THE HOUSE OF LIFE: Rachel Carson at Work by Paul Brooks

THE HOUSE OF LIFE: Rachel Carson at Work

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This is essentially a Rachel Carson reader in which representative selections from her published work are complemented by Brooks' quiet biographical addenda which, although carefully respecting the privacy so important to Miss Carson, do offer revealing anecdotage and commentary. The twin interests of her academic career -- literature and natural history -- resulted in a firm respect for both precision and responsibility. She detested slovenly English as much as muzzy research. But she also applied to all her work a reverence for living creatures: ""What is important is the relation of man to all life."" Brooks reviews Miss Carson's career which began with the Fish and Wildlife Services (when usually ponderous government pamphlets were revivified by some fresh and original prose), leading to the genesis of early articles and the major works. Silent Spring was written at the close of a life burdened with difficult family responsibilities and increasing disability -- in essence a self-imposed obligation. After the initial reaction to the book from Shawn of the New Yorker, Miss Carson wrote to a friend, ""suddenly the tension of four years was broken and I let the tears come. . . . I could never again listen happily to a thrush song if I had not done all I could."" A fine introduction to the work of Rachel Carson for newcomers, and also a tribute to a distinguished naturalist and conservationist whose work has been endemically summarized by David Brower: ""She did her homework, she minded her English, and she cared."" With an inset of photographs and cartoons, a worthy complement to Graham's Since Silent Spring (1969).

Pub Date: March 13th, 1972
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin