Adventures in Reading

Revisited Reviews: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
July 15, 2008, 8:48 am
Filed under: book reviews, nonfiction | Tags: , , , ,

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 While both the book and the song are a bit outdated in the United States as DDT was banned in 1972, it’s still an interesting analysis of insecticides/herbicides, societies relationship with science, and the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?”

Silent Spring was a groundbreaking book when it came out, though various books and articles since then – many of which I would consider with a few grains of salt – have disputed with a variety of Carson’s sources and comments. But I do think the basic premise of the book, human’s impact on the environment, is an important one. However, I am still surprised to see Carson’s Silent Spring regularly reappear on student reading lists if only because the book is outdated and other more contemporary books, Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire comes to mind, are available.

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