing in the name of manufacturing "insecticides" and "pesticides". In the last three chapters the author writes about how nature (specially insects) is constantly adapting to our chemical warfare and how this is getting transformed into a guerrilla warfare. She talks about various factors whose effects are understudied. In the last chapter "The Other Road", the author provides some alternatives to the heavy barrage of chemicals. The book starts that with a gloomy, eerie tone ends with a confident and hopeful note. As Linda puts it, ""This is a book to relish: not for the dark side of human nature, but for the promise of life's possibility"
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
st erika
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring is an excellent book. Although Carson published the book over 30 years ago, its message about the dangers of pesticides and man's attempts to control nature are true today. Clearly an environmentalist, Carson presents a balanced picture of how pesticides contaminate our water, atmosphere, and food. For example, she examines how DDT used to control worms, ants, and grubs ultimately kills birds and other mammals and enters our streams and lakes from runoff and kills fish. She examines the history of Clear Lake, California, where scientists used a pesticide to destroy a small gnat that annoyed fishermen. The pesticide was later found in birds, fish and larger predators. Scientists discovered that initial small doses of the insecticide increases as it is consumed along the food chain and that as waters are contaminated with pesticides, there is a danger that cancer-producing substances are being introduced, too.
While Carson accepts some limited pesticide use, she fully supports biological solutions which she feels can be used to control unwanted insect and plant populations without compromising our health. For example, she points out that in California, scientists brought in two species of beetle to control the unwanted Klamath weed. She uses our fight against the Japanese beetle as another support for biological solutions to unwanted insects. In the East, scientists used an imported parasitic wasp and the milky spore disease to wipe out the Japanese beetle. In Michigan and Illinois, scientists dusted with aldrin and dieldrin to control the beetle. The pesticides only endangered birds, rabbits, muskrats, fish and people and did not solve the Japanese beetle problem. Carson notes that insects are becoming resistant to pesticides and that nature, not man, is the best control of unwanted pests.
While her book was attacked and discredited by the pesticide industry, her findings have been confirmed and today environmental issues are a major national concern. The book is easy to read and contains excellent examples and explanations of the interrelationships in nature. Anyone who is interested in the environment should read this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nikita decruy
"Silent Spring" by Rachael Carson

There can be little doubt that Rachael Carson's "Silent Spring", first published in 1962, is either THE most important and valuable book, or one of the top three, published during the twentieth century. It literally changed the World. That it is the work of a relative "nobody" will not surprise any student of History because people of fame, power and money are rarely sources of Truth.
I first read "Silent Spring" as a teen in 1968, a time when it was still largely being condemned by the big chemical companies and not-so-tacitly by government "experts". I remember what the land and air and rivers looked and smelled like then. Reading it again now nearly half a century later is an eerie and unnerving experience. It is absolutely ghastly to imagine what all of our lives would have been like - would be like now - if the business world had succeeded in silencing "Silent Spring".
I wonder how many young people (and not-so-young people) today really realize that in the 1960s we were actually, and rapidly, approaching the brink of a true biological and ecological Armageddon. The newspapers of the era and History books echo of the intense peril of the "Cuban Missile Crisis". But the chimera of the Atomic Age was a danger everyone could see and speak out about and were motivated to manage and avoid. While the politicians were staging that side show, the criminally irresponsible scientific community and their chemical company patrons were quietly busy poisoning our planet and our bodies beyond recovery. The super-toxins they were spreading expand their deadliness geometrically and last literally for generations. Had not humble Rachael Carson not changed the course of History - for real - the Earth might well be a dead planet NOW!
What a heartbreaking tragedy that the woman who penned the book that very well may have saved us all wrote it when she was dying and didn't survive long enough to see the flowering of her heart's work. Personally, I think if the twentieth century had ANY hero or heroine, it had to be Rachael Carson.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mahvesh siddiqui
As you probably know, this is one of the great classics of environmental writing. It is distinguished both for its writing and for its immediate influence, sparking public concern that led to the near-total banning of DDT in the United States, among other things.

Carson was a biologist of no particular note, but a gifted nature writer. She turned her scientific training to explaining the effects of pesticides on the natural world, writing in a popular voice not a scientific one. That training and her passion gave Carson influence that more dispassionate writers at the same time did not achieve.

Those who want to defend pesticide use often suggest that she should be more dispassionate, and give more voice to both sides. I suppose these people believe that pesticide labels are fair and balanced, and include paeans to the beauties of the lives they destroy. When writing science, Carson was balanced; when writing polemic she was not. Deal with it.

Though the book is about chemicals and nature, it has a very strong political critique of government and corporate decision making. She acknowledges the legitimacy of pest control, and prefers biological means over chemical means. Whatever the means, she argues that these are decisions for the public, acting through its representatives, with full information about the choices and their consequences.

Her stories tell of people making pest control decisions on their own land that affect their neighbors and their neighbors' neighbors. Government officials make decisions in their jurisdiction that harm the wildlife and environment downstream and downwind. These people make decisions for other people in secret, arrogantly assuming that they know best for everyone.

What gives them the right, she asks? Who indeed?
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lindsey dixon
I finally got around to reading this book recently, since it's a classic and this is apparently its 50th anniversary.

Before I started reading it, I thought it would just be about things that I already knew, and largely I was right. Most of the stuff is things that I think the general public already knows, or things that we learned in biology class. I think for a great deal of the book she is explaining basic biology to people who don't know biology. Maybe it was revolutionary back then, but now society has advanced and DDT and a lot of these extremely poisonous chemicals have been outlawed.

In spite of that, I did learn a couple of things:

1) The extent to which these chemical sprays were being used back then. People would just literally fly these planes over an area and drop the poison, and EVERYTHING would die. Plants, animals, everything. People's livestock, beautiful songbirds, beautiful flowers, everything, which people actually wanted to preserve, and the people themselves would get sick too. It doesn't seem like they exercised a lot of common sense, but the big pesticide companies were pushing these eradication programs so they would make a lot of money, and so it happened. As Rachel Carson said somewhere, these kinds of poisons would normally be kept in a jar with a skull and crossbones on it, but now we just drop them "indiscriminately from the skies," as one of the chapters is titled. After I read this book, I went on Youtube to look up more, and I was watching this black and white video from back then, where they were literally spraying people with DDT while they were in the swimming pool or some other recreation, and these people looked like they were having such a good time.

2) The chapter on cancer was somewhat illuminating. Nowadays, it seems like everybody gets cancer. People do die from other things too, but a great deal of it is cancer. People keep talking about finding a cure for cancer, like some kind of miracle cure. Rachel Carson, even back then, was advocating prevention not cure, taking the toxic chemicals out of our environment, and not introducing them in the first place. I never knew that cancer wasn't really common until the start of the Industrial Revolution, so that was something I learned. Prevention not cure is still relevant today. People are still talking about a cure for cancer, like some kind of miracle cure, and are not really thinking about prevention, nor are they connecting the cancer epidemic with the toxicity of the environment. Even I didn't make that connection before I read this book. I knew environmental factors could cause cancer, but I didn't know that it was causing ALL of the cancer that we have now. That is something we should still listen to Rachel Carson on. It's like how Carson said somewhere, we want these chemicals, and then we want a pill to deal with the side effects, and then another pill to deal with THOSE side effects, instead of not causing the illness in the first place.

It all reminds me of the time when I was babysitting a kid, and the mother was telling me about his food allergies. And she commented, "When we were young in Taiwan, we never had food allergies or anything like that. It must be something in the environment." I wonder if environmental pollution is causing food allergies too, just like it causes cancer.

I have never felt that America was beautiful, but America is supposed to be beautiful, in all the songs and stuff. But driving around the American countryside, I have never felt it. I wonder if it has something to do with the mass killing back then.

All this just goes to show that when you spread death around, it reaches you eventually.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jen terpstra
Wonderful book (and arrived in great condition). Definitely something that everybody should read! Our planet needs all the help it can get.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
tracey klees
I bought this to inform some enviromrntalist understood where their cause originated. I mentioned the title and authors name to them but they had no idea what I was talking about?
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sarah haynes
I have bought used book in good condition before , but it was not like others, it is a wavy book, even it was so before mailing or it became so during the mailing process, I didn't like that!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book has been justly acclaimed for 35 years. It is a primer for environmental awareness, and finer words than these have been written in praise of this book. But there are two things I have noticed in this book that I have not seen mentioned. One is the implied conclusion we have to make about the condition of man, and his folly. His often ignorant and worse, arrogant manner of interacting with nature and other men. The often less than honorable relationship between the federal government and big business, without whom these lessons hard learned on the hazards of insecticides would probably not have been necessary. What impressed me so was the way that people continued to use these harmful products after obvious hazard to themselves and nature by being convinced by the government that it was safe to do so. They were so trusting and so wrong. Their belief that they could alter nature to suit their needs indefinitely speaks of their ignorance.
The other point I would like to make is that I found Ms. Carson's prose to be nearly as delightful as poetry. Her writing style is beautiful, refined, and yet her intellect and strength of character shine through. While the topic of this book is profoundly disturbing, Ms. Carson's writing made it curiously pleasant. It is easy to read, and still a relevant topic after so many years. I will be anxious to read the follow-up books on this subject.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The honey bee CCD is what lead me to recently read Silent Spring. I was quite suprised at the high level of writing ability and technical expertise that Ms. Carson conveys in this book. Carson was not totally against using DDT, but rather using the insecticide in a responsible manner that would not lead to pest resistance and/or detrimental effects on the food chain. Even though people associate Silent Spring with DDT...the real monsters in the environment are the recombinant chemicals that arise when you have several chemicals mixed together...forming new chemicals with completely unknown actions. Even though cancer deaths for certain types of cancers are declining ( due mainly to more efficacious treatments)...cancer rates continue to rise in both people and animals. In my opinion, it is these chemicals that are causing gene mutations leading to cancer. Medical society continues to focus on treating cancer instead of finding causation in lieu of greater monetary gain. Thanks to Rachel Carson for enlightening the public on the mutiple dangers associated with widesspread use of toxic chemicals.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Rachel Carson's expose of the broad, deep, complex, hidden, irreversible and unconsidered effects of man-made chemicals was earth shaking in its day. She exhibited great courage in challenging the commercial and political interests who benefited from the public policy status quo. Her writing is smooth and informed. Her argument could truly be understood by John Q. Public. She carefully and accurately explained scientific concepts and findings that were new to most people. She is rightly hailed as a founder of the environmental movement and those positive steps that have been taken to protect the environment, inform public debate and raise substantive question's about man's role in modifying nature.

On the other hand, her book overstates its case, demonizes opponents and discredits other more balanced approaches to public policy positions. On balance, I am thankful for her writing this book at a time when environmental issues were not on the radar screen. The basic improvements made since that time depended upon the awareness she generated. The real disappointment is with our lack of progress as a nation and a world in evaluating environmental issues such as global warming. We generate much more heat than light.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Although it has been over 50 years since the publication of this book and the events chronicled in the book occurred in the 1940s & '50s, Carson's work is as timely and necessary as ever. Carson deftly articulates how our post-WW2 obsession with chemical solutions to biological problems led to abject abuse of our environment, how we (and other species) suffered at the hands of that abuse, then closes with possible alternatives to using toxic insecticides and pesticides. The environmental movement Carson set in motion has certainly had victories and made strides in the decades since publication of "Silent Spring" --- DDT is no longer used as a pesticide due, in large part, to the publicity Carson brought to the issue --- but success on that front shouldn't make us complacent on others. It's unfortunate Rachel Carson has long since passed because an update to this book would be a very welcome update to the environmental movement.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
steve sarner
I recently re-read Silent Spring. I had read it years ago, around 1970.
I have an MS degree in Agriculture and in Ag we were swamped with input from the chemical companies. In Ag school the chem. companies sponser all the clubs, the crop science clubs, the dairy science clubs, the horticulture clubs, and so on. They buy the ribs for the barbeques, often the beer too. They wrap the new Ag students up tight.
But I was always interested in organic farming, organic gardening, sustainable agriculture, and I, unlike so many in Ag., was always interested in what Rachel Carson had to say.
What I found so interesting on re-reading this book many years later was that it was still so readable, so to the point, and most of all, that in all this time, so many of the things she warned us about back in the 60's, had not changed, were still here.
I am a horticulture writer (author of Allergy-Free Gardening, Safe Sex in the Garden,(Ten Speed Press) & other books) and I keep a large supply of important reference books on hand. Silent Spring is one of them.
To anyone who happens to read this review of mine, I want to say that if you haven't already read Silent Spring, read it. It will open your eyes. If you too, like me, read it a long time ago, try it again. You'll be surprised.
Rachel Carson was way ahead of her time. She was a true naturalist and a very excellent biologist, and actually all of her books are well worth reading and owning. I am reviewing this book now, simply because I want to encourage more people to read or re-read it. It is a classic, and what she found about man- made toxins in our environment, is as true today (unfortunately) as ever. A great book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is one of those classics that has been on my TBR list for far too long. Now that I’ve finally read Carson’s landmark treatise, I cannot recommend it highly enough. A brilliant naturalist and gifted writer, Carson was a master at making complex scientific information readily accessible to the reader. I would call her the E.O. Wilson of her generation, except that it’s probably more appropriate to say E.O. Wilson is the Rachel Carson of our generation. The only downside of reading Silent Spring is how apparent it becomes that despite the revolutionary impact of Silent Spring, the fundamental problem Carson identified has not yet been fixed. While we have since banned DDT, dieldrin, and the other chemicals that were the scourges of Carson’s time, we have not yet overcome the mindset that allowed those, and many other pesticides since, to be sprayed with impunity over our environment. Unfortunately, Carson’s Silent Spring remains a timeless work that is still all too relevant today.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson provides an in-depth look of how the world was changing in the 1940s and 50s. After World War II, man began to develop very hazardous chemicals and decided to combat the insects without, many times, legitamste reasons. Carson's analysis of these new chemicals, such as DDT, was revolutionary and changed the scope of how these pesticides were handled in the future. she provides many real life examples and paints a very grim picture in order to try to reach out to the ignorant people of the time. the common person was very unaware of the potential danger these chemicals presented to them. Carson talks about many relevant topics including the effects on wildlife, livestock, the water, and even humans. she is able to tell the story by breaking down complex science terms for the common person to understand. Overall the book was very engrossing, but at times it can be a bit repetitive. It was a stepping stone to awareness of the situation at the time. You can even say with the help of carson the end of the world as we know it was averted.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
reham al wafi
Rachel Carson (1907-64) died of complications from breast cancer at the age of 56 which makes Silent Spring, published before she told anyone of her condition, a haunted book, a dead woman walking seeking justice for a crime. Carson's body is almost is a metaphor for the planet. The so-called "environmental movement" - which the book is commonly thought to have started - is really about human justice, people are part of the environment and justice for the environment is justice for people. By reading Carson today and remembering how and when she died, we are reminded that keeping our campsites in better condition than we found them (old Boy Scout motto), not trashing our backyards, is a moral consideration both about nature and people, ultimately one and the same. Carson's appeal for justice from the grave has not been met, her predictions have come true: cancer is epidemic, public health in general is eroded, and DDT and other chemicals now permeate the earth from the Arctic to our mothers milk. Progress has been made but "environmentalism" still carries a heavy stigma among many. The American pledge ends with "and justice for all" - human justice can never be obtained so long as nature, of which humans are a part, continues to be debased.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katie brennan
Rachel Carson's extraordinary courage and insight helped change the course of history. Those who try to discredit her will never approach her importance and the profound influence she had in helping to make our world a cleaner, healthier, and safer place for all.

Carson's seminal "Silent Spring" is a scientific and remarkably brave expose' about abusive environmental practices which were accepted as the status quo in years past. These abuses caused great devastation to our ecological systems and to human health.

Even today, or maybe ESPECIALLY today, we must remain vigilant because there is constant pressure to compromise the health of our planet due to greed, stupidity, and/or apathy. Our earth is a unique, life-sustaining miracle. Let's not destroy this miracle.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
This was a very important read. It was both enlightening and shocking. The author presented all of her information with undeniably thorough documentation. The book managed to communicate the urgent situation the U.S. was in during the 1960's and also offers possible current-day alternatives for insect control. The book also serves as a reminder of how important it is to respect (what has the potential to be) a perfectly balanced world if we allow nature to work as it should. Hopefully we, as a people, can learn from past mistakes. In addition, it made me realize how much goes on in our communities without our consent (ie. pesticide trucks driving through the neighborhood spewing out poison). As far as how the book is written, I would say that it isn't exactly a "quick read", but one assumes that going in. The author does repeat herself often in order to make her point, however her prose is easy to follow even for those not scientifically oriented.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
When Rachel Carson published "Silent Spring" in 1962, her goal was to make everyone aware of what the toxic substance DDT was doing to the delicate ecosystems in North America, most notable its role in the destruction of bird populations. After reading "Silent Spring", one can see why the book was a turning point in the movement of environmentalism.
Rachel Carson did a massive amount of research to study the effects that pesticides like DDT had on the environment. Her chapters are filled with highly-documented scientific facts, but they also possess a poignant element which helped stir the nation into doing something about it in the late sixties-early seventies after the book's release.
Al Gore's introduction eloquently details the sentiments and actions that this book prompted and it compliments the text very well.
This book is high on my list of recommendations.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
stacy davidowitz
I came to read "Silent Spring" because my 12 year old was assigned this book for summer reading. I had heard of Rachel Carson's book, but had never had the opportunity to read it myself. After reading it, and studying the positions both for and against what Carson espoused in the book, I have to say I am pleasantly surprised.

The book obviously takes the position that numerous pesticides are bad for our environment, and Carson uses examples throughout the animal kingdom (insects, birds, other animals) and biosphere (soil, rivers, air) to make her point. The last section of the book takes on general commentary about the cancer-causing ability of such chemicals and the various biological methods to control the insects that the chemicals were designed to control.

The book is very well written and although about a sensitive and controversial topic, it did not seem sensationalistic to me. Rather, I felt as though I was reading an extended 'New Yorker' article which was written in an approach like a third person monologue. The arrangement is excellent is that Carson compartmentalized her arguments to different areas or sections. The prose was excellent and very easy to read. Carson didn't assume that the reader would have any background in science, so it comes across very simple to read.

As to the implications of this book, I've seen both the good and bad. One side lauds Carson for being the first person to bring the insecticide issue to public attention. The other side condemns Carson because the eventual ban on DDT led to a resurgence in malaria in third world countries and a subsequent increase in deaths. Practically speaking, it's hard for me to determine which side is telling the truth, but I didn't read this book with a political agenda in mind. I read it with an open mind, and I think that, like in most situations, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

If you can keep your political positions packed away, I'd suggest reading this very engaging book, as even though the science may be past its time, it is a classic that all should be familiar with. I am happy that my daughter's school gave me the opportunity to read this almost 35 years later!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
heather erosky
Rachel Carson did a job for society, a job that required many hours of research and thinking. It is not a matter of thanking her, but a matter of what we should do now, now that we have the knowledge that something is deeply wrong with our insecticide use. The one daunting realization that comes to mind when talking about action in a field like this, is that one either needs to be overly zealous to save the environment--for whoever decides to take up the environmentalism battle will face many obstacles--or one needs to be connected (e.g., be the president or vice president). The next thought is just how hard it will be to find one’s way around all the lies, and all the bribes and corruption that will surely find the person who gets up high enough to make changes. Thank you Rachel Carson
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mar a clara
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is a powerful, moving depiction of the harmful consequences of pesticide use in the United States. This book is an excellent treatise on the way that humanity’s desire to control their surroundings can be detrimental to the earth. Although the book was published in 1962 and is therefore a bit outdated in the realm of science, it is still an American classic and a spellbinding read. Carson’s writing is accessible and understandable, even to people unfamiliar with scientific and environmental concepts. Carson’s arguments are compelling because they take into account both the human and the environmental sides of the argument. In short, Silent Spring is a must-read for anyone concerned about human impacts on the environment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
melissa vogt
The novel made the reader aware of the dangers of incecticides and pesticides by detailing the destruction the poisons cause. Extensive research and direct quotes made the points more effective. Also, the way the chapters were seperated helped to focus on more specific points at a time. Too much of reading it at once could become redundant as many of the topics related to eachother. The parts that were too scientific became hard to focus on, but when human examples were used it regained its sense of importance. After reading the book you can not disagree with the fact that humans should not attempt to control nature.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lauren asfour
This book is a classic observational study of the effects of man-made chemicals on the natural world. Carson, a biologist and writer, turned her attention to the natural consequences of the new practices of trying to control insect pests with chemical treatments. She begins the book by explaining the chemistry behind the commonly used agricultural chemicals such as DDT and Parathion. She then examines the fate of the chemicals, in water, soil, plants, animals, and people. She notes that not only are the chemicals causing health problems for animals and people, but they don't even maintain their effectiveness for pest or weed control for long because Nature finds a way around them. She documents disease and death in birds, fish, and humans, and explains some of the biochemical pathways for cellular damage. At the end of the book, she discusses some non-chemical alternatives for achieving the same agricultural aims.

It's hard to believe that this book was written so many years ago, since the points Carson makes are still so relevant today. Because of the importance the book had in launching a much greater awareness of ecology, it's very exciting to read. It is superbly written, accessible to high school students yet still informative for those with backgrounds in the relevant fields.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
poulomi roy
Overall, I thought the book was very informative. Even though it was extremely repetative. The book talked about pesticides and their effect on the environment. Pesticides seap into the earth's biogeological cycles and disrupt all life. Often the organisms intended to be eradicated are not the only ones harmed. Pesticides harm everything. The use of natural controls would be better because the cost less, are more effective, and are safe to human life. Unfortunately this book could have gotten its point across in half the chapters. Rachel Carson wrote this book a long time ago and it is amazing how much she changed the public's view on pesticides. Overall, pesticides are bad. I recomend this book to anyone interested in environmental science.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joumana jaser
Silent Spring was not itself silent- it immediately created a big bang, the reverberations of which are still being heard. Most of what I can say about the book -summary, analysis, opinion- has already been written in other reviews. My 5 stars is about the book, but I do want to mention a few points about the Kindle version.

I've been waiting a long time for SS to port to Kindle. I already had the DTB and am now very happy to have the Kindle version, which I can carry around in my Kindle 3. Being a text-intensive book, it is as easy to read on the K3 as it is on the DX. The black and white drawings look as good on the screen as on paper. The Kindle version doesn't replicate the cover (there is a blank page) and oddly, the table of contents is not linked to the chapters! The list of sources is given by page number.

But here's the neat thing- the index is hot-linked to the text! The keywords in the index have symbols after them that look like |>|. When you click on it, it brings you to the location in the text where the keyword is found. If there are multiple instances, there are multiple symbols.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
schimen scott
I have just finished reading the 1962 printing of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring". Ms. Carson draws our attention to the effects of pesticides on all tiers of life-forms. It is the book that made the American people aware of what our Department of Agriculture and the Department of Forestry were doing to destroy life as we know it in this country. Carson writes in an easy-to-understand language that readers at the high-school level will get, and I urge ALL high-school students to read this! "Silent Spring" will have you running for the Organically Grown food section of your grocery store the next time you shop!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dianne dohoney
Rachel Louise Carson (1907-1964) was an American marine biologist and conservationist whose writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement. (She also inspired Lucy of "Peanuts" fame, who said, "We girls need our heroines.") Carson also wrote books such as The Sea Around Us and The Sense of Wonder. (She never married, and her long friendship with Dorothy Freeman has raised some inquiring eyebrows in the modern world.) Sadly, she died of breast cancer and a heart attack at a relatively young age.

(NOTE: Page references refer to the 1962 304-page Fawcett paperback edition.)

This book, of course, is famous for bringing to public attention the effects of pesticides such as DDT. (Commercial propaganda films from the 1950s would show groups of kids sitting at a picnic table eating hot dogs, who were sprayed with DDT, but continued blithely eating their hot dogs, assured that "It's completely safe!") She makes a sobering case for the "subsequent accumulation" of small amounts of pesticides which are only slowly excreted from the body, so that "the threat of chronic poisoning and degenerative changes of the liver and other organs is very real." (Pg. 30) This threat accumulates as it works its way up the Food Chain---i.e., with birds eating fish, which in turn had eaten plankton and smaller organisms (Pg. 52).

She observes that the use of "weed killers" eliminates a useful function that such "natural plant communities" serve---such as serving as an indicator of the condition of the soil. (Pg. 78)

She wrote with barely-concealed passion that insecticides are "not selective poisons," and can just as easily poison the family cat, the farmer's cattle, the rabbit in the field, and the lark in the sky; and such death is "not only sudden but horrible." She says, "By acquiescing in an act that can cause such suffering to a living creature, who among us is not diminished as a human being?" (Pg. 95-96)

She asks the poignant question of WHO has made the decision that set in motion these "chains of poisonings," and decided that eradicating plant-eating insects is worth the later death of birds. "Who had decided... for the countless legions of people who were not consulted that the supreme value is a world without insects, even though it be a sterile world ungraced by the curving wing of a bird in flight?" (Pg. 118)

She points out that ant mounds on lawns or school playgrounds can be dealt with individually, and need not require "drenching" millions of acres in poisons. (Pg. 149) She also observes that different people (e.g., children, women, those with allergic sensibilities) may be more suceptible to pesticides than others are.

She makes a strong case for trying to prevent carcinogenic agents from entering the environment, rather than trying to "cure" cancer once it is found. (Pg. 214-215)

She concludes the book by noting the hopeful promise of other technologies (e.g., ultrasonic sound) being used to kill harmful insects, rather than using pesticides.

This foundational book is still "inspirational" reading for those modern people concerned with the environment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stuart meczes
Holy cow. What a well-written book. I can totally understand how Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962) jump-started the modern environmental movement.

The 300 page book starts and ends with hopeful fables of a healthy environment full of vibrant flora and fauna. The middle 15 chapters document, in painful detail, the damage that synthetic chemicals inflict on life. The book is famous for exposing the dangers of DDT (and aldrin and heptachlor), but I was shocked and angered by the bigger problem: All knowing bureaucrats over-applying chemicals in places that do not need them, to fight bugs that may not be present, without a clue of the collateral damage that they are causing.

Yes, we're talking about the USDA (and various government "landscaping" bureaucracies).

I took a few notes while reading the book:

* Carson started speaking out about DDT in 1945. It was banned in the US in response to her book.
* She too respected, intelligent and careful to ignore. She died in 1964, of cancer.*
* DDT went everywhere, even hundreds of kilometers from where it was sprayed.
* She wrote, consistently, about the need to be careful about using chemicals and pesticides. She did not advocate bans on chemicals, per se.**
* Monsanto appears as the face of evil -- as they have recently, twice, thrice.
* Western Sagebrush was labeled a "weed" and sprayed with herbicides, with massive bad results.
* Same thing in Maine and Michigan, where they devastated thousands of acres of ALL life, by overspraying for insect populations that were NOT out of control. Spraying frequently led to massive rebounds and much more damage, often by killing predator and competator species.
* California rice growers sprayed their fields. Local insects, fish and migratory birds died.
* Fisheries (salmon, trout, bass, etc.) were destroyed (by direct damage and starvation for lack of insect food), but people were also harmed by eating fish that had bioaccumulated DDT and related chemicals.
* The USDA's campaign against the fire ant is a case-study in the chemical abuse, money waste, and massive environmental destruction [p. 171]:

In 1959... the Agriculture Department offered the chemicals free to Texas landowners who would sign a release absolving federal, state and local governments of responsibility for damage. In the same year, the State of Alabama, alarmed and angry at the damage done by the chemicals, refused to appropriate further funds to the project. One of its officials characterized the whole program as "ill advised, hastily conceived, poorly planned, and a glaring example of riding roughshod over the responsibilities of other public and private agencies."

[USDA incompetence made me want to throw the book across the room at this point. I feel the same about corn ethanol. I bet politicians were involved...]
* Many entomologists (bug scientists) worked for chemical companies, either on staff or at universities, because these companies funded their research. Not surprisingly, these "professionals" supported chemical control of insects.

A big thought: Most farmers will tell you that they minimize the volume of chemicals (and fertilizer) that they apply to their land, because they do not want to waste money and time on over-application. It's thus important (and sad) to note that the biggest abusers of chemicals in Silent Spring are bureaucrats whose jobs dictate that they should "do something" with other people's money (OPM!) and homeowners who do not understand the dangers of the chemicals they use and who think that "some is good, so more is better" when applying them to their yards. Both groups are convinced to buy and use by salesmen and advertising;*** both groups have little idea of how effective chemicals are (they do not watch yields); and both groups do not suffer the consequences from over-use of chemicals. Bureaucrats apply them to other people's land; homeowners just wash excess into storm drains and distant environments. Farmers may be willing to chemically sterilize their land, but at least they experience most of the costs and benefits of those actions.

She concludes with [p. 297]:

The "control of nature" is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man. The concepts and practices of applied entomology for the most part date from the Stone age of science. It is our alarming misfortune that so primitive a science has armed itself with the most modern and terrible weapons, and that in turning them against the insects it has also turned them against the earth.

Bottom Line: FIVE STARS. Be careful with poisons; they can kill you and everything that you love.
* Scientists suggest that cancer is purely man-made, as in the Egyptians -- old Egyptians -- didn't have it. Mukherjee claims that it's been with us for a long time, but his book summarizes ancient references to "tumors" that may not be cancerous.

** Protecting rainforests and draining hatching sites is more effective controlling mosquitoes (malaria) than DDT.

*** My favorite is pine-scented bug killer. I guess you can spray it on your kids too!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
luke spillane
I read Silent Spring years ago. In the last 10 years, BASF, the Chemical Company and Dow and etc., etc., put out a chemical to kill all things... called Arsenal/Imazapyr. They used it throughout the United States and other places. They sprayed it to kill invader species... without telling anyone. It killed birds, cats, gave children asthma and death in the night. It caused people to cough blood and have heart attacks, along with deadly strokes. Much data has been compiled by ecologists from New Mexico... Rachel Carson is not just talking about DDT... she is talking about the very essence of life. ATP to ADP... that kills your DNA... So, read her... teach her.. tell the world that we are being poisoned to death with chemicals. I am an evolutionary ecologist. I saw and recorded what this organophosphate and neuro-toxin can do to the planet... linked with Roundup!!! Read and hand out copies of Silent Spring like it was candy... Thank you E.O Wilson....
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
katie hartung
Silent Spring was a very interesting read. It brings up a topic that is still a major topic of discussion today, 50 years later. DDT has since been banned, and much of the credit for this is given to Carson for the writing of her book. Still, it is interesting seeing how today’s discussions compare to what Carson was arguing for in 1962. For example, many people fear that the pesticides, fertilizers and seeds used in today’s agriculture have unsafe side-effects for humans, animals and nature. And despite the fact that many organizations claim they are 100% safe, many of these organizations tell people to stay away from these chemicals when they are being sprayed.
Overall, Carson’s did a great job bringing to light an issue that was not a hot topic at her time and changing that. She shows her readers that she is very knowledgeable in the field of DDT and knows what she is talking about. The fact that DDT was banned in 1972 shows that Carson was not just some crazy lady looking for attention, but someone who genuinely cared about people and nature and did not want to see them suffer from the side effects of DDT. Unfortunately, Carson passed away in 1964, just two years after her book was published. This means that she did not get to witness all the changes that came as a result of her book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
martha doherty
Silent SPring is a ook that everybody should read. It alerts individuals of the potent hazards of pesticides. THe book provides specific examples of chemical poisoning and its effect on the environment. On the campus of Michigan State University a place hwere robins were once known for their dominating presence. DDT was sprayed on the Elm trees. THe next year, dead robins appeared everywhere on campus, and few baby robins hatched. THis type of devestation is just one example Rachel Carson uses to portray the horrid consequences of pesiticide use. Carson writes with an exuberant manner that the average person can read. Though her writing was repetitive at times it is important to read this book because of the understanding it gives you about the harmful effects of pesticides.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Many of the points are just as fresh today as they were in 1962. Carson had a knack for getting people to think about what we are doing to the earth in the name of greed and ignorant business interests. I would hope every high school senior could read this book, so they can reflect on what vehicles, smokestacks, etc. are doing to our precious environment. How about species still disappearing at an alarming rate and mainstream America seems not to care enough?

Carson has many common sense solutions, that would be seriously considered and implemented today, as one reviewer writes: "Many insects have natural enemies that, if introduced into a problem area, will keep down pest populations. Even localized spraying will work better than mass, indiscriminate spraying. Carson argues that biological control methods are increasingly important because insects are building up resistance to pesticides, requiring the creation of even more virulent poisons in a never-ending cycle where nobody wins."

She was telling people bad news, when most people want to hear good news. The same goes for today's society. George Bush is telling people good news, news they want to hear, while people like Howard Dean lost because he wasn't telling the people what they wanted to hear. Politicians need a lot of courage these days if they want to tell the truth and do what's right on environmental issues and other issues.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Rachel Carson wrote so beautifully that any few pages of SILENT SPRING, or its predecessor, the majestic THE SEA AROUND US, throb with the vitality and yearning of the greatest poetry. SILENT SPRING caused an enormous sensation forty years ago, as it married a highly evolved lyric writing style with a hardcore expose of DDT and other insecticides, a topic which was quite flammable and which provoked the wrath of a host of leading scientists and others invested in the big business of "nature cleansing." To some, Carson was a renegade, and a retro one at that, a conservative who wished to take the world back to the days before "scientific progress."

As many conservationists have been called before and since. But conservation does not automatically imply "conservative," and I think Carson, in her own way, was quite radical in her thinking and in her prognosis for the future. This book is lovely, but to my mind not well served by the insipid introduction by Terry Tempest Williams who is an OK writer but nothing special, particularly when compared to Carson. My advice is, skip the intro, you don't need it, and get right to the heart of the book and the wonderful limpid prose, the most evocative since Thoreau's.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This book was written in 1962 and was the first to introduce the dangers of DDT and other pesticides. This book systematically reveals realistic statistics of the effects of pesticides worldwide. Examples from pesticide control in Europe, Asia, and the US expose the impacts of human actions on nature. Rachel Carson pioneers in describing the impact of pesticides in all parts of nature. In response to the harmful disadvantages to chemical pesticides, Carson offers biological controls which have succeeded in maintaining pests. Though Silent Spring is factual, it is repetative at times. It also emotionally describes environmental aspects. However, Silent Spring is indeed an eye-opening book which allows one to see the impacts of humans and pesticides.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book is well written and so enlightening. I had no idea of the chemical, insecticidal past that affects every single one of us today. I strongly recommend you read this and then borrow it out to all of your friends and family.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nils davis
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. Being unimaginative this was backed up by about two of the others. I would have mentioned Rachel Carson although she still represents 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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Rachel Carson writes a truly amazing account of humankind's need to destroy itself and everything around us. What amazes me is that even after the first birds began to fall from the rain of pesticides, the government continued to spray year after year! The way in which we go blindly into the world assuming every new invention and chemical to be 'safe' because the companies that make them say so will never cease to boggle my mind. When iit comes down to making money, big companies will say anything about their products to get them sold. PBS just ran a very interesting documentary on the subject of chemicals in our workplace and environment see for a time when it is to be rebroadcast.
I must say that the book did seem a bit repetitive at times, but nontheless, I think this was Carson objective, to hammer home how truly stupid we humans can be.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
dave m
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson was a very fascinating novel. It is the "Environmental Bible" and started the environmental conservation movement.She directly focuses on the issue of DDT and other toxic chemicals that are used as pesticides and insecticides. Carson states how we, as humans, have caused many of the problems that Earth has encountered. Many organisms are no longer in existence because of our decisions and actions. I really enjoy how she gives a plethora of examples for each topic. Each chapter focuses on a cause of the environmental issues as well as the effects. I also enjoy her choice in the title of the novel. The first chapter is short and sweet; she speaks of birds that are no longer in existence or no longer living in that particular area and states how it was a silent spring. You learn a lot from her novel and if you're interested in environmental issues and even chemistry this book is vital to your studies. Overall, the book was good. However there were a few minor things I did not care much for. She was quite repetitious at times and got into depth a bit too much. I also felt that the book sort of lacked a plot which made itdifficult to stay focused. Other than that, Silent Spring is a brilliant novel and Rachel Carson deserves big time kudos for her excellent job in reshaping many people's views of the environment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Edward Abbey, a well-known author and environmental activist, once said, "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul". Carson obviously felt similarly, and expressed her extreme passion for nature, the earth, living things, and the environment in her compelling book, Silent Spring. Carson was one who would not remain silent, or go without action. She boldly alerted the public to the poisons and dangers we are dispersing into the world. Carson's writing reveals her concern for everything that has been done to the earth, and will be done in the future. However, it also shows the hope that someday instead of pouring chemicals deemed intolerable and poisonous for humans by the FDA into our environment, natural and safer solutions will be sought and widely used for the same reasons. This book served as both a wonderful, thought-provoking read, as well as a terrible realization. I enjoyed how with each page I read, a myriad of questions arose forcing the reader to think about the distinctions between animals and man, the interconnected web of life, the silent and deadly killers eating away at the environment, and how we let it get this far. Despite the fact that this book was written in the early 1960's, it still teaches several valuble lessons to every reader. Since that time many advances in methodology, technology, and science have been made to alleviate many of the problems discussed in this book, but the damage has been done. Much of the environment will never be the same, and it's important to understand why. What is more powerful than a book to inform the unaware! Being born far after the time when the book was released, and the environmental movement began, this book has been a key tool in helping me to understand man's capacity to poison, kill, and destroy, as well as his amazing capability to understand, learn, help, teach, and try to change and fix what has been done.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chun huang
Silent Spring was so beautifully written with such plausible explanations as to cause and effect it leaves little room for critic's, Not to mention the seemingly over whelming fact that it was written over fifty years ago. Additionally she underscores the egregious for-profit----nothing else matters corporations. Fast forward fifty years, Monsanto and their ilk have introduced into the bulwark of our food change GMOs (systemic poisoning) without so much as a simple requirement to label the product.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
john chute
Very eye opening regarding our killing of plants, animals and mankind with pesticides.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The book is known because of the impact Silent Spring had on pesticide use. I had no idea until now how elegantly Carson crafted her argument. The author was dying of cancer when the Silent Spring reached bookstores. The beautiful, often poetic prose transcends the conservation argument made against DDT. No wonder the book created an instant sensation and lasting change.

Even when the text gets more prosaic, the case is devastating: "In Florida, two children found an empty bag and used it to repair a swing. Shortly thereafter both of them died and three of their playmates became ill. The bag had once contained an insecticide called parathion, one of the organic phosphates; tests established death by parathion poisoning."

Carson as David took down the Goliath of the chemical industry through the shear power of her persuasive argument. In the process, she fueled the environmental movement and saved countless animals, and even whole species. Brava.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
trina chambard
I found this book to be very, very informative. It brought up many points that alot of people have probably never even thought of. The concept of humans doing such unspeakable and irreversable things to our environment is a scary reality.
The way that Rachel Carson used real examples and incedents made me realize that these kind of things are real, and that no matter how much we ignore these problems, they will persist. Many of these issues could be easily resolved, or at least the results of our misconduct lessened, if we realized the severity of these actions and did a few simple things to reduce such misconduct.
As far as the actual writing was concerned, I was a little lost at first. Carson's language was written differently than I'm used to reading. However, as I read more of the book, I found it easier to understand what she was saying. The book had a good structure and I found it easy and very interesting to read once I understood.
The author must have conducted a vast amount of research before writing this book. There is an absolutely tremendous quantity of information in its pages.
If nothing else, you should read this just to learn about what is really going on out there. Its kind of scary to find out what we are getting ourselves into without even fully understanding the consequenses. Hopefully, we will realize what we are doing to our earth before it's to late. This book does an excellent job of making you realize that we are eventually going to regret what we have done, and what we continue to do. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the earth, conservationism and to anyone who wants to find out what kind of world their children will be living in.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This book will explain to you why and how pesticides affect the enviroment, you and your family. It opened my eyes on the importance of organic agriculture to my health.
I read one of the reviews, and it pointed out that someone drank DDT and didn't get affected... Well, in the book, a scientist drank DDT, and died immediately. The negative affects of pesticides have been widely documented, and not just in this book.
One big draw back of this book! It's excruciatingly boring.
The bottom line:
this is a classic book;
if you don't believe in why organic is important, read the book;
if you believe that pesticide/chemical environment is bad for your health, read it if you want to know the scientific explanation.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kristin franke
As an environmental science student at Melbourne University, I was told "Silent Spring" launched the environmental movement and paved the way for much greater knowledge of the environment. In contrast, on conservative book lists, the book is sometimes listed as a bigger killer than Mein Kampf because of its ban on DDT, but the liberal "Modern Library" listed it as the fifth best nonfiction book of the twentieth century.

The reality is that "Silent Spring" is neither quite the pioneer in ecology that it is sometimes supposed to be nor could anything in it be said to pave the way for a huge number of deaths from the spread of malaria. First of all, the book does not offer any serious insight into the actual functioning of ecosystems, even though Carson must have known quite a lot about these questions considering the amount she wrote about marine biology. There is nothing in "Silent Spring" that discusses even the most basic human ecology or resource depletion problems. Although the book's viewpoint that humans were capable of altering the environment is drastic manners via the use of artificial chemicals, was a genuine revelation, anybody seeking a precursor to Marc Reisner,Tim Flannery or even Sylvia Earle will be disappointed.

On the other hand, though the descriptions of the way in which pesticides killed fish in many American rivers is truly graphic and all the better for it, claims that Rachel Carson actually advocated the complete banning of pesticides that killed malarial mosquitoes can be shown in the book itself to be false. It was only the hysteria that came after the book that led many people to advocate complete bans on pesticides, and those who see her as a mass murderer overlook two facts.

The first is that one of "Silent Spring"'s most essential points - that insects become resistant to specialised insecticides very quickly - means that it is exceptionally unlikely DDT is likely to keep malaria eradicated for long periods. The second is that Carson was not nearly so misanthropic as her critics would have it. Rather than advocating rapid growth of pests that would reduce the food supply, she advocated much more efficient use of pesticides that would probably serve to reduce resistance and make for much less ecological damage as well as potentially lower costs. The fact that oil's cheapness is "Silent Spring"'s day eliminated this potential gain is consistently but naturally overlooked by her critics.

What makes "Silent Spring" valuable is not that it merely shows pesticides have done damage, but that it is able to see far worse consequences. The most telling are the way in which the absence of one insect from spraying leads to another becoming a worse pest, which has an (unfortunately overlooked) analog in the biological control which Carson advocates as the answer to pest problems - though I know all too well from studying the cane toad that such a view is simplistic and Carson fails to mention that agents used for biological control as often as not become pests themselves. Her idea of using such methods as fertility control, however, is actually further ahead of its time than anything else in "Silent Spring" as it was not studied significantly before the 1990s.

This ability to move beyond simplistic arguments has had many benefits for "Silent Spring" over the years. Most especially, Carson's ability to see beyond simplistic cause-and-effect analyses is one reason why "Silent Spring" has held up with age vastly better than The Population Bomb or Unsafe at Any Speed, which are so often bracketed with it. I sincerely hope people can get beyond the hype to see a book that has held up very well and remains an impressive read even a half-century later as well as a superb look into the technology and life of its time. Such is a rare combination.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Silent Spring made me more aware of the devastating impact that chemical pesticides, such as DDT, can have on the environment. For the mst part, i enjoyed the book and thought it was an interesting way to learn about these environmental issues. The book used terminology and presented concepts that we have learned in Ap environmental science; therefore, i think it was a good way to apply our past knowledge to this book. Although it was not the most exciting book i have ever read, it presents a very convincing case against the use of pesticide that changed my mind about using them.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Carson's slient spring is a well-written, heavily profound commentary on the dangers of Persistant Organic Pollutants (POPs) and their effects on every aspect of nature. Driving home point after point about different harms brought about by these chemicals, her study clearly earned the critical acclaim it has received over the last 40 years.

Her prose is extremely easy to follow for a technical book, and nearly anyone can read it. I am only mildly interested in science, and even less interested in ecology. However, I had no trouble grasping the concepts she brought up in her report. All of her anecdotes and evidence are presented in a manner simple enough for the layman but profound enough for the most educated professionals
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Silent Spring is, without a doubt, the most amazing book I have ever read. Though it is gut-loaded with facts, Carson' s ingenious wording makes reading it a somewhat enjoyable experience. It seems as if the words had an almost surreal quality. For example one of her chapters is entitled, "Realms of the Soil," and another is, "The Earth's Green Mantle." One can tell that this is her style of writing because she also used such titles in her other books such as Under the Sea Wind. With this style, the drawbacks are that about every sentence is difficult to understand, with few I completely did not understand at all. Then again, I am just a preteen; Silent Spring was intended for adults to read, comprehend, and then heed its warning. I most definitely can see why the people of the 1960's were so moved by this single book, for I could have almost be fooled to thinking that it was a piece of classic fictional literature when I began reading it.
This book was also quite informative, as I was appalled by some of the actual events mentioned, like the story of a factory or warehouse that polluted the water around it so much that over time, the menagerie of chemicals bonded to form an additional one. It is true that Carson exaggerated a bit, but the point is, her message was sent far beyond a person's imagination. Silent Spring was the smoking gun against chemical toxins. Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed Silent Spring, and at times I found it hard to put down. After all, I did not give it such a high rating for nothing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
amy gowans
Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" is just defined in one word: Revolutionary.
The author take us beyond our trashy city-park, beyond our polluted city, she takes us to explore the world being attacked by the human kind.
"Silent Spring" was published a couple of decades ago, but we can see that what this book said was true and what Rachel Carson predicted is yet becoming our reality.
The book is very interesting and we may appreciate that the author made a huge research in this topic, basically DDT spraying and treatment.
The book emphasizes on the problems pesticides cause, not only to humans but to nature itself. The author tries to change people thoughts, and make us aware of the danger this chemicals being poured into our fields represent.
The book also gives alternatives to common pesticides and investigates each case of alternatives that is, or was, used.
As we know, Rachel Carson wrote this book long ago, making it now old, or out of date, but as you read it you realize that "Silent Spring" is clearly showing our modern date ecological problems.
So, with all this, I think Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" is a magnificent book, a bit polluted in the way is written, but a magnificent work.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
isaac bridges
Joni Mitchell perhaps most aptly summarizes the driving idea of Silent Spring in her song "Big Yellow Taxi": "Hey farmer farmer / Put away that DDT now / Give me spots on my apples / But leave me the birds and the bees. Please!" While both the book and the song are a bit outdated in the United States as DDT was banned in 1972, it's still an interesting analysis of insecticides/herbicides, societies relationship with science, and the effects a capitalistic driven culture has on the environment. Likewise, the interaction of the natural web and human's impact on it is greatly emphasized. Something I've always found interesting about Carson and her book was the publics (often misogynistic) reaction to her as being "hysterical" and my favorite quote from a board member of the Federal Pest Control Review Board: "I thought she was a spinster. What's she so worried about genetics for?"
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
juliet king
The book "Silent Spring" written by Rachel Carson is a call for mankind to stop destroying our environment and in an indirect way, destroying ourselves. I think this book is perfectly written and exposes good ideas, on thing I disliked about the book is that it was sort of repetitive and didn't explain in a concise for all the information. I think Ms. Carson could have exposed her ideas just as well in much less words. The idea though is good and I say I agree with her in many ways. The book basically explains a series of events in many parts of the world (mostly the US) were the chemical pesticides have failed the purpose of controlling pests, and also most of the times the use of chemical pesticides have backfired and caused more damage than the original pest caused. Also, a chapter or two in the book give possible solutions and directs a path of a new biological warfare against pests. Although this book was written like 50 years ago (approximately) the ideas are pretty contemporary to modern days. I guess human beings haven't learned the lesson yet, and we continue to make the same mistakes over and over. Now I ask, what will it take to make humans stop destroying our world? I fear we will not stop until it's too late, I hope time proves me wrong. Rachel Carson saw this problem and began a revolution against the chemical warfare against pests. Its good to see that as time passes more and more people realize that pesticides are a real danger and that it's not a problem of someone else, but it's a problem of you and me that needs to be solved soon. There's no better time then now, no better place then here; let's change and avoid the use of chemicals in our houses and working areas. If each person contributes a little we can still save the world. We can't change the past but we can still save the past... Dream on
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I read Silent Spring as an assignment for my ecology class and even though I began to read it as an obligation, later on I found huge amounts of interesting data that captured my eye. One example of this data were the multiple effects that pesticides have on humans and their surroundings (including animals, plants, water sources, human genetic material, etc). I never imagined such harmful effects could result from the use of pesticides. Another thing think captures the readers attention is the way Silent Spring is written. It isn't written in such a boring and dense form like an encyclopedia. It is easy to read. It uses both subjective points of view from the author and points of view from scientists and even points of view from affected people. It is a good book, however I is an old book and some of the information is old. The good side about it being an old book is that we can learn from the cases mentioned in it and try not to make the same errors. Rachel Carson's Silent Spring is a book that will make you think and learn that our actions are like boomerangs that in a short or long run will return to us, however most of the times they return with a stronger force. Not being able to catch them they will slap our faces and even more, our whole world.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I am pleased to write this very short review of Carson's book. I have joined an eco reading group in hopes of saving at least two or three of human kind to continue life on this planet. Carson has set the background for what my favorite scientist/writer of the 21st century, Dr. Hulda Clark has dovetailed on. It comes as no surprise that Dr. Clark books which were written starting 1993 were met by the same kind of corporate outcry and government disclaimer as what happened to Rachel Carson. I hope society learns something from how they mistreated Carson and not make the same mistake with Dr. Clark.
I am a strong supporter of Dr. Clark and her protocols for curing/preventing/treating many of the ills,--cancer, hiv/aids and immune system destroying diseases--as Carson fortold in her books some 42 years ago.
Presently, the government is dragging Dr. Clark to court because they do not want her work to be recognized for improving the health of many Americans. I SCREAM FROM THE HIGHEST TOWER THAT HER SCIENCE HAS SAVED MY LIFE AND I AM ETERNALLY GREATFUL.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Silent Spring, written by Rachel Carson was presented to the world half century ago. Although old, this book is a new overview and reflection of the power humans have to destroy. The book does not only give detailed information about each kind of pesticide, but it also presents a general picture of what the world might become if we don't stop the imprudent use of these deadly chemicals. This book set a precedent for modern biologists and ecologists. It also changed the view that mankind had toward the lethal weapons it didn't know how to use. Thanks to the advice and research of Rachel Carson, innovative ways of handling pesticides have been developed and human concern for the environment has been greatly awakened in the last half of the century. This is a magnificient work in which not only information has been recopilated, but also expresses human nature and sense for preserving our only home and partners, the animals.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I read Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring for my science class. As I slowly dragged through each chapter, I found the book to be interesting and very informative. However, I also found it hard to read. I constantly had to put the book down and reach for my dictionary to look up words. The length of the book is another flaw. Silent Spring did not need to be 17 chapters long. She could have gotten her point across in less chapters.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
ekram motawieh
A book about man made chemicals and the effects they have on the earth. A specifici example DDT. She discusses thge destruction of the earth and she wants to create awareness of the problem, and not an attack on people. This book was good but got boring at times. She gets very specific but i feel that it is a book that is necessary for people to read and understand the pesticide problem in the world
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
william myers
Thank you so so much, Ms. Carson! It is you who began the movement to clean our air and water. Any evaluation different from that is ignorance. Ignoring the argument that "the Earth's ecosystem is not fragile," something said only by the most ignorant, we are still in dire need of reform to use of chemicals. Biocides ("pesticides") are still killing our world.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring captures audiences into a world passionate about the environment with her detailed descriptions on the threat of DDT. Carson appeals to the reader's emotions by first describing a calm, undisturbed land. She then illustrates the destruction caused by DDT, short for dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane, and how it affects plant, human, and animal life. Through her delicate balance of emotion vs. science, Rachel Carson proves that scientific theories can be easily understood by the average reader though a book.
Carson's strong scientific background knowledge is evident from the beginning of Silent Spring. The first chapter, "A Fable for Tomorrow," is by far the most powerful and thought provoking chapter in the book. This chapter outlines a fictional town, but the town she describes is easily believed by the reader to be their own. The belief that this poison could harm this simple little town has imprinted the significance of DDT from the start. Her foundation and background were so skillfully laid that the reader is already curious in her ideas and excited to read on.
Carson clearly presents her problem of DDT poisoning in the third chapter. From then on, the idea of DDT is the main idea of all of her chapters, stories, and experimental data. Each chapter lays out a particular theme, such as soil destruction, water poisoning, animal poisoning, and so forth. After these individual ideas are explained, Carson begins to logically tie them together in the middle of the book by explaining each one's role in the food chain.
Rachel Carson is very passionate about her topic of the destruction caused by DDT. Because of this, each chapter is full of reasons why each and every person should be actively involved in the fight against insecticides and poisons. The significance is that she alerts us that each and every plant, animal, and human is at a potential risk for poisoning. She carefully outlines how each are destroyed, have been destroyed, and what we can do to prevent it. The book also uses emotional devices such as story telling and hypothetical situations to draw the reader closer to the topic.
The author's diction and tone is right on target with the average reader's intelligence. She does not include lengthy, scientific words and she explains every abbreviation. She also balances her amount of detail and description with the reader's previous knowledge. Carson includes details that can be understood, and leaves out those that could be misunderstood or complicated. However, to fully grasp the understanding of each chapter, it may be necessary to reread it to fully comprehend the literature.
Rachel Carson's book is filled to the brim with opinions, stories, and warnings, but it is also filled with factual information. With 50 pages of works cited, Carson has not only proved herself, but has proved her information to be reliable and accurate. Her book is a far cry from others that are simply an overabundance of opinion that lack facts. Carson's hard work and dedication have paid off and has created a timeless non-fiction piece that stands the test of time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
van pham
Rachel Carson opens your mind and heart to the misuse of chemicals and how it effects everyone and everything. This book is truly a treasure that everyone should read, not just people concerned with the environment. Very similar to Silent Spring is Don Hutchins', Walking by day, which outlines problems with the environment and how these issues are handled.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jacky faber
When I first read the title of this book, I though about a little girl that would play in this huge garden and a boy who would be in love with her, but as I started to read it, I discovered that my perception was entirely wrong. Silent Spring is one of the most amazing books I have ever read, and I can imagine how the people that lived during the time it was published (1950's), reacted to Rachel Carson's work. This book deals with a big problem that will chase humanity for some time, the problem of hazardous chemicals used as pesticides. Rachel Carson tells us the atrocities that DDT, organophosphates, and other chemicals have done to our environment and our bodies. Rachel Carson explains in her book the composition of these chemicals and the way they affect us. How we continue poisoning the earth and our food. I had never thought of the ecology before or the conservation of our species, but this book changed my view of seeing things.
The warning that Rachel Carson give us in this book is to re-considerate in every step we take, and start thinking for one time only in ourselves. To see the world that surrounds us and learn to live with it. To admire and thank God for the singing of a bird, and to live with the security that we will be able to continue living.
This is a book every person should read so that the world can start making conscience and worrying about the world we live on. Even though it was written some years ago, it is really important and still concern us. We are driving in a very fast highway towards a cliff and unless we slow down, we will not be able to stop ourselves from destroying the life in this planet. This is the best book that describes the horrible effects of mankind's unconsciousness and careless, in the field of chemicals and biology.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mike burrage
I didn't think that this book was very interesting and I didn't think that this book was very dull either. It made me think about some of the current issues of today that deal with pesticides. Rachel Carson talks about how insecticides are sprayed to kill insects, but they not only kill the target insects, but also those that no one wants to kill. Now, in present day, there have been sprayings to get ride of the mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus. I was wondering what other insects/animals we are killing. Even though the West Nile virus is a serious disease, it does not affect the majority of the population. Less then one percent! Is that enough to risk endangerment of hundreds of animals? Or even humans that will come in contact with the insecticides?
Also, she talks about how once pesticides are in the water; it is very hard to get rid of them. This reminded me of a present day issue about the "Frankinfish." They are putting pesticides into the water to try to rid this area of the fish, but are they thinking about the other animals that they are endangering? We are already destroying habitats of animals that we have not even discovered, why do we want to kill more?
All in all, this book made me wonder about how all of this is still relevant to life in the twenty-first century and what we can do to get the results that we want without using harsh chemicals.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
noah pan
I'm sorry but I have to do this. Silent Spring is not the masterpiece that everyone says it is. Yes it might be considered revolutionary FOR THE TIME but reading it today seems compeltely pointless.
Silent Spring is one of the most repetative books I've ever read. The only part where it was interesting was when she went off topic to explain the inner workings of the cell. All 300 pages could literally have been summed up on the front and back of a single sheet of paper. In this day and age, there ARE better ways of becomming aware of polution than putting so much time into such an outdated book.
The entire book is about DDT and how it affects the planet. The point that DDT and other chemicles will turn up in unforseen places if dumped somewhere is hammered into the reader thoughout the whole book. And that's really all there is to say. If you want to learn about polution, go to a more recent and refined resorce.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
zainab shibly
Although this book is considered "fictional" the copy that I read includes many facts that are currently happening including the disappearance of the bees and what actually happened in different locations after spraying with pesticides like DDT and other derivates including ones even much more fatal than DDT. In one instance almost all of the birdlife, as well as other animals including squirrels, rabbits, lamb, cows (etc), got severely ill and many died after pesticides introduced to kill Japenese beetles were air dropped into their community. One thing to keep in mind is that in laboratories scientists test animals before testing humans because animals often suffer similar effects as humans do. Do not think for a minute that humans are so far removed from the rest of the food chain, that they can not suffer major consequences from chemicals in pesticides and herbicides, even if it involves years after the exposure occurred.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This book is a pessimisitic, unflattering view of pesticides and their effects on the world. Rachel Carson seems to drone for a long time about how man is killing the world, only submitting to a positive approach on 15 out of the 300 pages. Despite this overriding negative tone, the book has some very clear strengths. The book activily explores the interlocking connections of our world, connecting life, to soil, to air, to water, and all of them together. She explains those connections by the transfer of pesticides through the environment and food chains, but that concept transfers outside of pesticides too.

Although this book may have some exceedingly pesismistic points to it, it does have historical value, and some strong scientific value.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mark woodland
Rachel Carson did the world a big favor in 1962 by writing this book. To a large extent the world has not listened and still is not listening. Man-made chemicals are very dangerous for not too complicated reasons. All living things are made up of chemical systems that evolved over millions of years. Before man-made chemicals were introduced chemical changes in the environment were very gradual. Now introduced chemicals are very powerful (spoken of in terms such as 3 parts per million) because the biological systems have no previous exposure to these introduced chemicals in the DNA code.

Rarely does a single book alter the course of history, but Carson's "Silent Spring" did that, but not to the extent needed to fully protect the environment. As of 2004 the environment is losing and the chemicals are winning. Rachel Carson's message is now more important than ever. We hope people listen.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
It's hard to imagine that this was the first of its kind - a popular science discussion on why __ is bad for us and what we have to look forward to as its consequences in the 21st century. Isn't it true that most of these books are apocalyptic, if not obviously at least subtly? In this one, Carson warns us against relying on chemicals to treat agricultural bug infestations because as we know today the main chemical used in her time (1950's) was DDT which happens to range from somewhat-deadly to really-deadly to humans and animals. And since we all know this now, why should you read this book anyway? Because the truly alarming thread laced throughout Carson's concerns is the apathy and even the downright refusal of both the government agencies and the money-making public to even acknowledge the existence of a deadly serious problem: "It is human nature to shrug off what may seem to us a vague threat of future disaster." By reading this, you will also learn about the lengths people will go to, to push their agendas at great cost to 'the public', or more directly, people's lives. Her research, which is still very current, and her poignant, fluid language on topics like the explosion of cancer in the western world, make for some thought-provoking reading, whether or not that's particularly your cup of tea.

If you're into dystopian fiction, you would enjoy this book - although you might want to pretend it's just dystopian fiction, instead of the frightening reality of our past, present and sadly probable future. Carson lived from 1907 to 1964, spending her career as a marine biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and writing books about the sea until, knowing of the seriousness of pesticide/chemical usage in the world and the ineffectualness of government regulations to curb it, she felt obliged to write Silent Spring. I would be hard-pressed to believe that there is any other science/nature writer today who knows what they're talking about as much as Carson knew about her subject as presented here. Highly recommended to everyone, ever.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hanz bustamante
Based on the other reviews I read I think some of the readers need a little background information about the author and the book. At the time of her writing she knew the ideas presented in the book were going to be seen as radical, however, she never exaggerated the many facts that she consistently referenced. Today these ideas don't seem radical and the repetition is obvious, but that is only because we have learned from her writings.
The information in this book was purposely repeated several times so that the reader would not forget the importance since these were entirely new ideas and information for the reader. Today the average reader will read this publication from the 60s and think yes you already said that, we already know this. When this book was published though, no one knew any of this, so the consistency of being reminded certain facts was extremely important. Additionally, the extreme criticism and backlash that she received from this writing (which seems to be forgotten today) was not from the average reader who thought this was a bad piece of writing, but rather from companies (and political figures who were financed by them) whose business processes were dependent on certain practices that were extremely harsh to the environment.
A reader mentioned DDT, and yes the use of it is banned in America (along with many other countries), however, it is still being produced (the production and use are regulated differently; not sure where production is banned) and used in some parts of the world (which has an effect on us, no matter where you are) such as Africa, where certain parts suffer extremely from malaria. There is an ongoing debate as to whether DDT should be used or not used in these areas. There are several informational web sites on either side of the topic.
Another reader wanted an updated version, which I think would be great. It would be very impressive if someone today could write another book about environmental conditions and would be yet another wake-up call that would produce a new mindset on our environment. A book of this caliber is definitely overdue.
Rachel Carson died 2 years after publication of this book in 1964 from breast cancer.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rhonda white
Our environment is affected by everything that we do. We have the tendency to cut out the things that can be good for our environment but might be ecstatically pleasing to the eye or we don't understand their function within the environment. Since the industrial revolution, we have put more toxins into the our environment and used them to cut out these inconveniencies. It was only until 1962 when Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring that these poisons were even looked into with much scrutiny. This brought the environmental revolution where the people wanted these toxins to be controlled or, more hopefully, eliminated from use.
Within Carson's book, the author describes how everything is connected and affected by each other. Our system has been abused by our need to make things more convenient like less gnats on lake water or less weeds within our lawns or on the roadside. The poisons used, like DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), caused catastrophe within all systems of the environment. This toxin affects and kills everything it comes in contact with, manipulating even the molecular level. All in all, creating an environment that we thought would be better into something that will take years to recuperate from. We have made our environment into something ugly when it should be good.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
louise freeman
Silent Spring, written by Rachel Carson, is an apparently omitted advise of a future that has reached us. Even though it was written some years ago its importance has yet continued and it has become a classic. Most people related, and not related, but that are concerned on nature and its endangerment have read this book. As an example myself, an Ecology student that has been asinged to read it.
The style on which is written appeals for reading. However, what makes people like Silent Spring is the topic of it, unknown for many at that time, but a reality for all of us on modern days. Even when I liked the book, I only rate it with four stars because in some cases, in fact in only few cases, the descriptions on the specific examples were too detailed. This was not a terrible mistake, but still it makes it a little boring if you want to read it on a certain time, in fact you need to be on a certain mood to read, lets say fifty pages of it.
This book is to be written on a slow way, not because it is difficult to comprehend, but because in that way you may relate it to what happens these days. Its kind of amazing that most problems described in the book are still present issues, and some even have been getting worse. Rachel Carson had a very accurate view of the consequences that problems that time would bring to our days, it's a shame her many people thought she was exaggerating.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Carson wrote forcefully about topics that were completely 'under the radar' in the late 1950s and early 1960s, especially in regard to bioaccumulation and anthropogenic impacts across wide ecological areas. Silent Spring is far more than a discussion of specific harms, such as organophosphates or DDT, it is a popular exposition of effects at a distance, of social responsibility, and environmental stewardship. She remains a powerful voice for public science, and of science in the public interest.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ibrahim ashamallah
The legacy of Rachel Carson's famous work is living on today and is still the nemesis of the chemical industry. It appears that a few chemical snake-oil pushers and/or their apologists have been leaving bad reviews amongst the mostly glowing reviews, confirming the success and timeless message of Carson's work long after her passing in 1964.

Indeed, *Silent Spring* is still one of the most referenced works when it comes to environment and chemical contamination of the environment. One will understand why after reading this monumental achievement.

Ms Carson's work put environment and ecology squarely into our collective consciousness and part of that success is owed, inadvertently, to the chemical manufacturers who ruthlessly attacked her as a person and the integrity of her work. She was called before congress to testify about the dangers of pesticide/herbicide use and to prove her work while simultaneously being challenged by scientists and chemical manufacturer representatives.

The outcome was that chemicals such as DDT, which were wiping-out non-targeted life forms such as the Bald Eagle, were eventually banned from use in the U.S.

The controversy over pesticide use stirred-up another important issue and that was the chemical manufacturers insidious influence of university-level research. Manufacturers have always funded university research with rich grants for which they expect data to support their products success in the market-place. Researchers are often coerced by threat of loosing funding or their credibility challenged if their findings are not favorable to industry. Unfortunately, a few of those researchers are gladly willing to take part in this nefarious pseudo-science and seem not to loose any sleep over it.

After the backlash of government and public outcry caused by Ms Carson`s efforts, chemical manufacturers to this day think twice before attempting to publicly defame decent/honest chemical detractors, indeed, the possibility of being exposed by the dreaded "Silent Spring Syndrome" haunts them in a poetic gesture to the memory and work of Rachel Carson.

After Ms Carson's exhaustive studies and field work, where the damage of pesticides and herbicides showed their insidious bad habits of spreading beyond target areas, polluting and disrupting biomes, her clear message to the public was simply stated:

"Now at last, as it has become apparent that the heedless and unrestrained use of chemicals is a greater menace to ourselves than to the targets (bugs), the river which is the science of biotic control flows again, fed by new streams of thought." (p 279) Indeed!

Carson's legacy is enhanced by a host of dedicated people who keep her work not only referenced, but updated and disseminated through such beautiful books as: Sandra Steingraber's "Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment" and for empathy and understanding of the insect world, there is Joanne E. Lauck's "The Voice of the Infinite in the Small: Re-visioning the Insect-Human Connection".

In 1964, and after Ms Carson died, Robert L. Rudd, a zoologist and expert on the dangers pesticides, published his
study: "Pesticides and the Living Landscape". This work underscored and corraberated the importance Ms Carson's work and showed that many scientists could not be bought or intimidated by the chemical companies.

The sad irony of the chemical manufacturer's dangerous assault on insects is that all bugs have a purpose, but then so do the chemical companies: to make a ton of money selling insanity to an unwitting and uneducated public. This constitutes one of the most irresponsible and insidious snake-oil scams in history.

To learn more about Rachel Carson's legacy and resources for action, go to: [...] and the Racel Carson Council: [...]
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book opened my eyes to a world of "icides" (pesticiedes, herbicides, etc.)that I now know I had only marginal knowledge of. The damage on our own race as well as to the earth that supports us only shows our disconnectedness from the land on which we live. To realize we (the US) treated these new chemicals and technology with such fleeting thoughts and without significant study truly makes one wonder about emerging technologies of today, and what types of unseen impacts we will find down the road. Certainly we have learned from our past....we hope. But as the saying goes: history is bound to reapeat itself, if not in exactness, certainly in concept. I have recently ordered "Silent Spring Revisited" in hopes of seeing the resulting regulatory and policy changes that Carsons book invoked.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andrew sullivan
Important to have read because of its place in launching awareness of unbridled reliance on chemicals as curealls for "undesirable" insects, plants and animals. From this pivotal work, proceed to biographies of Rachel Carson and critical analyses by scientists in "50-years after" retrospectives.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
vito delsante
Carson foretells the future in this book. Scientific theoryis introduced without being boorish or cumbersome.This is a book that can be appreciated on a lasy Sunday or as reading requirnment for an Environmental Science class. No person at all interested in the environment should miss this treasure!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
martine liberman
It's impossible to properly judge this book today because it's 40+ years old and we are responding to it from a completely different mindset than was prevalent then.
So many have now grown up with Silent Spring's ideas for 40+ years now, that she is mostly "preaching to the choir" . They accept her ideas, but so what? They're the choir, they were brought up to accept them, and it's no surprise.
Contrariwise, there are reactionaries who didn't accept her ideas then and won't accept them now. So, with everyone's mind already set, current reviews mean little.

What does matter is what this book DID 40 years ago: it turned the world on its head because then no one was an environmentalist, and now most are, and this one book was the single most important seed for that change.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
john adams
Suppose an individual is in a time machine that is stopped during the period of the release of Carson's book "Silent Spring." The environment is headed in a downward spiral, and any voice that speaks out against new methods of chemically destroying pests is suppressed by the strength of the government and its scientists. But in this moment, Carson defies the odds and strikes against these giant foes by releasing her literary arsenal upon the scientists and their chemical pesticides. By using specific examples, overwhelming amounts of facts, and well thought out scenarios, "Silent Spring" powerfully assaults the use of chemical pesticides on farms in the world.
Carson, one who had her M.A. in zoology and was chief editor for all publications of the United States Fish and Wildlife Services, was the perfect individual to speak out against pesticides such as DDT in this "David and Goliath" match-up. Carson begins her book by playing out a scenario, one that could have occurred if the effects of DDT had not been exposed. By using vivid diction and a foreboding tone, Carson effectively portrays to her worldwide audience the horrifying effects that some chemical pesticides have on the environment. Carson then breaks the book down into sections that give specific examples of chemical pesticides harming nature, and then produces many facts and figures related to the use of these chemical pesticides. She also goes on to offer possible solutions to the problem, and gives possible outcomes in a manner that reflects Robert Frost's work "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening." She explains that the road "less traveled by" is the one that consists of a pesticide free world, where nature can continue to grow and expand. She explains the well-beaten path as the one that may be easy at that time, but would eventually lead to death and destruction in the world. This very powerful comparison helps to strike fear into the hearts of people in the world, which helped to create an outcry against DDT and other harmful chemical pesticides.
This very inspirational work was one of the main reasons that harmful chemical pesticides such as DDT were removed from farms all around the world. Her work just may have saved the world from almost certain natural destruction. Individuals all around the world owe Rachel Carson a great debt for her efforts in writing this book. Thank you, Rachel Louise Carson.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
karen wade
This book was well written and researched, we also decided that we would never read this on our own. We found it extremely repetitive. Each chapters said the same thing over and over. It always talked about how we should use natures checks instead of controling with nature. It also mentions foreign insects a lot, one example being the Japanese beetle. The book also made us very aware and scared about the effects. It made us realize the dangers of these chemicals. People can get cancer from these sprays,leukemia being one of them. It made us want to keep up to date on what was going on in the world with pesticides.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Too many people who read Carson's book dismiss her work because it was published, afterall, in 1962. We Americans like to think that these problems have been solved, these chemicals eradicated. But they have not. DDT is banned from domestic use in the US because of Silent Spring, but it is still produced -only now it is just sold to other countries for use. Think of that. Where do your fruits and veggies come from? And an alarming number of chemicals Carson names are still perfectly legal (and toxic) in the US today.

It is true that Carson made some factual mistakes, but they were not made out of ignorance or a willingness to mislead. They were made because scientists now (thanks to Carson) have studied the subject more in-depth and have greater knowledge about the effects. And Carson got a disturbing number of facts correct. Anyone who labels this book "junk science" is clearly not paying attention. 50 pages of meticulous notes, and a manuscript signed off on by several of the time's top ecologists and biologists. Carson's book did the best it could in the situation and for the time.

This is an important book because the American public needs to be reawakened to these problems. Too many of us do feel many changes have been made, when in reality, we lag far behind places like Western Europe. The reality is: We live in a toxic world. I think everyone needs Carson to remind them of that.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring is an influential book which should be read by all who ant a thorough explanation of the effects that chemicals have on the natural world and on humans. Carson's work was convicting in her time and continues to be today. Her writing is creative and passionate, backed with numerous scientific examples to support her arguments. Because she describes the science behind the toxins in a way that the general public can understand, her message is able to reach so many more people than if it were written only for the scientific community. For this reason, I consider Rachel Carson to be a true hero.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
monique orchard
This book is crucial for those who have any interest in environmental health and biology and I would highly recommend it for those people. However, the book can be dull at times. If you muddle through those parts, it gets better. The last chapter, on alternatives to chemical control of pests and weeds, is the most interesting and practical. Another problem with the book is that Rachel Carson often uses overly sensational wording to convey the threat from widespread use of chemicals. She was clearly on a mission. The final flaw I found with the book is some logical errors in her arguments. If you can overlook those relatively minor points, it is very worth reading. The book is extremely well researched and provides a wealth of information. I highly recommend this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anoop singh
I found myself transfixed by Carson's language and her arguments. Few works of non-fiction contain the pure poetry of prose that this one does. Although I don't agree with everything Carson discusses, I do see why the book has held up as an important cry for greater conservation.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alex jaffe
I love this book. Mostly because of its beauty and poignancy in its ability to make true science and ecology accessible to the average reader.

Unfortunantly, this book has also been used, and misused, by both sides of the environmentalist movement to justify there rather flawed beliefs.

You see, because of the wide ban of DDT, the death rate of malaria has grown tremendously over the past 40+ years. The reason is because uninformed individuals misunderstand the purpose behind the book. Carson's concern was the use of DDT for AGRICULTURAL purposes, NOT health care purposes.

Unfortunantly, social conservatives have used this rather unfortunante and tragic mistake from the environmentalist movement as ammo against the environmentalist movement as a whole, using a gross and unfair generalization that is just as tragic as the millions who have died from malaria due to the irresponsible and uninformed DDT regulations in our country.

Be smart, be open minded, be knowledgeable, and THEN read this book, and its true purpose and beauty will eventually come to you quite easily, and you will be informed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sara elmahdy
Many people are accusing this book for causing deaths in places like Africa from malaria. They aren't paying attention to what this book is trying to say. She may have said several times that DDT is dangerous, and should not be used, but she also mentioned how quickly these insects are going to evolve and adapt to it. It will not stay poisonous to them forever. Once they have adapted to it malaria will once again be a problem, and our environment will be hurt. This world is meant for many different organisms to live on. We should try our best not to interupt the cycle of nature, because we too make up a small part of nature. I thionk it is time we start thinking about every animal that will be affected, and what might happen in the long run. Please people, think seriously about this situation, don't continue on the same path of ignorance and greed!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Silent Spring is a book that has been read by many people and is written by Rachel Carson. In this book she writes about the disturbances that had been created in nature, and almost all of them created by humans. The use of pesticides has been a terrible damage to animals, plants, and even persons, as a result, in the time where this was seriously happening, like about in the 1960's, there was a huge decline in some of out beautiness of our nature, as birds and other animals that ineract with each other. Rachel Carson wrote this book so everybody could see how those pesticides or chemicals were destroying our environment and for people to realize what we need to think before we destroy our place, and for companies to rebuild an idea of what they're making. Silent Spring talks about an specific pesticide that was the first originated and that caused a lot of damage, panic, and troubleness among people and species, that was the use od DDT, this was a phenomenom that wasn't easily to get rid off and to fins s solution to the long effects that caused, such as the different diseases in persons, etc. I think that Silent Spring is an interesting book that students in high school should read, if interested, to realize what were the views over 30 years ago, and that we now can still see them, of the damage in the environment and the species in general.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
michael l
Silent Springs must be recognized as Rachel Carson's best work. Also, it's the greatest piece of writing that narrates pesticide problems throughout time. It must be said that for some people, the reading content might be heavy and tedious. Still, its filled with interesting and shocking facts and stories. Reading this book really makes you think about questions like:" Can a single person really make a difference by him/herself?" People do not imagine that pesticides have been around for so long. Also, they aren't aware of the serious damage they cause nature as well as humans. I suggest this book be used as a text book in schools. This way, children will get an insight of the danger of pesticides, and will be more interested in nature as adults.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jessica harby
The value of this book, more than 40 years after it was published, is not what it tells us about DDT. Regardless of whether or not you think DDT causes cancer in humans, we don't have it to kick around anymore -- DDT is effectively outside the zone of reasonable environmental policy debate. Instead, focus on what Silent Spring tells us about the interconnectedness of nature, the unintended consequences of our attempts to control it, and the forces that might be trying to deny those consequences exist. Those are lessons that apply not just to DDT but to industrial agriculture, genetically modified organisms, and other more current topics. This is a very insightful book, even for 2005.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
denisse haz
Yes, the book brought environmentalism into the light, and people started to care more about nature. But I also believe that DDT is not a harmful chemical, and that the ban on it should be lifted to save lives. The book isn't militant in its environmentalist themes- it does not aim for us to go back to nature, or to even have animals' needs fulfilled first. She implies that human life is, indeed, more important, and that humans come first. The aims of her book often concern the misuse of DDT, and the usage of actually deadly poisons.
The book should not be heralded entirely for its scientific value (which is minimal). Instead, one should point out that this book is poetic, and well-written. It also stand as a testament to the power of literature, and the influence that words have on people.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sreejith ms
This monumental classic was at the forefront of the enviremental movement. This is the book that for the 1st time make the public aware of the devastating effects of poisens on the envirement and ultimately, us. The most significent study of the balance of nature and how man is destroying it, especially with chemistry. Rachel Carson, a biologist who spent 4 1/2 years gathering data, explains in laymans terms how we are poisening the atmosphere. A prelude to 'Global Warming'.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
hank porter
In 1962, while still in college, I received, as a member of the Book-of-the-Month Club, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Company, c. 1962). It opened my eyes to something I'd never considered: environmental destruction. It made me, rather abruptly, an environmentalist! I decided to re-read Silent Spring, and coincidentally noticed a remark in a magazine saying no one actually reads Carson's book these days. In part this is due to the fact that many of her "scientific" assertions never had merit. Indeed, her alarms regarding DDT, leading to its banning (and the resultant deaths of millions of Africans), amount to one of the great tragedies of the past century.
Carson launched her work with a quotation from Albert Schweitzer: "Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth." That's her fear. She herself was losing a battle with the cancer which killed her when she wrote the book, and she feared the earth, as well as she, might die, poisoned by pesticides. She feared the chemical flood we've unleashed since WWII might overwhelm the delicate biological networks which sustain life on earth. "The most alarming of all man's assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. This pollution is for the most part irrecoverable; the chain of evil it initiates not only in the world that must support life but in living tissues is for the most part irreversible" (p. 6).
We've done this, Carson argued, primarily to eliminate a few alleged "pests"--insects and weeds which annoy us. In fact, few of these "pests" pose significant threat to human survival or welfare, and in our effort to eliminate them we failed to understand three important facts: 1) the insects and weeds we try to destroy rapidly adapt to the poisons and thenceforth prove even graver threats; 2) the broadside spraying of chemicals kills good as well as bad creatures--thus the natural predators which kept populations balanced were often wiped out along with pollinating insects like bees which are necessary for plant life; 3) poisonous substances, such as DDT and DDD, though initially applied in small amounts, concentrate as they move up the food chain and remain permanently imbedded in certain tissues (fatty tissues in mammals, for example).
Carson described the kinds of chemicals (she calls them biocides) which are most widely used in pesticides and herbicides, enabling non-scientists like myself to comprehend their composition and lethal power. Then she illustrates how these chemicals, mainly used in agriculture, flow into surface waters and leech into ground water. We're increasingly aware of water shortages, legal water wars between states such as Arizona and California, and poor water quality. I suspect Carson's still accurate in saying: "In the entire water-pollution problem, there is probably nothing more disturbing than the threat of widespread contamination of groundwater" (p. 42).
She illustrates the crisis with the case of Clear Lake, California, 90 miles north of San Francisco. A good lake for fishing, it was also plagued by a gnat, annoying but not harmful to humans. In the late 1940's, DDD was applied at a ratio of one part per 70 million parts of water. The gnats quickly recovered, however, so in 1954 another spraying was done, this time at the ratio of one part per 50 million, followed by a third application in three years. Some noticed that many of the western (or swan) grebe began dying, and fatty tissues in the birds were found to contain 1600 parts per million of the poison. By 1960, of the original 1000 pairs of nesting grebe, only 30 remained. The gnats endured, as much a nuisance as ever; the birds, however, perished.
"Silent spring," of course warns of the disappearance of birds like the grebe. Massive amounts of herbicides and pesticides have been applied, unsuccessfully trying to deal with problems such as Dutch Elm Disease, only to end up killing songbirds such as robins. Dumped into streams and rivers, such "biocides" kill fish. And, ultimately, they also kill men and women who eat the fish. Carson explains, with consummate literary skill, the life of cells and the oxidizing wonders of tiny mitochondria within them, showing how they sustain life. Toxic chemicals, however, interrupt normal cell life and provoke abnormal reactions and growth.
Much has changed since Carson published her treatise. Savagely attacked at first, her agenda, if not her research, has succeeded. Her concerns have encouraged others to continue her work, and toxics are no longer used as recklessly as they were in her time. This book endures as more of a classic literary work than a scientific work, a book which will be read in coming generations because it alerted us to a momentous problem and illustrated how science can be written so as to engage the popular mind.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
peggy logue
Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" was the impetus that brought about the environmental movement as we know it today. Her unparalleled research, during 1962, exposed and condemned the use of DDT and ADT as forms of chemical pesticides and insecticides. The book provides shocking evidence and anecdotes of the affects of contamination, which often lead to death. Her stories and evidence was shocking because it not only opened the eyes of millions Americans to the carcinogens they were eating daily, but it opened up an entirely different area of environmental science. No long was it limited to preservation, such as the Sierra Club, but now the idea that humans have a negative impact on the environment.

I believe Carson wrote this book as a wake up call to the American Public. After observing a "Silent Spring", in which no birds chirped or bugs buzzed, she dug deeper into the extent at which these chemicals were being used. She was compelled to do research and write this book because she wanted people to know what havoc these chemicals were having on the earth.

If you are interested in environmental science I feel this book is a great tool for learning where environmental history begins, a lot of it begins with this book. If Carson hadn't written this book, then the use of DDT and ADT would still be in effect today. That thought alone would provide us with a much different future, in both a negative and positive light, because while DDT and ADT were bad, we have to this day, not found equivalent replacements that are as effective.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
elaine porteous
Never purchased this item
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Rachel Carson has led the way, - amazing! She has pointed out those same problems, that are still haunting us.
What a labor of love - this minute study of pesticides and their destructive impact on the environment!
Have we really listened?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
michael sheppard
rachel carson's book, Silent Spring was and is a true classic. That book was the first one to bring the dangers of wreckless utilization of technology to light. The information in the bok is sound. The style of writing is not so academic, that it puts a person to sleep. Stylistically and academically, Rachel states the reasons for using pesticides, the hazardous effects of using pesticides and solutions to using those chemicals. This was truly a book that started the environmentalism movement in America much like Ralph Nader's book, Unsafe at Any Speed started the automobile safety movement in the U.S. Much of the information is still relevant today even though the book is has been published for 38 years. The book is a great book even though the pundants of that era did not give it an award.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mollie glick
This book is full of information that I had no clue about!! I think that everyone should read it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring is good in its factual reference Although it is very informative, to some it may seem boring. This book is very long and almost too informative. Overall it is good because it shows the actual harms of the different insecticides on human and animal populations. Also it is a good way to inform people of the long term effects of these harmful chemicals.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
morgan tigerman
I was disappointed to say the least of some of the following reviews of Silent Spring. It is no wonder that our earth is being so abused. Yes, Virginia, there is an environmental problem. Unfortunately, it is undeniable. The earth IS fragile (God-created or not), chemicals DO persist in the environment, and we "environmentalists" are NOT Marxists.
You see, the significance of Rachel Carson's book was not its scientific accuracy, nor the position it took on DDT. Its significance was that it helped to turn national, even global, consiousness in a different direction. Suddenly we were not the only species on the planet. The steps we take to improve ourselves actually have an impact on the rest of the world...on our own environment. Everyday we make compromises. Ban pesticides, eat a hamburger. Both have significant impacts on the health and hunger of those less fortunate. We help one, we hurt another, whether individuals, businesses, species, or nations. There are few easy ways out. With our tendency to ignore long-term consequences, both negative and positive, it is easy to argue forcibly against such activists as Rachel Carson. Short-term results are nearly absent when we seriously consider securing the future of the earth.
But shouldn't this security be a universal goal?
So read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and be moved as she feels the groanings of the earth and speaks out on their behalf. Thank you, Rachel, for having that courage, for opening that door.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elizabeth scott
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring is a book primarily concerning environmental issues, past and present. Her book is a must read for anyone who has a concern for the environment and the wonders the biosphere has to offer us. She talks about the diversity of life and the intricate differentiations in organisms, and what harm is becoming them.

Personally, I think Rachel Carson's novel is very pertinent in today's society even though it was first published in the 1960s. I think we still have too much environmental ignorance today, and a few examples would be the many chemicals we are pumping into our biosphere. Carson stresses on the fact that we are using numerous pesticides on plants, yet they affect all of the organisms around them.

Some people would consider this book to be a tofu eating, tree hugger's book, but I dissent. I think that this novel is relevant to anyone, and it will give the reader realizations on just what is causing the problems within our environment. This insight is perfect for today's modern, industrious world. Occasionally we forget the bigger picture, and mankind does things that they would be better off not doing to our Earth.

Some may also say that Carson's novel is too repetitive. I think that she stresses on pesticides and harmful chemicals because they do harm our ecosystems. Someone who is not concerned with environmental issues may disagree that these chemicals have a harmful nature and grow crops using "biocides" regardless. In the end, when we think we are just affecting insects, we are hurting other organisms and ourselves.

If you happen to be the type of person that wants to learn about why things go horribly wrong in our biosphere, I would strongly recommend this book. However, if you cannot bear to listen to our own fate if we do not do something about harmful chemicals, I would not recommend this book.

To quote from one of Rachel Carson's key lines in her novel, "No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it to themselves." It may sound extremist but life, as we know it, will change if we do not take action ourselves and learn from previous mistakes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julie fuller
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was a landmark book at the time and sparked an entire generation's interest in environmental care and issues. Former US President had the claims made in the book investigated by his Science Advisory Committee which vindicated her claims and led to the immediate strengthening of chemical pesticide regulations. If you are looking to read one of the most influential books on environmental protection, this is one of the earliest, as well as one of the most renowned and popular. It is often cited and recommended in Environmental Issues classes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ijeoma ijere
This book should be mandatory reading in all high schools. The issues identified decades ago are even more relevant today. This author made a major contribution to the world before her death. Now it is up to us to heed her early warning call.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
debbie sladek
very captivating and well written
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
obladi oblada
Some books so pervade the American consciousness that its easy to feel you know them well without reading a single page. Silent Spring is such a book. Its name has been bandied about so frequently for so long, its easy to assume there's nothing new to learn from it. That assumption is mistaken. Its no great exaggeration to say that this book reshaped the American landscape and, eventually, the world. There is a reason: Silent Spring is lucid, eloquent and powerful. If the information is somewhat dated, the inspiration isn't. Read this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
shana negin
Thanks to Racheal Carson for an important book.
The guy below who wrote: "Please! Don't be mislead., June 18, 2002" is obviously a selfish republican. Well, prove me wrong! I'm sure he is! Poison the earth for our own selfish benefit, use it's resources until it's dry, and who gives a damn about the millions of other species inhabiting this planet and the planet itself. All that matters is us Humans. I'm so sick of this self-centered egotistical attitude I could spit (at people like him)!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
yara eisa
When I picked up Silent Spring in 1995 I was hooked from the first few pages. Here was a lady way before her time. She writes intelligently and fluently. When I read Rachel Carson I get lost in her world of woods, coast, or sea.
Under the sea was the next book, and am still mezmerized by the "great abyss". For the first time I really wanted to know what was down there, in the deep, black sea. I believe Silent Spring should be a must read for all nature lovers, but more importantly for those who aren't.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jordan weinstein
A must read for everyone.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This book's greatness varies by how you approach it. If you are looking for a thick, heavy load of information, statistics, and facts on the destructiveness of pesticides, then go for it, you will enjoy the book. But if you want a story, try something else a little lighter.

Rachel Carson does make a very important and serious point that isn't presented this well anywhere else I have seen. If you are interested in the topic of environmental conservation, then you will enjoy the book. Overall I think it was worth the read; for some, it could get dull.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
As I finished reading this book and watched the lawncare guy across the street spreading chemical fertilizer and pesticide indescriminantly on lawn, sidewalk and in the street, I thought that we haven't changed all that much from the 50s.

Thank you, Rachel Carson, for speaking out but we must all still make sure people hear her! Great book, esp. for the new generations.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
With this comedy masterpiece, Rachel Carson launched a thorough and successful assault on pesticides commonly used in agriculture. After nearly 45 years, DDT is no longer used. Every organism on the planet has what was once considered a lethal quantity of it in its cells and the human ones are still alive to whine about the worms in their raspberries.

Should you read this book? Yes. It's a thought-provoking indictment, and, like The Jungle 60 years before it, helped shape the world in which we now live. I only wish that all you young, unshaven tree-huggers would understand that panic-peddling is a business just like everything else. Some want to sell you books, others "organic" fruit and others still want to ride panic where politics failed them like a certain secretary of vice presidency or whatever it was Gore did in the 90s.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
colette madison
I found Silent Spring to be monotonous and depressing. Carson's 355 page book is filled with 17 different chapters, with the last 59 pages dedicated to footnotes. She draws the reader in, at first, with painting a beautiful countryside, then destroying it. She calls her short story "A Fable for Tomorrow", and then backs up the horror by telling us all the different maladies that overcame her perfect town actually happened in reality.

However, this haunting beginning is followed by a two chapters ("The Obligation to Endure" and "Elixirs of Death") that merely describe what poisons we use and why. They are morbidly interesting, since she follows up each deathly "elixir" with a more potent, more frightening one, up to the most deadly of them all, endrin, which can be up to 300 times more poisonous as DDT to some birds.

Now that the reader has a who's who of poisons, Carson then moves on through the next 6 chapters to show us their effect in water ("Surface Waters and Underground Seas"), soil ("Realms of the Soil"), plants ("The Earth's Green Mantle"), wildlife ("Needless Havoc"), birds ("And No Birds Sing"), and fish ("Rivers of Death"). With each chapter, she shows us a picture of how life was before the pesticides, and then tells us the story of how it was destroyed. She lists example after example of life wilting before the toxins. Birds are found trembling or dead, fish are eradicated from major rivers for miles and miles. I found it to be extremely depressing at first, then, after several chapters, it became numbing and monotonous. I hear about so much death, so many losses, the only comfort I have is to know that laws prohibit the same flow of toxins into our environment, through it is a naiveté that is quickly dissipating. But I digress.

Chapter 10, "Indiscriminately from the Skies", details the effects and cost of aerial spraying with pesticides. The next four chapters ("Beyond the Dreams of the Borgias", "The Human Price", "Through a Narrow Window", and "One in Every Four".) explain the effect of pesticides on humans. The last of the four is upsetting, to say the least. The title is an estimation of how many people will develop cancer, and quotes the American Cancer society in predicting that it will strike two out of every three families. It is within this chapter Carson blames DDT for being a carcinogen.

And just when things seemed they could not get worse, Carson throws two last, depressing chapters at us. "Nature Fights Back" and "The Rumblings of an Avalanche" describe how the pesticides we use today are becoming ineffective as insects adapt, evolve, and resist our battles, and come back stronger than before, now that their predators are poisoned to eradication. This unfortunately results in the use of more powerful chemicals, and then, in time, the cycle repeats itself and even more powerful chemicals are required.

In her last chapter, "The Other Road", Carson gives us a solution. Through sterilization methods, lures, repellants, venoms, bacterial diseases, and biological control (importing their natural enemies), insects can be controlled continuously, and, she adds, some pesticide control is not out of order now and then.

Though Carson's style of writing did not change throughout the book, I found the facts haunting, and understand how this book may have been the stone that started the avalanche that changed how people look at a tree, a forest, and the world.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
brenda delgado gallagher
The title explains it all. I needed to read this book for my biology class and it took me a month to get over the first quater of the book! I usually devour my books in a day, but I couldn't read a page of this book without having to reread it because I my mind wandered with reading it. This is the kind of book that most students will read, but not really READ the book, unless they are truly, TRULY into the subject. So to all the biology and english teachers, spare your students!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
karen salem
When Silent Spring was first published I was a young chemist working for a chemical company in Philadelphia. I remember well how she was engaged in a TV debate with one of the big guns from one of the major manufacturers of insecticides. I thought she handled herself very well then and for the remainder of her life while she endured withering attacks from vested interests and people who want to live in a dream world. To the people who say she caused the deaths of millions because she stopped the use of DDT, you didn't read the book! Mosquito resistance to DDT is easily developed and its continued use will lead to mosquitos of greater resistance. It may be true there are application methods for DDT that are relatively safe for protection against various mosquito borne diseases but she did not cause them to be outlawed. Even though the Government screws up often,it does ocasionally makes fact based decisions that are correct. If DDT is outlawed, it is because the facts dictate it, not Rachel Carson.

For those misinformed souls who think DDT is not toxic, you lie or you have been lied to. Just goggle "DDT toxicity" and you will find out what a danger this chemical really is.

Her science is sound. After 44 years, her book is still worth a read. Much progress has been made to protect our environment. This book has played an important part in making this happen.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
azara singh
What can I say? Well... brilliant, excellent - & important - for starters. This book is not a book you borrow from the library, this is a book you set aside [price] for & you own. Quite simply: it's an essential read. If you have [price] to spare don't spend it on cigarettes, candy, cosmetics, or anything other non-essentials/luxuries you regularly indulge in, this once spend the money on a copy of this book. Or buy it for someone else. It is fantastic.
And join a grassroots, non-government, environmental organization!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alisa vershinina
Silent Spring - Rachel Carson (40th Anniversary Edition)

It was finally time for me to pick up the book that is often credited with inspiring or starting the modern environmental movement. I'd heard of Silent Spring many times from environmental speakers and had seen it referenced in The Ecology of Commerce and in Megatrends 2010 (see other reviews). The title has lost nothing of its timeliness or relevance with the passage of more than 40 years since its first printing. To that point, First Mariner Books published a 40th Anniversary Edition with introduction and afterword by Linda Lear and Edward O. Wilson, respectively, that place the book and author in historical context and give credit for the impact both have had on our world.

I want to first of all give the author praise for being much more balanced and far-seeing in her thinking than any of the detractors whose reviews I've read on the store would hint at. The main charge post-humously leveled is that rampant unthinking DDT (or worse) use would have saved lives lost to malaria had it not been for one woman writing a slanderous attack on the petrochem industry whose only apparent reason for being is to improve life. Rachel Carson's prose may have been very eloquent, pursuasive and moving but she was not advocating an extreme or unthinking position. Whereas she may have been extremely passionate about the need to make changes in the spray away mindset of the day, she did not call for throwing away what science could contribute to public health and well-being or even economic productivity. Quite the contrary, based on an ecological mindset and a commitment to understand nature and work with her, Carson encouraged exploring biologically wise means to control pests that thrive in a bio-defense impoverished monoculture. She cited figures and facts on successful pioneering integrated pest management programs and made a cost-benefit analysis that set the balance right.

I may have majored in Economics, but I'll gladly take my science from scientists like Rachel Carson rather than the PR department of a chemical firm with a vested interest in selling a "silver bullet" that has to be reapplied year after year in greater amounts. Carson makes an ironclad case for the dangers of bioaccumulation of toxins in the food chain (yeah and guess who's at the top), the ill-targetted dispersal methods, insect resistance due to extremely short reproduction cycles and the mutagenic qualities of many of the new wave of pesticides. She lays out her arguments in such clear language and with sufficient analogies and background that a layman can easily follow and be more conversant in the concepts of the subject matter. The other criticism of the book by detractors' reviews is that there are "too many facts" referenced in it - I don't think these readers have any sense for the time period that Rachel Carson was writing in and the need for a woman, an outsider, to make damn sure that she lined up all the facts she could behind her case so as to not just be dismissed ad hominem when raising concern about how the men in the white coats were wisley dragging us down the wrong path.

What's with all the wingnuts claiming that Carson is responsible for millions of malaria deaths by banning DDT? Nice Limbaughesque talking point, but as often, WAY OFF TARGET. The main thrust of the book is against agricultural pesticides where the damage caused by the target pest is economically less significant than the collateral damage of control efforts to the environment and human well-being. The reference to mosquito control in the actual book these buffoons claim to be reviewing is 1). a warning on mosquito resistance, 2). risk of wiping out the mosquitos natural predators with indiscrimminate control strategies (Nissan Island WWII), 3).exploring other more targetted control measures such as ultrasound.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
intelligent book, but man its tough to get through sometimes
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
allison casey
On of the most influential books ever written in the world. Also one of the best written of all non fiction books.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ovunc tarakcioglu
This book is for a college semester.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
chris watschke
As an entomologist I would like to clarify what I have seen in some of the prior reviews. I would also like future readers of this book to understand that it was written in 1962. It's important to understand what Rachel Carson's book was trying to do. She had to make an impact to millions of readers, and do so in layman's terms. That was a near insurmountable task, especially the way in which women in science were treated during that era.
I do agree with others in that some of her statements are based on shaky evidence. However, I don't agree that see is responsible for thousands of deaths due to malaria. Diseases have existed for THOUSANDS OF YEARS, and all animals have had to deal with it, including humans. For example, humans with sickle cell anemia are immune to malaria.
It is easy for someone in America to say that DDT should not be used in Africa to fight disease, because we don't have to deal with the thousands of people dying every day. Perhaps DDT can be used in more precise applications to cut down on mosquitos (which are the vectors or carriers of the disease). However, malaria and other autochthonous diseases in Africa can be dealt with by means other than DDT, and thanks to Rachel Carson, funding for research into areas such as creating transgenic mosquitos is a reality. Someday we may have the ability to eraticate malaria, and credit would undoubted have to partly go to her.
The issue of the safety of DDT has been mentioned in many of these reviews, and the truth is NO ONE IS RIGHT! There has been almost no testing into the safety of DDT, so it's impossible for anyone to say that it's safe or dangerous (to humans). A famous toxicologist once said, "The poison is the dose". The big problem with DDT is that it biomagnifies and is fat soluble; in other words gets easily passed through the food chain and increases consequently in concentration while been stored in fats. So basically, that "dose" increases and increases and can more easily damage organisms. But again, not a lot of scientific research has been done in this subject, so I wouldn't say anything about DDT other than a my own hypothesis.
In summary, read this book, its a little dry, overstates its point, but it changed the world's perspective on pesticides.
If you want to see a good reference on insecticides look for:
Pedigo, L. P. 2002. Entomology & Pest Management, 4th edition. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. xxii + 742 pp.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
arnab karmakar
It's been several years since I've read "Silent Spring," one of the most significant environmental books ever written, but I must respond to the posting by "seem," which is titled "murderous, over the top propaganda" (I correctly your misspelling of the last word): His recommendation to read "DDT: A Case Study in Scientific Fraud" was put out by the Heartland Institute and is, in itself, a "fraud." The Heartland Institute is one of the most pro-chemical, pro-industry, anti-environmental and right-wing organizations around. Nothing they put out should be believed for a second.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A score of years after Bhopal.

The elimination of DDT in the US but export of DDT to foriegn

countries is problematical,,,,...

the nesting eagle population was brought back indirectly by

Carson's work.

SOx NOx CO2 the later covered by Teapot Dome Energy Infrastructure,

following the world health organization to Korea,

the spirit of science for the people a blandishment

of satisfaction for the available dermatoid cyst

gastrocnemius siting for breakout.. the discovery

of Anopheles and homograft contained laboratories.

The briefcases and Parapluie of Cato's Republic and

the Congressional Memory Project.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
ali bari
First of all, this book may have been an eye opener when it came out, but this book is outdated. We have new technology that allows us to rid ourselves of certain pests that we did not have in the 1950's and 1960's. With new methods we have created new problems and eliminated a few of the old ones. Books should be recomended that discuss current problems rather than outdated ones. Although this book was a pioneer in alerting the country of environmental hazards it overexagerates situations to unrealistic levels. It does however suggest a few natural ways to rid communities and farms of certain insects. All in all, I was informed of a few new things that opened my eyes, but like I said, they are problems that are now mostly in the past.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tim jaeger
Rachel Carson had the ability to communicate to a broad audience. She wrote to the point but with a skill that makes reading Silent Spring enjoyable. Speaking as a scientist that reads many dry "scientific" books and journals, I found Rachel Carson to be an enjoyable, informative read.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
maria alsamadisi
I recently read Slient Spring and it had its downs and its up (only one of them)
Some infomartion that Carson used to show the effects of DDT on bird eggs were misleading and others were outright lies. Some of the lies she wrote were bogus numbers of deaths and even the "effects" that DDT had. If we had DDT today, I doubt that there would be West Nile in the effect that it is today or Malaria would be as powerful as it is now in Third World nations.
The one plus side of Silent Spring was that it had solid writing. The words and "information" flowed easily onto paper.
So in the end Silent Spring is a good example of how to write, but not how to do research.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kelly mantoan
Usually when I read a book it never grabs me and I am usually very bored reading it. To my own surprise that was the very opposite in this book, to think that some of the things mentioned in this novel actually happened makes you think and definately grabs the readers attention. ...
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
shin yu
For my book choice I chose to read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. Having read selections for a paper I had to do earlier last semester, I was intrigued about reading the book in it's entirety and get the whole picture the author was trying to paint when talking about the dangers to our environment. Written in the early 1960's it sparked a lot of debate and talk about pesticides and how they are effecting and changing the environment around us. The book stresses the potential danger that will come with the consequences of using such poisons on the land.
She was the first of her kind to branch out and talk about the environment and in some ways started the movement for a healthier planet. The book talks about a "Silent Spring" in which no one can hear the songs of the birds because they have did out due to the pesticide exposure. That is generally the main theme of the book and I used as an image to show how different and drastic the land would be changed and ravaged by our actions. She then delves deeper into this concept by talking also about how it will only kill birds and animals but then soon it will affect humans and the way of life and pace at which we operate and change the environment to frightening landscapes.
I personally thought the book was mediocre. I say this for the fact that I don't think pesticides are as much of a problem today as they were fifty years ago but its message is great as it is really the first tome to speak on the issue of planetary rejuvenation and cleaning the world up for future generations. From a historical perspective it's interesting to trace the roots of the green movement, and this would be one of the first books speaking about the topic, so if history interests you about environmental care this book is for you. But if you are looking for just a casual read not the best book to look at for an impact on today's society.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elliott p
It certainly doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that whatever "inputs" we put into a system (Earth, humans, water, air, etc.), will in turn impact the system and the systems "outputs." If we put poison into the soil, air, and water, we will ultimately re-ingest these materials and create a toxic environment that will be unable to support the system that we are purportedly trying to save. Do the logic yourself. What kind of logic is it that would say that malaria deaths justify the use of DDT? We have no idea of how many millions, or billions, of people globally have been impacted by its use in the forms of debilitating illnesses and death from cancer and the like. With this false rationale, just as in the current debate over the use and subsequent output of carbon materials, we are again showing our naivete in believing that we can put a "technological" fix on an issue that is better addressed by the way we live and consume. So, we save all these poor souls from malaria, but then we give them a planet that is poisonous? Nonsensical at best.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Although this book was published more than 40 years ago, it's still worth a read. I found it interesting, informative and disturbing. Although I know DDT has been banned, I can't help but worry about some of the lasting effects of it and other chemicals used as pesticides or insecticides.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
emanuela pascari
Half of the book didn't have to be written ,she repeated a lot of the same opinion or theory. Which makes a very boring book
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
anna baker
Over all it was a good book, even for being out dated. It made me sad for what we had done. Made me happy for how far we have come, yet still sad because it's not enough.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
the subject and the writing is terrific but the formatting was terrible. every line had words with spaces within the words. very clumsy and distracting. it should have been offered as a monthly deal or at a much reduced price. cannot recommend this edition
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I am very interesting to find all the books written by Rachel Carlson in french. I looked for these books in several book shops in france. Unsuccessfully . Thank you for your help
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Chemicals are not dangerous and there is no such thing as global warming. Sarah Palin is so much more in tune with the environment than Rachel Carson was. Know what's nice about seeing American Eagles? DDT came oh so close to wiping them out!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Try Dennis Avery's book 'Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastics' for a much more scientific book. Millions of people are dying in Africa of mosquito-borne illness because of irrational and unfounded fears of DDT. Rachael Carson and her emotionally laden legacy deserve blame for this situation
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
elizabeth ross
the first book for environmentalists
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
haley carnefix
Really important message; not the most enthralling writing. Definitely worth reading, even if you skim the middle chapters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anne john
A classic.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chris clark
I can only give a review on the delivery, which was fast. Plus the condition of the book, which was exactly as they stated on the description of it. It was purchased for my daughter for her reading list for high school, so I have not read it. But I'd do business with this seller again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
this booked showed up on time as expected
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Very important work by a very important figure in history, get it, read it, pass it on.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Delivered as advertised.
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Too many reviewers see only one thread of Carson's argument: that DDT and pesticides like it endanger the environment. The other thread is that DDT resistance in mosquitoes develops very quickly, and the more quickly the more it is used. Which leaves us right back where we started. Her argument is not that pesticides should not be used, but that they should be used intelligently. In this age, when antibiotic resistant bacteria are becoming a very serious problem precisely because of antibiotic overuse (and not only in hospitals, but, most egregiously, as growth enhancers for livestock), this argument should be indisputable.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
turfa shamma
The book is very emotional and is an interesting read, I'll give it that. Carson is a good writer presents a compelling case, but it is supported by lies and half-truths. I'll mention a couple of them below...
Carson wrote, "Dr. DeWitt's now classic experiments [on quail and pheasants] have now established the fact that exposure to DDT, even when doing no observable harm to the birds, may seriously affect reproduction. Quail into whose diet DDT was introduced throughout the breeding season survived and even produced normal numbers of fertile eggs. But few of the eggs hatched." But Dr. DeWitt's actual article yielded different conclusions. Quail that were fed DDT hatched 80% of their eggs, while the control group that wasn't fed DDT hatched 83.9% of their eggs. Hardly a significant difference. Carson also "conveniently" forgot to mention that DeWitt's control group of pheasants hatched only 57% of their eggs, while those fed DDT in high levels for an entire year hatched more than 80% of their eggs.
Carson seemed to believe that DDT was responsible for declining bird populations. Yet somehow she forgot that the bald eagles were threatened with extinction in 1921, 25 years before widespread use with DDT. The peregrine falcon and brown pelican populations also declined significantly before widespread use of DDT. So don't blame DDT for that.
Yet another thing she forgot was the millions of humans saved, with little real damage to the environment. DDT was only shown to be harmful in HUGE doses; i.e. doses that are many, many times higher than could possibly be encountered through normal usage.
In summary, read this book if you like to be scared, but don't take it too seriously. It's kind of depressing that this piece of trash was taken as fact and started a movement, at the expense of millions of human lives due to insect-carried diseases. There are problems with the environment, sure, but DDT is not one of them. This book was written with an agenda, and it succeeded in that regard. So we have wonderful Rachel Carson to thank for many of our pest and disease problems we have today. Give her a round of applause.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
donna kirk
I had to order this book for an environmental science class because it is said to have started the environmental movement. The first few chapters were fine. After that it seemed like it was just saying the same thing over and over again. All of the rest of the chapters elaborated about the dangers of pesticides and herbicides (which I do agree are dangerous) while citing countless places where they killed unintended plants and animals. That is the basic idea of the book. you don't need 297 pages to convey that message.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
cera y
We understand the importance of this book, 42 years ago. But, with the environmental education put in place today, the book lacks impact on the reader. Although the -many- facts given were very educational, and astonishing, they seemed too abundant, and too plentiful around facts, rather than relation to the environment.

The ongoing occurances back then, are not specifically ongoing now, which means less corrolation to our modern day habitats, regardless of facts, though. Silent Spring was an easy read, and very persuasive and truthful in nature, but, however, the over-use of facts in the book, suffocated it's impact.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
girl from mumbai
landark book on dangers of ddt, insightful analysis
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marijana kaurin
Rachel Carson sent tremors through American society with the publication of her 1962 book "Silent Spring." Carson, a marine biologist who died two years after publication of the book, wrote "Silent Spring" when she received a letter from a concerned citizen lamenting the mass death of birds after a DDT spraying. Carson continues to serve as a touchstone for both mainline and radical environmental groups, from the Sierra Club to Earth First!. It is not difficult to see why; Carson's call for active involvement in our environment is still an absolute necessity today as the industrial system continues its rapid march across the landscape. If we do not want our children born with gills and fins, keeping Carson in mind is important.
Carson's analysis of DDT and other synthetic chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides resulted in a deeply ominous conclusion-pesticides destroy the environment and threaten everything within the ecological system. Carson examined the composition of pesticides, revealing that synthetic pesticides have the ability to not only kill their intended targets, but they also move right up the food chain, eventually reaching the human population. The pesticides then build up in the tissues of the body, rarely breaking down but often building in intensity through continued exposure or changing into forms that are even more toxic by interacting with other ingested chemicals. Even worse, these chemicals cause tremors, paralysis, cancer, and a host of other unpleasant ailments. Carson cites numerous stories about exposed people falling ill and dying shortly after spraying these toxic chemicals. Carson also shows the biological process these poisons take when they enter the body, when they cut off oxygen to the cells and raise the metabolic rate to unhealthy levels. Carson proves these chemicals move on to succeeding generations of offspring through mother's milk and other biological processes.
Most of the book deals with the effects of chemical spraying on wildlife in the environment. Separate chapters deal with birds, insects, fish, and plant life. Needless to say, the picture painted here is not pretty. Too often, spraying chemicals in the 1950's and 1960's brought into play the full ignorance of the human race. Carson's book shows how farmers applied pounds of poisons to their land, far exceeding the recommended application levels. Spray trucks moved through neighborhoods, hosing down the community with poison while the kiddies played outside in the yard. On several occasions, planes sprayed poison on cities. This reckless disregard for life in any form ruined landscapes, created mounds of animal corpses, and gave us tasty water that can melt your teeth.
What is surprising about Carson's book is that people knew all about the effects of these poisons. "Silent Spring" made a difference because it puts it all together, showing how a series of localized incidents is, in fact, a national problem. Carson also wrote her book in a style where even the densest yokels in the herd could figure out the dangers of the problem. Since I am a science idiot, I appreciated Carson's clear articulation of the problem without sacrificing the hard data behind the examples.
Carson delivers a stinging rebuke to our conception of mankind as the dominant force in the universe. If humanity truly rules the roost, so to speak, why are we such idiots about sustaining the very environment that feeds us? The ignorance of man in this book is astounding. Repeatedly, we destroy and destroy again even in the face of overwhelming evidence of the damage we are causing. Local governments kept spraying even when evidence showed it was a failure. Birds literally fell out of the sky while the trucks went out for another pass through the neighborhood. Dumb, dumb, dumb!
"Silent Spring" concludes with a call for sanity. Carson's answer to the insane escalation of chemical spraying is to seek out biological control methods. Many insects have natural enemies that, if introduced into a problem area, will keep down pest populations. Even localized spraying will work better than mass, indiscriminate spraying. Carson argues that biological control methods are increasingly important because insects are building up resistance to pesticides, requiring the creation of even more virulent poisons in a never-ending cycle where nobody wins.
"Silent Spring" is required reading for anyone concerned about the environment. Carson's book led to significant changes in environmental law (some would say not enough change) and resulted in the outright ban of DDT. My only problem with the book is the introduction written by Al Gore, as the publisher marketed the book with that fact in mind. Gore's name seems to merit equal billing with Carson's on the cover. One must remember Al Gore is a politician and is in league with the destroyers because he needs their money to run his expensive campaigns. Carson would be appalled.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jessica campese
What follows is an unpublished paper I did with Dr. of entomology J. Gordon Edwards in the early 90s. We put a lot of time into it, and it deals with facts, not the innuendo Carson ascribes to. I've deleted the intro, which is unrelated to carson's book.

As I neared the middle of the book, the feeling grew in my mind that Rachel Carson was really playing loose with the facts and was also deliberately wording many sentences in such a way as to make them imply certain things without actually saying them. She was carefully omitting everything that failed to support her thesis that pesticides were bad, that industry was bad, and that any scientists who did not support her views were bad. So I started over, notepad in hand, listing errors that I confirmed in other documents. Here's that work:

Dedication: A Lie
Dedication. In the front of the book, Carson dedicates Silent Spring as follows: “To Albert Schweitzer who said ‘Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the Earth.’”

This appears to indicate that the great man opposed the use of insecticides. However, in his autobiography Schweitzer writes, on page 262: “How much labor and waste of time these wicked insects do cause us ... but a ray of hope, in the use of DDT, is now held out to us.” Upon reading his book, it is clear that Schweitzer was worried about nuclear warfare, not about the hazards from DDT!

Page 16. Carson says that before World War II, while developing agents of chemical warfare, it was found that some of the chemicals created in the laboratory were lethal to insects. “The discovery did not come by chance: insects were widely used to test chemicals as agents of death for man.” Carson thus seeks to tie insecticides to chemical warfare. However, DDT was never tested as an “agent of death for man.” It was always known to be nonhazardous to humans! Her implication is despicable.

Page 16. Carson says the pre-war insecticides were simple inorganic insecticides but her examples include pyrethrum and rotenone, which are complex organic chemicals.

Page 17. Carson says arsenic is a carcinogen (identified from chimney soot) and mentions a great many horrible ways in which it is violently poisonous to vertebrates. She then says (page 18): “Modern insecticides are still more deadly,” and she makes a special mention of DDT as an example.

This implication that DDT is horribly deadly is completely false. Human volunteers have ingested as much as 35 milligrams of it a day for nearly two years and suffered no adverse affects. Millions of people have lived with DDT intimately during the mosquito spray programs and nobody even got sick as a result. The National Academy of Sciences concluded in 1965 that “in a little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million [human] deaths that would otherwise have been inevitable.” The World Health Organization stated that DDT had “killed more insects and saved more people than any other substance.” A leading British scientist pointed out that “If the pressure groups had succeeded, if there had been a world ban on DDT, then Rachel Carson and Silent Spring would now be killing more people in a single year than Hitler killed in his whole holocaust.”

It is a travesty, therefore, if Rachel Carson’s all-out attack on DDT results in any programs lauding her efforts to ban DDT and other life-saving chemicals!

Page 18. Referring to chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides (like DDT) and organophosphates (like malathion), Carson says they are all “built on a basis of carbon atoms, which are also the indispensable building blocks of the living world, and thus classed as ‘organic.’ To understand them we must see how they are made, and how they lend themselves to the modifications which make them agents of death.”

Surely it is unfair of Carson to imply that all insecticides are “agents of death” for animals other than insects.

Page 21. After referring to untruthful allegations that persons ingesting as little as one tenth of a part per million (ppm) of DDT will then store “about 10 to 15 ppm,” Carson states that “such substances are so potent that a minute quantity can bring about vast changes in the body.” (She does not consider the metabolism and breakdown of DDT in humans and other vertebrates, and their excretion in urine, and so on, which prevents the alleged “biological magnification” up food chains from actually occurring.) Carson then states: “In animal experiments, 3 parts per million [of DDT] has been found to inhibit an essential enzyme in heart muscle; only 5 parts per million has brought about necrosis or disintegration of liver cells. ...” This implies that considerable harm to one’s health might result from traces of DDT in the diet, but there has been no medical indication that her statements are true.

On page 22, Carson adds, “... we know that the average person is storing potentially harmful amounts.” This is totally false!

Page 23. Carson says, “the Food and Drug Administration forbids the presence of insecticide residues in milk shipped in interstate commerce.” This is not true, either! The permissible level was 0.5 ppm in milk being shipped interstate.

Page 24. Carson says: “One victim who accidentally spilled a 25 percent industrial solution [of chlordane] on the skin developed symptoms of poisoning within 40 minutes and died before medical help could be obtained. No reliance can be placed on receiving advance warning which might allow treatment to be had in time.”

The actual details regarding this accident were readily available at the time, but Carson evidently chose to distort them. The accident occurred in 1949 in the chemical formulation plant, when a worker spilled a large quantity down the front of her body. The liquid contained 25 pounds of chlordane, 39 pounds of solvent, and 10 pounds of emulsifier (Journal of the American Medical Association, Aug. 13, 1955). Carson’s reference to this as a “25 percent solution” spilled on the skin certainly underplays the severity of that drenching, which was the only account known of such a deadly contamination during the history of chlordane formulation.

Page 28. Carson refers to the origin of organophosphate insecticides like parathion (the insecticide that EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus recommended as the substitute for DDT). She states that the insecticidal properties of organophosphates were “discovered by a German chemist, Gerhard Schrader, in the late 1930s” and that “Some became the deadly nerve gases. Others, of closely allied structure, became insecticides.”

Actually, the insecticides of that nature were not discovered until after World War II (15 years later than Carson implied) and the similarity of insecticides to the dreaded nerve gases was greatly exaggerated by Carson. Carson’s attempt to spread terror about beneficial insecticides becomes even more vicious:

Pages 36-37. Carson says: “Among the herbicides are some that are classed as ‘mutagens,’ or agents capable of modifying the genes, the materials of heredity. We are rightly appalled by the genetic effects of radiation; how then can we be indifferent to the same effect in chemicals that we disseminate widely in our environment?”

Carson’s comparison between “radiation” and common herbicides is despicable, for there is a tremendous difference between their mutagenic potentials.

Page 40. Carson claims that “an appalling deluge of chemical pollution is daily poured into the nation’s waterways,” that “Most of them are so stable that they cannot be broken down by ordinary processes,” and that “Often they cannot even be identified.”

These are obviously overstatements designed to worry the reader by using frightening words and intimating that nobody knows what death-dealing chemicals are in the average person’s drinking water. Of course, if they can be detected, they can be identified. The amount of pollutants entering the drinking water of the country was repeatedly analyzed by experts and was found to be below levels that might cause human illness in homes. Carson’s scare-mongering statements would fit more appropriately in the pages of today’s supermarket tabloids.

Pages 50-51. Carson writes that: “Arsenic, the environmental substance most clearly established as causing cancer in man, is involved in two historic cases in which polluted water supplies caused widespread occurrence of cancer.”

I have seen no proof that arsenic causes cancer in humans, and it is known to occur naturally in most kinds of shellfish and other marine life. And, if she were really concerned about public health, Carson should have rejoiced to see that relatively harmless insecticides like DDT were capable of replacing arsenicals and other poisonous inorganic materials!

Page 78. Referring to “weeds” (which are such foes of healthy crops that they must be decimated before the crops can mature and be harvested, Carson states: “Presumably the weed is taking something from the soil; perhaps it is also contributing something to it.”

She is obviously correct about weeds taking something from the soil as every gardener knows by sad experience, but it takes a tremendous stretch of the imagination to suggest that weeds are desirable in fields of crops!

Carson then refers to a city park in Holland where the soil around the roses was heavily infested by nematodes. Planting marigolds among the roses resulted in the death of the nematodes, she claims, and the roses then flourished. No reference was cited. Based on this unsubstantiated story, Carson concludes that “other plants that we ruthlessly eradicate may be performing a function that is necessary to the health of the soil.”

So, soil with nematodes was just unhealthy anyway, but fields where weeds have crowded out the food crops had healthier soil even before crops were planted? Everyone who personally grows desirable plants will surely disagree with her!

Page 80. Carson says: “Crabgrass exists only in an unhealthy lawn. It is a symptom, not a disease in itself.” When the soil is healthy and fertile it is an environment in which crabgrass cannot grow, she says, because other grasses will prevent it from surviving.

Persons who have had crabgrass invade their beautiful lawn will quite rightly object to this wild unsubstantiated statement.

“Astonishing amounts of crabgrass killers” are placed on lawns each year, including mercury, arsenic, and chlordane, she says, relishing the stupidity of nurserymen who have a lifetime of experience. She then cites examples where they “apply 60 pounds of technical chlordane to the acre if they follow directions. If they use another of the many available products, they are applying 175 pounds of metallic arsenic to the acre [highly questionable]. The toll of dead birds is distressing. ... How lethal these lawns may be for human beings is unknown.”

Page 85. Carson says we are “adding... a new kind of havoc—the direct killing of birds, mammals, fishes, and indeed practically every form of wildlife by chemical insecticides indiscriminately sprayed on the land.”

Is it possible that Carson was unaware of the great increases in mammals and game birds harvested by hunters during the years of greatest use of the modern insecticides to which she objects? Is it possible that she was unaware of the tremendous increases in most kinds of North American birds, as documented year after year by participants in the Audubon Christmas Bird Counts? (That abundance was proven by the numbers of birds counted, per observer, on those counts.) The major things that limited numbers of fish during the ”DDT years” was the increasing competition among hordes of fishermen, the damming of multitudes of streams, and the sewage produced by our burgeoning population of healthy, well-fed American people.

Instead of recognizing and appreciating these documented increases of wildlife, Carson says bitterly (page 85): “[Nothing must get in the way of the man with the spray gun. ... The incidental victims of his crusade against insects count as nothing; if robins, pheasants, raccoons, cats, or even livestock happen to inhabit the same bit of earth as the target insects and to be hit by the rain of insect-killing poisons no one must protest.”

Page 87. Carson bemoans the efforts to control the Japanese beetles in Detroit in 1959, saying, “Little need was shown for this drastic and dangerous action.” She then says that a naturalist in Michigan, who she claimed was very well informed, stated that the Japanese beetle had been present in Detroit for more than 30 years. (No entomologist had ever seen one there.) Carson’s naturalist also said that the beetles had not increased there during all that time.

Perhaps she misquoted the naturalist, or perhaps he was just lying, or maybe he simply did not recognize the local Strigoderma beetles that faintly resemble Japanese beetles. Certainly it is impossible that the voracious Japanese beetles were actually present there for 30 years, remaining hidden from all entomologists and home-owners! Everywhere those beetles have invaded they quickly multiplied to a pest status within a few years, causing tremendous damage to flowers, fruits, and (as larvae) destroying the roots of grasses and other plants. Even Rachel Carson should not expect us to believe that in Detroit they displayed entirely different behavior. ...

Page 88. Regarding those Japanese beetles, Carson said that the midwestern states “have launched an attack worthy of the most deadly enemy instead of only a moderately destructive insect.” Thousands of residents of the eastern United States laughed at that ridiculous statement because they had personally experienced the devastation caused by the beetles and their larvae. Incredibly, Carson insisted (page 96) that the Japanese beetle by 1945 “had become a pest of only minor importance. ...”

Page 97. Carson discusses the use of spores of “milky disease” placed in the soil to kill the beetle larvae, and expresses tremendous confidence in the ability of that bacterium to eradicate them there. As to why they did not fight the epidemic in Michigan by simply using these spores, she explains that it was considered too expensive.

Carson reveals with pleasure the fact that they infect at least 40 other species of beetles, but expresses no concern for environmental harm caused by such a broad-spectrum killer of native insects. To the contrary, on page 99 she attacks the use of pesticides because they “... are not selective poisons; they do not single out the one species of which we desire to be rid.” Evidently she felt that it was all right for bacteria to be broad spectrum poisons, but that pesticides must affect only a single target.

Birds Vs. Human Deaths
Page 99. Carson vividly describes the death of a bird that she thought may have been poisoned by a pesticide, but nowhere in the book does she describes the deaths of any of the people who were dying of malaria, yellow fever, plague, sleeping sickness, or other diseases that are transmitted by insects. Her propaganda in Silent Spring contributed greatly to the banning of insecticides that were capable of preventing human deaths. Carson shares the responsibility for literally millions of deaths among the poor people in underdeveloped nations. Dr. William Bowers, head of the Entomology Department at the University of Arizona, said in 1986 that DDT is the most significant discovery of all time, and “in malaria control alone it saved almost 3 billion lives.”

Rachel Carson’s lack of concern for human lives endangered by diseases transmitted by insects is revealed on page 187, where she writes: “Only yesterday mankind lived in fear of the scourges of smallpox, cholera and plague that once swept nations before them. Now our major concern is no longer with the disease organisms that once were omnipresent; sanitation, better living conditions, and new drugs have given us a high degree of control over infectious disease. Today we are concerned with a different kind of hazard that lurks in our environment—a hazard we ourselves have introduced into our world as our modern way of life has evolved.”

Surely Carson was aware that the greatest threats to humans are diseases such as malaria, typhus, yellow fever, Chagas’s disease, African sleeping sickness, and a number of types of Leishmaniasis and tick-borne bacterial and rickettsial diseases. She deliberately avoids mentioning any of these, because they could be controlled only by the appropriate use of insecticides, especially DDT. Carson evidently preferred to sacrifice those millions of lives rather than advocate any usage of such chemicals.

Page 106. In Lansing, Michigan, a spray program began in l954 against the bark beetles that were transmitting Dutch Elm disease. Carson states “[With local programs for gypsy moth and mosquito control also under way, the rain of chemicals increased to a downpour.” She expresses no concern for the survival of the magnificent elm trees, the dying oak trees, or the torment of people who lived near hordes of blood-sucking mosquitoes, but has tremendous pity for a few birds that had disappeared from the sprayed areas. These positions brought her very little support from the residents.

Carson praises Michigan State University ornithologist George Wallace, who had theorized that robins on the campus were dying because they had eaten earthworms containing DDT from the soil. Many other areas sprayed with DDT did not have dying robins, but Carson studiously avoids mentioning that. Wallace also did not mention the high levels of mercury on the ground and in the earthworms (from soil fungicide treatments on the Michigan campus), even though the symptoms displayed by the dying robins were those attributable to mercury poisoning. Instead, Wallace (and Carson) sought to blame only DDT for the deaths.

The dead birds Wallace sent out for subsequent study were analyzed by a method that detected only “total chlorine content” and could not determine what kind of chlorine was present; none was analyzed for mercury contamination). It was obviously highly irresponsible for Wallace and Carson to jump to the conclusion that the Michigan State University robins were being killed by DDT, and especially for Carson to highlight the false theory in her book long after the truth was evident.

In many feeding experiments birds, including robins, were forced to ingest great quantities of DDT (and its breakdown product, DDE). Wallace did not provide any evidence that indicated the Michigan State University robins may have been killed by those chemicals. Researcher Joseph Hickey at the University of Wisconsin had testified before the Environmental Protection Agency hearings on DDT specifically that he could not kill any robins by overdosing them with DDT because the birds simply passed it through their digestive tract and eliminated it in their feces. Many other feeding experiments by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and various university researchers repeatedly showed that DDT and DDE in the diet could not have killed wild birds under field conditions. If Carson had mentioned these pertinent details it would have devastated her major theme, which continued to be the awful threats posed by DDT to all nonhuman creatures on the face of the Earth. Instead of providing the facts that would clarify such conditions, she spent several more pages on unfounded allegations about DDT and various kinds of birds.

Page 109. Carson alleges that because of the spray programs, “Heavy mortality has occurred among about 90 species of birds, including those most familiar to suburbanites and amateur naturalists. ... All the various types of birds are affected—ground feeders, treetop feeders, bark feeders, predators.”

Carson provides no references to confirm that allegation. The Audubon Christmas Bird Counts, in fact, continued to reveal that more birds were counted, per observer, during the greatest “DDT years,” including those types that Carson had declared to be declining in numbers. When marshes were sprayed with DDT to control the mosquitoes, a common result was a population explosion of birds inhabiting the marshes. The increases evidently occurred because of a reduction in bird diseases that were formerly transmitted by local blood-sucking insects, greater abundance of available food (less plant destruction by insects), and increased quantities of hepatic enzymes produced by the birds as a result of ingesting DDT (these enzymes destroy cancer-causing aflatoxins in birds and other vertebrates).

The flocks of birds—such as red-winged blackbirds—that were produced by the millions in marshes that had been sprayed with DDT caused tremendous damage to grain crops in Ohio and elsewhere. Such destruction was not desirable, and if Carson had complained about that nobody could have criticized her for it. Instead, she attempted to convince the readers that spraying the marshes caused the death of the birds nesting there, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Page 111. Carson says: “All of the treetop feeders, the birds that glean their insect food from the leaves, have disappeared from heavily sprayed areas. ...”

Insecticides temporarily eliminate some insects from sprayed areas, and before others can move in the insectivorous birds cannot find much food there. Carson said the birds had disappeared, and not that they had been killed. She later even admitted that their scarcity could be caused by “lack of insects because of spray.”

Page 118. Carson writes: “Like the robin, another American bird seems to be on the verge of extinction. This is the national symbol, the eagle.”

In that very same year, 1962, the leading ornithologist in North America also mentioned the status of the robin. That authority was Roger Tory Peterson, who asked in his Life magazine Nature library book, The Birds, “What is North America’s number one bird?” He then pointed out that it was the robin! The Audubon Christmas Bird Count in 1941 (before DDT) was 19,616 robins (only 8.41 seen per observer)—see Table 1. Compare that with the 1960 count of 928,639 robins (or 104.01 per observer). The total was 12 times more robins seen per observer after all those years of DDT and other “modern pesticide” usage. Carson had to avoid all references to such surveys or her thesis would have been disproved by the evidence.

Page 119.: Carson spends two pages discussing the Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania, counts of migrating raptorial birds. Data from actual total counts of raptors made there during the years before and during the greatest usage of DDT in North America. Very few of them decreased in numbers during those years. The numbers of migrating hawks (and eagles) increased from 9,29l in 1946 to 16,163 in 1963, but with considerable fluctuation in intervening years.

Page 120. Carson explains the lack of young birds by saying: “... [The reproductive capacity of the birds has been so lowered by some environmental agent that there are now almost no annual additions of young to maintain the race. Exactly this sort of situation has been produced artificially in other birds by various experimenters, notably Dr. James DeWitt of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Dr. DeWitt’s now classic experiments on the effects of a series of insecticides on quail and pheasants have established the fact that exposure to DDT or related chemicals, even when doing no observable harm to the parent birds, may seriously affect reproduction. For example, quail into whose diet DDT was introduced throughout the breeding season survived and even produced normal numbers of fertile eggs. But few of the eggs hatched”.

Carson gives no indication of how many might be considered as “few eggs hatching.” Perhaps she thought that her readers would never see the rather obscure journal in which DeWitt’s results were published in 1956, the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. Otherwise, she surely would not have so badly misrepresented DeWitt’s results! The dosage he fed the quail was 100 parts per million in all their food every day, which was roughly 3,000 times the daily DDT intake of humans during the years of the greatest DDT use!

The quail did not just hatch “a few” of their eggs, as DeWitt’s data clearly reveal (Table 3). As the published data from DeWitt’s experiments show, the “controls” (those quail with no DDT) hatched 83.9 percent of their eggs, while the DDT-fed quail hatched 75 to 80 percent of theirs. I would not call an 80 percent hatch “few,” especially when the controls hatched only 83.9 percent of their eggs.

Carson either did not read DeWitt’s article, or she deliberately lied about the results of DeWitt’s experiments on pheasants, which were published on the same page. The “controls” hatched only 57.4 percent of their eggs, while the DDT-fed pheasants, (dosed with 50 ppm of DDT in all of their food during the entire year) hatched 80.6 percent of theirs. After two weeks, the DDT chicks had 100 percent survival, while the control chicks only had 94.8 percent survival, and after 8 weeks the DDT chicks had 93.3 percent survival while the control chicks only had 89.7 percent survival. It was false reporting such as this that caused so many leading scientists in the United States to take Rachel Carson to task.

Page 122. Carson says various birds have been storing up the DDT in the tissues of their bodies. “And like the grebes, the pheasants, the quail, and the robins, they are less and less able to produce young and to preserve the continuity of their race.”

According to DeWitt’s work, which Carson cited as her source, the birds that were fed exceedingly high levels of DDT every day hatched nearly as many of their eggs (in quail) to 27 percent more of their eggs (in pheasants). The great increases in the numbers of robins were documented in the comments above, in reference to page 118. Carson’s claim, therefore, that those three kinds of birds are less and less able to produce young is remarkably false—and insulting to the reader.

Page 125. Carson writes: “‘Pheasant sickness’ became a well-known phenomenon: birds ‘seek water, become paralyzed and are found on the ditch banks and rice checks quivering,’ according to one observer” [emphasis added]. “One observer” is not very credible as a source of scientific information. Is this the best source a science writer like Rachel Carson could supply?

Carson cited Robert L. Rudd and Richard E. Genelly, in an article in The Condor magazine, as the source for the information that follows: “The ‘sickness’ comes in the spring, at the time the rice fields are seeded.” This statement is misleading. The sickness may have come in the spring, but it was not in the rice fields. Instead, it was in outdoor pens where the birds were held captive, and all of their food contained rice “treated at the rate of one and one-half pounds of DDT per 100 pounds.” Rudd and Genelly state in The Condor (March 1955): “This value is equivalent to 15,000 parts per million DDT in the diet.”

This amount represents the highest dosage of DDT I have ever heard of in any experimental animal, and I cannot understand why they would use such an extreme concentration. This means that 1.5 percent of every bite of food was “poison.”

And what were the results of this remarkable feeding experiment? As reported in Condor, page 418, four of the birds died “after four or five days” with severe tremors. One died on the tenth day, but never showed any symptoms prior to death. The remaining seven pheasants survived and five of them showed no symptoms. One of the survivors had “slight tremors” and the other had “slight incoordination.” This is a remarkable lack of poisoning, considering the astronomical amount of DDT in their food! I could only surmise that the survivors must have eaten very little of the poisoned food. (Rudd did not measure the amounts ingested, but simply placed the food in the pen.)

Carson writes that “the concentration of DDT used [in the fields] is many times the amount that will kill an adult pheasant.” In his article, Rudd concluded that it was “clear that DDT-treated grain is or can be lethal to grain-eating birds,” but he also stated, “This mortality may be entirely eliminated by applying chemical and seed separately” (emphasis added). It appears that Carson’s misleading report of Rudd’s conclusion was designed to deceive the reader regarding DDT hazards in the environment.

The text continues in this vein for another 172 pages, with chapter heads such as “Rivers of Death,” ”The Human Price,” “The Rumblings of an Avalanche,” and “Beyond the Dreams of the Borgias.” I trust that this partial analysis of Carson’s deceptions, false statements, horrible innuendoes, and ridiculous allegations in the first 125 pages of Silent Spring will indicate why so many scientists expressed opposition, antagonism, and perhaps even a little rage after reading Carson’s diatribe. No matter how deceitful her prose, however, the influence of Carson’s Silent Spring has been very great and it continues 30 years later to shape environmentalist propaganda and fund-raising as well as U.S. policy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andy collado
This order came to me very fast; before the delivery date. Rachel Carson's book is truly one of the forerunners in the race to save mankind from destroying itself through destrying the planet and very essential resources we need to survive centuries from now. the store is the best book selling source for me, especially since this book was cheap and made it's way into my hands after a speedy delivery. Thank You!!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
traci duckworth
Over 35 years ago, this book, which would give aid and comfort to all those who would destroy our way of life, was written. Consider how the advocates of a certain policy (i.e. banning of pesticides) will skew "scientific" data to support a pre-ordained conclusion. A fine example of that in this book would be the "finding" of thin eagle eggshells, due to (we're told) DDT. Not mentioned was the diet fed to the mother eagles in the study, one containing only 20% of their normal, natural calcium intake.
Stop for a minute to think about how many millions of lives in the world were saved from malaria by DDT - and how many that were not saved since banning it. But, to the new "environmental" Marxists, what's a few million human lives in the battle to enslave all of humanity? Those who have written to praise this monument to junk science ought to consider the harm done by polemics such as this. This same sentiment is in control of the EPA today. One need only look at the environment of former Soviet satellite nations of Eastern Europe to see what a disaster totalitarian governments (with no oversight) have made. Continue along our current course of Washington-dominated command-and-control bureaucratic decision-making (as well as more government funded and controlled "science"), and we will have a dirtier and more unhealthy world, with lower life expectancy for everyone.
Undoubtedly, such an outcome would be praised as "fair" by our would-be dictators.
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jennifer shepherd
I had to read this book for class. It is very radical left about everything.
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anita williams
I liked because it was an inspiring book and it is very well written. I am satisfied with buying this book
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nick mathers
We needed more than 30 years to understand that Rachel Carson was not an alarmist. This prophetic book about our environment is very well written.
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It smells like mold. Allergic. Would like to return.
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jelisa hamilton
I haven't read it. I got it as a present for someone. Someone that I like it's probably worth mentioning rather than someone I don't like. Once they have read it, I would like to read it myself - maybe not straight away, but at some point in my life. This book was mentioned a number of times in teh environmental studies degree I did at university, and it now hangs (in my mind at least) as one of those books that one day I'd like to get around to reading. There's a good chance that I'll do this within the next 12-24 months as I believe the person I bought it for will have finished it by then. They're not a slow reader, but they need to finish something for me before I will give them this book - it's like an incentive for them - and I believe they will finish this thing soon, meaning I will give them the book, which they will read (and very much enjoy I no doubt), at which time they will allow me to read it also. I am interested in reading this book. Thank you for asking.
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chase graham
Anyone who has read this book has easy reference to multiple studies that ALL show DDT is an entirely ineffective long-term solution to malaria. It isn't hard to miss the sexism in a lot of these comments, calling Carson out as "emotional" especially stands out-anyone who has actually read her book would struggle to find a trace of emotion as she describes case studies in depth. She loved nature, this is true, but the woman never made a single assertion that wasn't backed up by abundant research. The haters can call Carson names and accuse her of murder all day long, but the fact is there isn't a single study out there that gives any hope of DDT being a sustainable solution to malaria (or anything else, really. Does cancer count?). The only reason it is being sprayed in poor areas is because there is restricted funding for sustainable methods of mosquito-control, and DDT is well, cheap. But a cheap poison is still a poison, and at the end of the day none of the trolls on this page can produce any credible research to back up their opinionated claims. So they display this scientist, a woman who was never known to display anything other than calm composure, even when testifying in front of congress and the nation, as an overly-emotional wackjob who decided to rampage against toxic killers one day in the middle of a bad period. She was in fact, the exact opposite- a meticulous, exacting scientist who disliked open displays of emotion and cited all her assertions with plentiful evidence. Read this book, you won't regret it. Unless of course, you already hate facts- then join the trolls on this page!
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Haven't had time to read the book, but the service was great--book came well within the timeframe promised, and it's in as-promised condition.
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mohammad omar
Every once in a while a book comes a long that has such a profound effect on society that it creates a movement for awareness and betterment. Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring, is one of those. Silent Spring did for the environmental movement what Upton Sinclair's The Jungle did for the labor movement and Uncle Tom's Cabin did for the anti-slavery movement. Carson took a stand on environmental abuses, especially against the chemical industry in this work of social criticism. Carson opened the eyes of many and forced many to take responsibility for their actions, which sparked a modern environmental and awareness movement that is still active today.
Silent Spring discusses the implications of using harmful chemicals to all life--plant, animal, human and the like. They cause negative cyclical reactions--the processes do not continue to work, so it is the harmful chemicals to the Earth are repeated year after year. Though the chemical industry would make you believe the levels in use are not harmful, that is a fallacy. They are extremely dangerous chemicals and poisons, which build up over time in one's body and in the Earth, over time make them lethal.
Carson did well in creating a book that everyone, not just science and environmental enthusiasts could both read and understand. The information presented captures the urgent and sincere trouble that the United States was heading down during the time Silent Spring was written. The use of chemical insecticides and pesticides was going against nature and creating irreversible damage to all living things. The Earth and its facets have its own built-in system to correct problems and to make it work in harmony. Industry, farmers, and others trying to self correct these--mainly by using large amounts of dangerous chemicals, upsets this balance and creates even more problems. It is a cyclical action where there is no positive end in sight.
The actual idea of a "silent spring" which Carson helps the reader visualize in chapter one is a dreary one. Carson goes on to describe specific chemicals (especially DDT), their make-up, and specific hazards they pose. Pesticides and insecticides are both broken down into the dangerous poisons that they are. Carson discusses how these poisons are passed through the food chain, therefore leaving every living thing at risk. Unhealthy consequences, such as disease often occurs, resulting in death if exposed heavily. It is important to understand that the use of these chemicals creates the decline of the Earth's natural defenses against insect populations. By understanding that these poisons exterminate insects only temporary, it's clear that most insects develop resistance to the chemicals rendering them useless. For example, once insects become resistant they can take over in even greater numbers.
Carson uses several chapters to focus on specific aspects of the Earth and how they are specifically affected by these poisons--water, soil, and plants are examined in detail. Carson goes into specific massive spraying campaigns that were used rigorously, but at the expense of the health of the planet and those inhabiting it. One in particular included the spraying in the Midwest for eliminating the Japanese beetle. The Japanese beetle became resistant to the chemicals and has now increased their population. The Midwest completely disregarded the fact that other parts of the United States had successfully used natural predators of the beetle. Again the "easier" and cheaper plan was used at the cost of much of the wildlife in that area.
There was much research and reference to the effect this all had on the bird populations in the United States. This is likely because birds were greatly affected, but also because Carson began this book project after hearing about her friend's experience--many birds died in this friend's hometown as a result of a spraying campaign of DDT. Since birds eat insects and worms (which feed on the insecticides and pesticides) they are extremely vulnerable to being poisoned. Birds were also greatly affected by the mass spraying of DDT for Dutch elm disease. The birds' natural habitat was once again being negatively harmed.
Rivers, streams, and lakes, along with the life that goes with it have also been greatly influenced. Groups of salmon were killed in the campaign against the spruce budworm in forests. Another forest campaign was against the gypsy moth--many people were affected by this (along with many other campaigns) as areas outside of the forest region were sprayed. This is not an uncommon occurrence though. There are few people in the world who do not carry residue from these chemical poisons in their body. Carson uses some of the last chapters to explain the human body's make-up and just how detrimental chemical insecticides and pesticides can be. This leads to diseases such as cancer and eventually death.
As far as some negatives of the book--obviously since the book was written in the early 1960's it is not all up-to-date and relevant. Also, Carson becomes repetitive throughout the book. Though it may not be specifically relevant, it did occur and therefore it affects us nowadays in some way. Not all has been resolved as well--we have a long way to go to become universally environmentally friendly. This book should be used as a tool to help present day and future generations learn from the mistakes of the past. Also, it is fairly one sided with the information. Carson is presenting her findings, but not exactly presenting valid counterarguments.
Carson does not just go over all that is wrong and leave it at that--she wraps up by explaining possible alternative methods of insect control, including some methods that have been tested and proven valid. These "biological" methods are based on understanding the living organism that needs to be controlled, as well as the environment surrounding it. Alternatives include the "male sterilization" technique, using natural enemies of the insects, creating weapons from the insects own life--understanding and then using the insects' venoms, attractants, repellants, and secretions against it. Also, sound repellent and the use of natural diseases of the insects and crops are also alternative ideas.
Overall, Silent Spring is an incredible wake-up call for the fragility of earth and for the dangerous "butterfly effect"--one mistake can set off a chain of events critical to all life as we know it. Silent Spring is a classic work of literature that should be read by school children and adults alike, as a reminder to how vital it is to respect our amazing planet. Because it is not just the birds in danger, it is all of nature and all of humanity.
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sarah black
While Rachel's theories were ahead of her time 40 years ago, many now believe DDT is not the toxin/poison that her book helped label the chemical as. One thing is for SURE: malaria kills millions, including children, in Africa each and every year. DDT could prevent those deaths at a very affordable cost. Malaria in Africa -- one of those unseen ripples in the pond....
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jaron duke
The book starts out well enough and gets the point across. Pesticide use is causing a lot more problems that it is solving. That's great it really is, but every chapter sticks to the same formula and it became increasingly difficult to pick up the book. If it weren't for the fact that it was required reading for my American History class, I would have never finished it.
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melia gonzalez
Book was a mess--Threw it away--Afraid to touch it!
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My daughter had to have this for English and of course she waited till the last minute. To her surprise, she enjoyed the book and the author's writing very much. As usual the store saved the day with a huge selection and fast shipping.
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hira durrani
Despite the power of Carson's argument, despite actions like the banning of DDT in the United States, the environmental crisis has grown worse, not better. Perhaps the rate at which the disaster is increasing has been slowed, but that itself is a disturbing thought. Since the publication of Silent Spring, pesticide use on farms alone has doubled to 1.1 billion tons a year, and production of these dangerous chemicals has increased by 400 percent. We have banned certain pesticides at home, but we still produce them and export them to other countries. This not only involves a readiness to profit by selling others a hazard we will not accept for ourselves; it also reflects an elemental failure to comprehend that the laws of science do not observe the boundaries of politics. Poisoning the food chain anywhere ultimately poisons the food chain everywhere. -Al Gore
It is the premise of Silent Spring that the Age of Chemicals represents an impending disaster for mankind, that use and overuse of chemical compounds is going to cause enormous health problems by both direct contact and as they work their way up the food chain. Carson seized on declining bird populations as an early warning sign that the effects were already being felt in animal populations. She used the metaphor of a Silent Spring, a Spring without birdsong, to convey the horror of where we were headed. As Al Gore laments above, her warnings were largely unheeded and the use of chemicals has grown rapidly. So, we should all be dead right?
That's the problem with calling this one of the "Best" books of the century. The title "Best" should indicate that the book conveys some fundamental and timeless human truths. It would be more accurate to say that Silent Spring is a "great" book. Even then, Silent Spring is undoubtedly an important and influential book, but it is great only in the sense that Thomas Malthus' Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) was great (or The Communist Manifesto and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Mein Kampf for that matter). It is great because it had a profound influence on attitudes and actions, despite the fact that it was completely wrong. At the end of a Century that has seen the widespread use of chemicals accompany tremendous lengthening of human life spans, deep cuts in infant mortality rates and the revival of most endangered species, isn't it time to acknowledge that the argument of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was a complete fallacy? Apparently the intelligentsia doesn't think so.
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jacquelyn sand
I'm french girl and i watch on TV a subject about Rachel Carson. I want to buy her book but i would find a french version. Can you help me?
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lisa nicholas
Having first read "Silent Spring" in 1970 as a crusading, idealistic, and ambitious marine ecology student, and after retiring from a career in marine ecosystem management, I am eager to read it a second time from my perspective 42 years later...until I read in the description who is the author of the foreword to the Kindle edition. I can't believe the publisher allowed a laughable, ignorant huckster such as Al Gore attach his name to such a groundbreaking work. It certainly has spoiled the Kindle edition for me. Guess I'll look for an old copy at Half Price Books.
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jana rosenbaum
This book started the leftist, environmentalist revolution. Carson, like so many others today, appeals to emotion and twisted findings rather than scientific facts. For one, she fails to mention that DDT is similar to saccharin in that it is only somewhat harmful in HUGE doses of usage. What is even more baffling than her distortion of the facts is that many people, including the many members of US government, buy into it. Before you jump to any conclusions, consider true scientific findings and research, done by groups other than Green Peace; and pay attention to both sides of the issue.
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mark johnson
I tried to read all of this book, here in Brazil.I'm an agronomist and I like to read books.DDT was responsable for cancer and destruction of wildlife.Nonsense;the realcause of hate for DDT is the fact of saved tens of millions of lifes;mainly of colored persons.Even the United States wiped out malaria, in 1952, because of large use of DDT.
While it's true that no worldwide ban on DDT was ever put into place, the hysteric public pressure, caused by this trash-book "Silent Spring" was enough to make the United States government ban its sale to third-world countries, and to stop sending aid to poor countries who used it.
Eugenics and ecology are the same bad thing.Racism is called "health" or "public interest" by both of these pseudo-sciences.The preservation of race was replaced by the preservation of nature;the goals, racism and prejudices of eugenics are now in ecology;another racist pseudo-science.
In fact the author of this trash-book died of cancer, while she never lived in place, with malaria and with using of DDT.
This is a classic of ecology, such as all books of Charles B. Davenport were classics of eugenics.The author never tells nothing about her racism, but she got what she want:the extermination of tens of millions of africans,asiatics and Latino-americans by malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever in the last four decades.
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I wish the book had more facts about certain geographic areas. It just wasn't my type of book. Too bad. I thought it would have been more interesting.
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jill cecil
Rachel Carson forgets to mention the huge benefits that pesticides have brought the world and massively overplays their supposed downside. Even the hated DDT has almost certainly saved millions of lives by helping to eradicate malaria in many parts of the now developed world. Pesticide use has resulted in a far higher fruit yield than would otherwise have been possible allowing more people to eat more fruit - and as everyone knows, fruit contains many anti-cancer substances. Set against this, the slight cancer risks caused by using pesticides,if there are any at all, are more than worth paying.
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jason hensel
Perhaps her cause was just in writing this book, but her short-sighted ignorance of the repercussions was inexcusable. Because of the ban on DDT which largely resulted from Silent Spring, the WHO has estimated that around 20 MILLION children have died of malaria.

DDT was, & still is, one of the very best insecticides to control mosquitoes, the sole transporter of this deadly disease. Best of all, DDT is very NON-toxic to humans.

The need for DDT is so urgent that even the Sierra Club is justifying it's use inside houses in malaria stricken locations of Africa, South America, & Asia.

Way to go Rachel. Save the Birds, Kill the Children...Wake Up People!!
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jill talley
To make a long story short, the EPA's own documentation and federal court finds that DDT is not harmful to humans. In addition, to prove his point, the president of a DDT manufacturer drank one pint of DDT with his lunch everyday for a year with no ill effects. In 1962, the number of cases of malaria in Africa had been widdled down to 15. Now there are 300 million cases reported each year of which about 6 million die.
It turns out that DDT is indeed harmful to birds. However, it is meant to be used indoors and applied to walls where birds don't go.
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