Silent Spring: From ‘Hysteria’ to History

It is not only the 50th anniversary of Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring, but also the 50th anniversary of the vitriolic reaction to the book.

In the September 28, 1962 edition of Time Magazine, there’s a news item called “Pesticides: the Price for Progress.” The article calls Silent Spring “patently unsound” and states that Carson’s “emotional and inaccurate outburst in Silent Spring may do harm by alarming the nontechnical public.” It even uses the “H” word, noting that the “scientists, physicians and other technically informed people… consider [Silent Spring] unfair, one-sided and hysterically overemphatic.”

But Carson was right and her critics were wrong. Carson died of breast cancer 18 months after Silent Spring’s publication and sadly never lived to see her book change the way people and governments think about pesticides.

(Image: The “book of the month club” edition of Silent Spring. Source: Wikimedia.)

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