LOVE CANAL: My Story by Lois Marie with Murray Levine Gibbs


Email this review


Yes, the whistle-blowing president of the Love Canal Homeowners' Association is now telling her own story--vividly and involvingly but with little substantive new information (and with some hampering reticence). Gibbs' account begins with her discovery that the local school--attended by her (incomprehensibly) ailing son Michael--had been built over a chemical dumpsite. Hooker Chemical, she ascertained, had sold the land for $1 plus a document absolving Hooker of all further responsibility. Soon, dangerous substances were surfacing all over Love Canal; the air was often unbreathable; basements filled with carcinogenic ooze. And residents complained of numerous inexplicable illnesses. To calls for help, the New York State Health Department invariably replied that it was ""investigating."" So Gibbs, convinced that the community was being poisoned, transformed herself from a rather timid housewife into the bane of obfuscating officials and scientists; and, aided by her intuitively masterly handling of the media, she led the long struggle to have residents relocated and, finally, compensated for the loss of their homes. This side of the tragedy, however, is already well known (Greg Mitchell's account, in Truth. . . And Consequences, p. 1329, is based on Gibbs' experience), while the scientific aspects are covered more adequately in both Michael Brown's Laying Waste (1980) and Ralph Nader's Who's Poisoning America (p. 620). And Gibbs declines' to explore aspects of the situation that she, in particular, would know--such as Love Canal's emotional fallout (the clashes between rival pressure groups, the broken marriages, the disturbed children). A marginal addition, then, to the record--though some will still want to hear directly from the woman who made Love Canal a cause cÉlèbre.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1981
Publisher: State Univ. of New York Press