On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson

William Souder, Author
William Souder. Crown, $30 (528p) ISBN 978-0-307-46220-6
Reviewed on: 06/18/2012
Release date: 09/04/2012
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-11870-6
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-0-307-46221-3
Open Ebook - 312 pages - 978-0-307-46222-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-4708-2665-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-4708-2663-5
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In this expansive, nuanced biography, Souder (Under a Wild Sky) portrays Carson as a woman passionate in friendship, poetic and innovative in her books about the sea, gentle but ambitious, assiduously keeping tabs on her publisher’s promotion of her work. A writer since childhood, Carson, inspired by a college professor, developed a love for biology and combined her two passions in a career that included three bestselling books. A “spinster” and professional in a time when marriage was the norm, Carson supported her family all her life, first her mother and siblings, later adopting her nephew, and followed her vision with an artist’s determination. Extending beyond Carson’s immediate biography, Souder meanders into the lives of writers who influenced her and devotes long sections to the hydrogen bomb and cold war anxiety about nuclear annihilation, the chemistry of pesticides like DDT and their flagrant postwar use, and an emerging understanding of ecology. Carson, under severe stress and exhaustion from a cancer that took her life, synthesized these issues in Silent Spring, a meticulously researched, policy-changing picture of an Earth poisoned by humanity; she died shortly after its publication in 1962. Fifty years later, her insights are surprisingly relevant: “We’re challenged as mankind has never been challenged before to prove our maturity and our mastery not of nature, but of ourselves.” Agent: Chuck Verrill, Darhansoff Verrill Feldman. (Sept.)
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