The Life, Legacy, and Writings of Rachel Carson

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Rachel Carson, writer, scientist, and ecologist, grew up simply in the rural river town of Springdale, Pennsylvania. Her mother bequeathed to her a life-long love of nature and the living world that Rachel expressed first as a writer and later as a student of marine biology.

Rachel Carson wrote four books. The fifth, The Sense of Wonder was published posthumously. All of Carson's books are still in print. Your local library will have copies, and so will many independent bookstores and used book stores.

Under the Sea-Wind
New York, Oxford University Press (1941)
ISBN-10: 0140253807
Under the Sea-Wind is Carson's first book and her personal favorite. Under the Sea-Wind takes you beneath the waves with the same kind of intimacy and wonder that made the documentaries Winged Migration and March of the Penguins such masterpieces of nature-immersion. It is the book that first established Carson as perhaps our most prescient and influential observer of the natural world.

The Sea Around Us
New York, Oxford University Press (1951)
ISBN-10: 0195069978
The Sea Around Us is based on geographical evidence and is a study of the processes that formed the earth, the moon, and the oceans. The Sea Around Us is one of the most remarkably successful books ever written about the natural world. Rachel Carson's rare ability to combine scientific insight with moving, poetic prose catapulted her book to first place on The New York Times best-seller list, where it enjoyed wide attention for thirty-one consecutive weeks.

The Edge of the Sea
Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company (1955)
ISBN-10: 0395924960
The Edge of the Sea is a practical guide to identifying the inhabitants of the sea and the marshes, tide pools, and shallows that border it—a world which mirrors the "spectacle of life in all its varied manifestations as it has appeared, evolved, died out."

Silent Spring
Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company (2002)
ISBN-10: 0618249060
Silent Spring, released in 1962, offered the first shattering look at widespread ecological degradation and touched off an environmental awareness that still exists. Rachel Carson's book focused on the poisons from insecticides, weed killers, and other common products as well as the use of sprays in agriculture, a practice that led to dangerous chemicals to the food source. Carson argued that those chemicals were more dangerous than radiation and that for the first time in history, humans were exposed to chemicals that stayed in their systems from birth to death. Presented with thorough documentation, the book opened more than a few eyes about the dangers of the modern world and stands today as a landmark work.

The Sense of Wonder
by Rachel Carson, photographs by Charles Pratt
New York, Harper & Row (posthumous, 1965)
ISBN-10: 006757520X
Not long before she died in 1964, the noted environmental writer Rachel Carson wrote an essay for Woman's Home Companion magazine called "Helping Your Child to Wonder." In that essay—reprinted here, with photographs of natural subjects by Nick Kelsh—Carson urged parents to take their children to wild places in order to introduce them to the astonishing variety of life that exists all around us: to study birds, listen to the winds, and observe the stars. Too much of the child's subsequent education, she warns, will be devoted to dimming that "clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring" with which children are born; it is the parent's task to be an adult guide who can in turn rediscover the "excitement and mystery of the world we live in." Carson's words are timely, and this beautifully illustrated edition makes a fine gift for new and prospective mothers and fathers.

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Linda Lear
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Environmental Health
Hazardous Waste
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