depressingly timeless


Carson artfully linked radioactive fallout with the indiscriminate use of pesticides; they were, Souder writes, the “twin fears of the modern age.” The parallels between the chemicals were, to Carson, exact and inescapable: both were invisible, acutely toxic, mutagenic and had effects that could last for generations. Such negative impacts, Carson believed, were the consequence of the “impetuous and heedless pace of man rather than the deliberate pace of nature.” Carson had a knack for encapsulating big ideas and for saying exactly what she meant. Her voice could be clear and plain (“The problem that concerns us here . . . ”) or poetical (she feared “a sterile world ungraced by the curving wing of a bird in flight”). But none of this came easily. Souder paints Carson as an obsessive reviser and a meticulous researcher who was often blocked, she said, by her uneasiness that human beings had acquired the power to reshape the world so profoundly.

more from Elizabeth Royte at the NY Times here.