In 1962 Marine Biologist and writer Rachel Carson published her 4th book; Silent Spring, a work that took her over 4 years to complete, while much of that time secretly battling cancer. The Finished product would become one of the most important books of the decade, and perhaps the 20th century. It was the book she would become best known for even though it was the only one that was not about the oceans (or at least not entirely) of which she had written of so eloquently in her three previous books.
Every Spring I’m reminded of Ms. Carson and her book that literally set in motion a gradual and prolonged elevation of environmental consciousness throughout the world. Though I’ve only read it once, Silent Spring left a powerful and lasting impact on me and how I think about our natural world (or as Carl Sagan once called it the pale blue dot) we call home and the impact mankind bestows upon it year after year, decade after decade.
Back in 1962, however, the idea’s and questions Rachel Carson so bravely raised to the surface were ahead of their time. No one else was asking them. Man was intent on beating nature into submission by whatever means necessary, and without fully weighing the costs.
This spring Netflix is featuring Michelle Ferrari’s excellent 2017 documentary for PBS’s American Experience simply titled: Rachel Carson. This is an in-depth look into the life of the biologist and author, including keen insights from family member’s, colleagues, and friends.
If you’ve never read the book Silent Spring (1962, Houghton Mifflin) I highly recommend you give it a shot. Even though many of the poisonous pesticides named in the book such as DDT have since been banned and replaced by newer, so-called better, safer chemicals, somehow the book seems as relevant today as ever.
As an addition to a home library, or collector’s seeking notables from the decade, or of the entire 19th century for that matter, this book is a no brainer. I would place it in the top 10 must have’s of the 1960’s. And there were many important works from that decade. For collector’s seeking First Printing’s they are available and not terribly rare or expensive. I’ve listed a few nice looking options at the links below.