"How 'Silent Spring' Ignited the Environmental Movement"

"On June 4, 1963, less than a year after the controversial environmental classic 'Silent Spring' was published, its author, Rachel Carson, testified before a Senate subcommittee on pesticides. She was 56 and dying of breast cancer. She told almost no one. She'd already survived a radical mastectomy. Her pelvis was so riddled with fractures that it was nearly impossible for her to walk to her seat at the wooden table before the Congressional panel. To hide her baldness, she wore a dark brown wig."

"'Every once in a while in the history of mankind, a book has appeared which has substantially altered the course of history,' Senator Ernest Gruen­ing, a Democrat from Alaska, told Carson at the time.

'Silent Spring' was published 50 years ago this month. Though she did not set out to do so, Carson influenced the environmental movement as no one had since the 19th century's most celebrated hermit, Henry David Thoreau, wrote about Walden Pond."

Eliza Griswold reports for the New York Times Magazine September 21, 2012.

Source: NY Times Magazine, 09/24/2012