Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962.
Written with both passion and authority, Silent Spring is Rachel Carson's effort to awaken people to the dangers of toxic chemical pollutants. Published in the early 1960's, Silent Spring is anything but silent and has been credited in the 1990's as the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Carson, at one time a marine biologist for the Fish and Wildlife Service, opens the book by painting an image of an imaginary town with thriving farms, wildlife, waterways, and people. Everything inexplicably then begins to decay or die. After explaining in simple terms the chemistry of pesticides and the biology of humans and nature, Carson illustrates the danger of the chemicals found in everything from pesticides (DDT in particular) to household products through disturbing case histories of both individual and governmental pesticide use 'gone wrong,' or long term exposure to toxins. She contends that in either case the result is the death of forests, fish, birds, mammals and ultimately the death of the human body via cell poisoning --cancer. Provocative and encouraging because of the alternatives she suggests, Silent Spring turns on its head the notion that man, meaning literally men and scientists in particular control the natural world. Nature modifies and adjusts in response to scientific control and in turn controls science. Carson's contention is that the balance of nature is critical to the survival of humanity. She illustrates the detrimental ways that culture and nature are linked within the American capitalistic landscape and calls for a change from this type of relationship to one encouraging educated, environmentally-oriented science and public consumption. [M. Enloe]