What a Book Can Do: The Publication and Reception of Silent Spring
In 1962 the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring sparked wide-spread public debate on the issue of pesticide abuse and environmental degradation. The discussion permeated the entire print and electronic media system of mid-twentieth-century America. Although Carson's text was serialized in the New Yorker, it made a significant difference that it was also published as a book. With clarity and precision, Priscilla Coit Murphy explores the importance of the book form for the author, her editors and publishers, her detractors, the media, and the public at large. Murphy reviews the publishing history of the Houghton Mifflin edition and the prior New Yorker serialization, describing Carson's approach to her project as well as the views and expectations of her editors. She also documents the response of opponents to Carson's message, notably the powerful chemical industry, including efforts to undermine, delay, or stop publication altogether. Murphy then investigates the media's role, showing that it went well beyond providing a forum for debate. In addition, she analyzes the perceptions and expectations of the general public regarding the book, the debate, and the media. By probing all of these perspectives, Murphy sheds new light on the dynamic between newsmaking books, the media, and the public. In the process, she addresses a host of broader questions about the place of books in American culture, past, present, and future.
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What A Book Can Do: The Publication And Reception Of Silent Spring (Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book (Hardcover))User Review - Book Verdict
Independent scholar Murphy provides an in-depth study of the controversy surrounding Rachel Carson's Silent Spring , first published in 1962 as a serialized article in The New Yorker and later as a book. Her work explores the interaction between books and the media, the significance of the book format to Carson's message on the dangers of chemical pesticides, and the role played by publishers, media, opposition, and readers in the ensuing debate. Students of media studies will benefit from a close-up view of the publishing world, while readers familiar with Carson will admire her courage and tenacity as she battled terminal cancer and daunting opposition. There is an eerie feeling that Murphy is actually writing about a current event--Silent Spring is still apropos, corporate America remains a formidable foe against regulatory legislation, and the government is still selective in its acceptance of science. With its copious notes and extensive appendix on theory and methodology, this work is recommended for academic libraries and larger public libraries.--Maureen J. Delaney-Lehman, Lake Superior State Univ., Sault Ste. Marie, MI
Silent Spring and Its Contexts The Right to Know
Author and Agent Where an Author Can Call His Soul His Own
Editors and Publishers Dealing with a SuperRuckus
Opposition How Do You Fight a BestSeller?
Media One Formidable Indictment
Audience This Ought to Be a Book
CONCLUSION Speaking Truth to Power
Perspectives on the Study of Silent Spring