cover image Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation

Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation

Dan Fagin. Bantam, $28 (560p) ISBN 978-0-553-80653-3

Most people know Toms River, N.J., as one of the areas devastated by Superstorm Sandy. But Fagin, an associate professor of journalism and the director of the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University, reveals an earlier, less conspicuous disaster in the region. In a well-documented exposé of toxic industrial plants, corporate greed, and government neglect, Fagin (Toxic Deception, coauthor) plays detective to reveal the excessive human cost of chemical manufacturing hubs in the Jersey pinelands. Fagin focuses his research on cancer hot spots and how they affect the development of local children, but he also delves deeper into the region’s tragic history by tracing the arrival of chemical plants in the early 1950s and chronicling the massive contamination of waterways, soil, and air that followed shortly thereafter. Determined to reclaim their health and lives, the residents waged a long legal campaign, which resulted in a pioneering government study, the revelation of an extensive cancer zone, and a settlement of over $35 million. A crisp, hard-nosed probe into corporate arrogance and the power of public resistance makes this environmental caper essential reading. Map. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Mar.)