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On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson    by William Souder order for
On a Farther Shore
by William Souder
Order:  USA  Can
Broadway, 2013 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Rachel Carson very much influenced how we live now. Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, said that 'Rachel is a great green heroine, the first person to combine her love of the natural world with a penetrating glance at industrial modernity. William Souder captures her importance in this engaging biography.'

Rachel Carson was one-of-a-kind. Her deep love of the oceans and denizens of the deep caused her to realize that the way the seas were being polluted was causing great damage to the waters and the creatures who lived in them, and despaired of their future.

A naturalist who foresaw the damage the world's populations were doing to the environment, she wrote books, articles and essays to alert us to what harm was being done by the use of chemicals to control insects. She did not ask that the use be stopped, just used with better standards and control.

She's considered the founder of the environmental movement. She wrote three books about the mysteries of the oceans, including The Sea around Us, an international bestseller. Her fourth book, Silent Spring, was the one that finally woke us up to the destruction we were doing with pesticides: for example inadvertently killing bird life with the indiscriminate spraying of the pesticide DDT. She claimed that if it continued we would have just that a silent spring with no bird calls to herald its arrival.

Apart from her almost lifelong quest to save the environment, Rachel Carson was a quiet and unassuming woman, with few friends. The ones she had were steadfast in their relationships and the love they had for her. She struggled with her writing, sometimes going months and even years past her deadlines. But her books sold in the millions worldwide.

It is impossible to synopsize this brilliant woman's life in a short review. I wasn't sure when I first picked up On a Farther Shore that I would find it holding my interest. Wrong! It is well-written and I am sure Rachel Carson herself would have approved. I would have loved to have known her. This is a very good book about a fascinating lady.

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