Silent Spring

Rachel Carson | 1962
This sensational book, Silent Spring (1962) by Rachel Carson, warned of the dangers to all natural systems from the misuse of chemical pesticides such as DDT, and questioned the scope and direction of modern science, initiating the contemporary environmental movement.

Silent Spring began with a “fable for tomorrow” – a true story using a composite of examples drawn from many real communities where the use of DDT had caused damage to wildlife, birds, bees, agricultural animals, domestic pets, and even humans. Carson used it as an introduction to a very scientifically complicated and already controversial subject. This “fable” made an indelible impression on readers and was used by critics to charge that Carson was a fiction writer and not a scientist.

Silent Spring, the winner of 8 awards*, is the history-making bestseller that stunned the world with its terrifying revelation about our contaminated planet. No science-fiction nightmare can equal the power of this authentic and chilling portrait of the unseen destroyers which have already begun to change the shape of life as we know it.

“Silent Spring is a devastating attack on human carelessness, greed and irresponsibility. It should be read by every American who does not want it to be the epitaph of a world not very far beyond us in time.” -Saturday Review

*Awards received by Rachel Carson for this book:

    • The Schweitzer Medal (Animal Welfare Institute)
    • The Constance Lindsay Skinner Achievement Award for merit in the realm of books (Women’s National Book Association)
    • Award for Distinguished Service (New England Outdoor Writers Association)
    • Conservation Award for 1962 (Rod and Gun Editors of Metropolitan Manhattan)
    • Conservationist of the Year (National Wildlife Federation)
    • 1963 Achievement Award (Albert Einstein College of Medicine — Women’s Division)
    • Annual Founders Award (Isaak Walton League)
    • Citation (International and U.S. Councils of Women)

President Jimmy Carter posthumously awarded Carson the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

‘Silent Spring’ inspired the modern environmental movement, which began in earnest a decade later. It is recognized as the environmental text that “changed the world.”

Serialised in three parts in The New Yorker, where President John F. Kennedy read it in the summer of 1962, Silent Spring was published in August and became an instant best-seller and the most talked about book in decades. Utilising her many sources in federal science and private research, Carson spent over six years documenting her analysis that humans were misusing powerful, persistent chemical pesticides before knowing the full extent of their potential harm to the whole biota. Read more




Carson, R. (1962) Silent Spring. Boston, Massachusetts, United States: Houghton Mifflin.

Carson, R. (2002) Silent Spring: The classic that launched the environmental movement [anniversary edition]. Boston, Massachusetts, United States: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Quotes from Silent Spring (source: goodreads).

This publication is part of Ecosystem City: Lessons from the Forest