The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement
Biologist Rachel Carson (1907-1964), an outspoken forerunner of the environmental movement and author of the National Book Award-winning The Sea Around Us (1951), is best known for her groundbreaking, highly controversial tome Silent Spring (1962), a scathing expose of the effects of DDT and other pesticides. In this brief, fascinating ecological biography by historian and fellow environmentalist Lytle, Carson's life is separated into four chapters?Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter-each focusing on the genesis, gestation and publication of Carson's four books. Lytle takes care in balancing his account, devoting equal attention to Carson's family life (for decades, Carson took care of her ailing mother, sister and nieces) as well as the arduous path of her career. Although she ultimately achieved wide recognition both as a writer and an ecologist, clearing the way for landmark environmental policy change, Carson endured staggering setbacks, including years of overcoming gender prejudice in a male-dominated field, her costly familial burden and several battles with recurring breast cancer?a fight she would ultimately lose at age 56. Lytle's spirited, thoroughly documented re-telling sheds ample light on the implications of this remarkable scientist's commitment to ""protect the living things she loved so dearly."" Photos.