The Myth of Silent Spring: Rethinking the Origins of American Environmentalism

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by Chad Montrie

University of California Press

1/26/2018, paperback

SKU: 9780520291348


The Myth of Silent Spring challenges the widely held belief that Rachel Carson's celebrated 1962 book catalyzed the American environmental movement. While acknowledging the important contribution of Carson's exposâe, this book draws on a bounty of rich sources to push the movement's origins further back in time. It recognizes a long line of overlooked historical actors and identifies several other critical factors behind the rise of modern environmental thinking and protest. Recovering this slighted history helps us to better understand who should count as an 'environmentalist' and what should count as 'environmentalism,' essential insights for building a hardy environmental movement today and in the future.


"The Myth of Silent Spring finds the origins of modern environmental consciousness in the history of the American worker--autoworker and farmworker, socialist and social worker, union rank-and-file and inner-city black--showing us a world not only unexplored, but largely unimagined by environmental historians. This book rewrites the history of environmentalism, infusing it with contemporary relevance."--Richard W. Judd, author of Common Lands, Common People: The Origins of Conservation in Northern New England

"A much-needed synthesis of current scholarship on environmentalism 'from the bottom up' Montrie introduces us to a whole host of forgotten working-class, Latino, African American, immigrant, and female green activists. In so doing, he shows us that environmentalism was always far more than simply a white suburban initiative."--Colin Fisher, author of Urban Green: Nature, Recreation, and the Working Class in Industrial Chicago

About the Author:

Chad Montrie is Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is the author of several books, including A People's History of Environmentalism in the United States.