The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement

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Oxford University Press, USA, Jan 17, 2007 - Science - 288 pages
2 Reviews
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring antagonized some of the most powerful interests in the nation--including the farm block and the agricultural chemical industry--and helped launch the modern environmental movement. In The Gentle Subversive, Mark Hamilton Lytle offers a compact life of Carson, illuminating the road that led to this vastly influential book. Lytle explores the evolution of Carson's ideas about nature, her love for the sea, her career as a biologist, and above all her emergence as a writer of extraordinary moral and ecological vision. We follow Carson from her childhood on a farm outside Pittsburgh, where she first developed her love of nature (and where, at age eleven, she published her first piece in a children's magazine), to her graduate work at Johns Hopkins and her career with the Fish and Wildlife Service. Lytle describes the genesis of her first book, Under a Sea Wind, the incredible success of The Sea Around Us (a New York Times Bestseller for over a year), and her determination to risk her fame in order to write her "poison book": Silent Spring. The author contends that despite Carson's demure, lady-like demeanor, she was subversive in her thinking and aggressive in her campaign against pesticides. Carson became the spokeswoman for a network of conservationists, scientists, and concerned citizens who had come to fear the mounting dangers of the human assault on nature. What makes this story particularly compelling is that Carson took up this cause at the very moment when she herself faced a losing battle against cancer. Succinct and engaging, The Gentle Subversive is a story of success, celebrity, controversy, and vindication. It will inspire anyone interested in protecting the natural world or in women's struggle to find a voice in society.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - quantum_flapdoodle - LibraryThing

A short and somewhat unsatisfying biography of Rachel Carson that was released for the 100th anniversary of her birth. The author covers most of the ground, but leaves a lot more unanswered than he answers in many cases. Read full review

The gentle subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent spring, and the rise of the environmental movement

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Lytle (history & environmental studies, Bard Coll.; American history, University Coll., Dublin;America's Uncivil Wars ) examines the life of Rachel Carson, founder of today's environmental movement ... Read full review

About the author (2007)

Mark Hamilton Lytle is Professor of History and Environmental Studies and Department Chair of the Historical Studies Program at Bard College, and Mary Ball Washington Professor of American History at University College Dublin. He is co-author of After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection and Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the American Republic, and author of America's Uncivil Wars: The Sixties Era from Elvis to the Fall of Richard Nixon.

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