Rachel Carson's Silent Spring antagonized some of the most powerful interests in the nationincluding the farm block and the agricultural chemical industryand helped launch the modern environmental movement. In The Gentle Subversive, Mark Hamilton Lytle offers a compact biography of Carson, illuminating the road that led to this vastly influential book.
Lytle explores the evolution of Carson's ideas about nature, her love for the sea, her career as a biologist, and above all her emergence as a writer of extraordinary moral and ecological vision. We follow Carson from her childhood on a farm outside Pittsburgh, where she first developed her love of nature (and where, at age eleven, she published her first piece in a children's magazine), to her graduate work at Johns Hopkins and her career with the Fish and Wildlife Service. Lytle describes the genesis of her first book, Under the Sea-Wind, the incredible success of The Sea Around Us (a New York Times bestseller for over a year), and her determination to risk her fame in order to write her "poison book": Silent Spring. The author contends that despite Carson's demure, lady-like demeanor, she was subversive in her thinking and aggressive in her campaign against pesticides. Carson became the spokeswoman for a network of conservationists, scientists, women, and other concerned citizens who had come to fear the mounting dangers of the human assault on nature. What makes this story particularly compelling is that Carson took up this cause at the very moment when she herself faced a losing battle with cancer.
Succinct and engaging, The Gentle Subversive is a story of success, celebrity, controversy, and vindication. It will inspire anyone interested in protecting the natural world or in women's struggle to find a voice in society.
About the Author
Mark Hamilton Lytle is Professor of History and Environmental Studies at Bard College. He is the author of America's Uncivil Wars: The Sixties Era from Elvis to the Fall of Richard Nixon (OUP, 2006) and coauthor of After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection, Fifth Edition (2005), and Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the American Republic, Fifth Edition (2004).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very useful life story highlighting the competitions and stresses of the biologist-bureaucrat turned writer and renowned naturalist. From university to Washington DC government service, and home in Maryland & Maine, to commercially incorruptible writer of ecologies and fighter. Silent Warrior indeed.