Rites of Spring

At 50, Rachel Carson's ecology classic is still under attack

When my predecessors at time reviewed ecologist Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring 50 years ago this month, they were less than impressed. While the piece praised her graceful writing style, it argued that Carson's "emotional and inaccurate outburst" was "hysterically overemphatic," which I believe is a fancy way of saying that the lady writer let her feelings get the best of her.

TIME's take was gentle compared with the reactions of some of her other contemporary critics. As William Souder writes in his new biography of Carson, On a Farther Shore, chemical companies threatened her with lawsuits after she argued that...

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