Silent Spring ~ Rachel Carson


Honoring the 42nd Anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2012, reminded me of the late 1960s during my college days in Singapore when I read a Time Magazine article featuring Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring. Inspired by her environmental activism, I quickly got hold of the book at the National Library (As a student, one could hardly afford buying a book). Public awareness and the environmental movement were hardly heard of during those days…but the issues that Rachel raised in her book and her unflinching commitment, left a deep imprint in my consciousness.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the book publication, and it would be fitting on this Earth Day to highlight Rachel Carson’s immense contribution towards the importance of civic and environmental responsibility.

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The Book-of-the-Month Club edition, with included endorsement by Justice William O. Douglas Silent Spring is a book written by Rachel Carson and published by Houghton Mifflin on September 27, 1962.[1] The book is widely credited with helping launch the environmental movement.[2]

The New Yorker started serializing Silent Spring in June 1962, and it was published in book form (with illustrations by Lois and Louis Darling) by Houghton Mifflin later that year. When the book Silent Spring was published, Rachel Carson was already a well-known writer on natural history, but had not previously been a social critic. The book was widely read—especially after its selection by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the New York Times best-seller list—and inspired widespread public concerns with pesticides and pollution of the environment. Silent Spring facilitated the ban of the pesticide DDT[3] in 1972 in the United States.

The book documented detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds. Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation, and public officials of accepting industry claims uncritically.

Silent Spring has been featured in many lists of the best nonfiction books of the twentieth century. In the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Nonfiction it was at #5, and it was at No.78 in the conservative National Review.[4] Most recently, Silent Spring was named one of the 25 greatest science books of all time by the editors of Discover Magazine.[5]


Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist and conservationist whose writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.

Carson began her career as a biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us won her a U.S. National Book Award,[1] recognition as a gifted writer, and financial security. Her next book, The Edge of the Sea, and the reissued version of her first book, Under the Sea Wind, were also bestsellers. That so-called sea trilogy explores the whole of ocean life from the shores to the surface to the depths.

Late in the 1950s Carson turned her attention to conservation, especially the environmental problems caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was Silent Spring (1962), which brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people. Although Silent Spring met with fierce denial by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides, and it inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


Dying to be Heard tells the story of Michigan State University professor Dr. George J. Wallace, who discovered a link between DDT and dying birds on the MSU campus. His work was highlighted in Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring,” which helped launch the modern environmental movement.

The Emmy award winning film, produced by instructor, Lou D’Aria and his students in MSU’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, is based on MSU professor Jim Detjen’s editorial “Breaking the ‘Silence'” that first appeared in the fall 2005 issue of student produced EJ Magazine. It was broadcast by all six PBS stations in Michigan and continues to be aired.

Rachel Carson: The Impact of Silent Spring

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