Silent Spring and the New York Times: How Rachel Carson Won the Journey

Kushal S. Shah

Abstract


This paper explores people’s reception of and attitudes toward Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, originally published in 1962. Research was conducted entirely through the lens of The New York Times (NYT) articles ranging from before the book’s publication to the present. The articles vary heavily in perspective, representing a range of views towards Carson’s vilification of both the pesticide industry and general American attitudes regarding environmental conservation. Articles from NYT represent public opinion well because the chosen articles come from views representing a variety of sources (corporations, scientists, book reviewers, historians, etc.) and perspectives ranging from maximum support to open criticism of the book. When observed over time, research into these articles tells the story of the change in acceptance of Silent Spring – how it has reached its current state of reverence and influence. This paper comprehensively examines a variety of articles regarding Silent Spring and America’s environmental efforts, tracking the change of general attitudes over the 50 years since its publication.


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