Publication of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring"
Silent Spring is a book written by Rachel Carson and published by Houghton Mifflin in September 1962.
The book is widely credited with helping launch the environmental movement.
The New Yorker started serializing Silent Spring in June 1962, and it was published in book form 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 in 1972 in the United States.
The book documented detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds. Carson said that DDT had been found to cause thinner egg shells and result in reproductive problems and death. She also 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 #78 in the conservative National Review. Most recently, Silent Spring was named one of the 25 greatest science books of all time by the editors of Discover Magazine.
A follow-up book, Beyond Silent Spring, co-authored by H.F. van Emden and David Peakall, was published in 1996.
Although their role will probably always be less celebrated than wars, marches, riots or stormy political campaigns, it is books that have at times most powerfully influenced social change in American life. Thomas Paine's Common Sense galvanized radical sentiment in the early days of the American revolution; Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe roused Northern antipathy to slavery in the decade leading up to the Civil War; and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which in 1962 exposed the hazards of the pesticide DDT, eloquently questioned humanity's faith in technological progress and helped set the stage for the environmental movement.