In Silent Spring Revolution, Douglas Brinkley pays tribute to those who combated the mauling of the natural world in the Long Sixties: Rachel Carson (a marine biologist and author), David Brower (director of the Sierra Club), Barry Commoner (an environmental justice advocate), Coretta Scott King (an antinuclear activist), Stewart Udall (the secretary of the interior), William O. Douglas (Supreme Court justice), Cesar Chavez (a labor organizer), and other crusaders are profiled with verve and insight.
Carson’s book Silent Spring, published in 1962, depicted how detrimental DDT was to living creatures. The exposé launched an ecological revolution that inspired such landmark legislation as the Wilderness Act (1964), the Clean Air Acts (1963 and 1970), and the Endangered Species Acts (1966, 1969, and 1973). In intimate detail, Brinkley extrapolates on such epic events as the Donora (Pennsylvania) smog incident, JFK’s Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Great Lakes preservation, the Santa Barbara oil spill, and the first Earth Day.
With the United States grappling with climate change and resource exhaustion, Douglas Brinkley’s meticulously researched and deftly written Silent Spring Revolution reminds us that a new generation of twenty-first-century environmentalists can save the planet from ruin.
Douglas Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University, a CNN Presidential Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He has received seven honorary doctorates in American Studies. He works in many capacities in the world of public history, including for boards, museums, colleges and historical societies. Six of his books were named New York Times “Notable Books of the Year” and seven became New York Times bestsellers.