cover image Rebel with a Conscience

Rebel with a Conscience

Russell W. Peterson. University of Delaware Press, $40 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-87413-681-4

""You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give."" Throughout his inspiring memoir, Peterson shows how strongly he has taken that aphorism to heart. In 1968, Peterson, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry, retired from a flourishing, 26-year career at DuPont to pursue a life of public service. The organizational and management skills he had refined in the business world formed the backbone of his successful campaign to become governor of Delaware. From his new office, Peterson led the restructuring of the antiquated executive branch, drastically improved funding for education and pushed forward the controversial Coastal Zone Act, which prevented the state's beautiful wetlands from being turned into the site of a major oil-industrial complex. After losing his bid for reelection, Peterson went on to influential positions as the chairman of the Presidential Council on Environmental Quality, the head of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the president of the National Audubon Society, among others. Though Peterson's writing can be dry, it is balanced by his contagious enthusiasm and optimistic faith in the possibilities of civic activism. Photos not seen by PW. (Apr.)