"Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit. "
~ Jawaharlal Nehru

Bookshelf
Silent Spring ~ Rachel Carson

Lakshmy Raman reviews Silent Spring,a passionate, yet scientific exposť of the effects of pesticides that highlights the "irresponsibility of an industrialized, technological society toward the natural world."
Published by Other India Press
Price: Rs. 175/-
Courtesy: Sanctuary Magazine

"There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings... Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change... There was a strange stillness... The few birds seen anywhere were moribund; they trembled violently and could not fly. It was a spring without voices."

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Environment
Chemical Warfare
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book cover Silent Spring is a passionate, yet scientific exposť of the effects of pesticides that highlights the "irresponsibility of an industrialized, technological society toward the natural world." Over 17 chapters, Carson tells the reader how the chemicals we use so liberally in fields, forests and homes are stealthily poisoning us. Examining the effects of chemicals on songbird populations in the US, she writes "spraying destroys not only the insects but also their principal enemy, the birds. When later there is a resurgence of the insect population, as almost always happens, the birds are not there to keep their numbers in check."

First published in 1962, the book rankled the chemical and food industry but also generated widespread support. It is credited with initiating the American environmental movement and set off a wave of legislation including an eventual ban on DDT. Even though much of the language in the book is scientific with details of how chemicals such as DDT widely used by farmers enter the food chain, her poetic style and genuine concern will interest even the lay person. She follows DDT's trail through the food chain zeroing in on the consequences - dead birds, malignancies in fish and frogs in rivers, liver and central nervous system damage in human beings and genetic disorders. A huge price to pay to free crops of pests!

Silent Spring exhorts us to become informed and act before more streams become 'rivers of death'. Well worth reading and re-reading even 40 years after this eloquently crafted work was first published. This special Indian edition published by Other India Press is very welcome and will provide Indian readers access to this compelling and haunting book.


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