SEJ Member Spotlight: William Souder
William Souder has reported on a wide variety of environmental subjects and is the author of three books. A Plague of Frogs (2000) followed the investigation into outbreaks of deformed frogs across North America. Under a Wild Sky (2004), a biography of John James Audubon, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Souder’s latest, On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson, will be published on September 4, 2012, marking the 50th anniversary of Carson's Silent Spring — and, by extension, a half century of environmentalism.
The book traces Carson’s development as a writer, as she rose from obscurity as an information specialist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to become one of America’s most famous and beloved authors. In 1951, her book The Sea Around Us was an international sensation, won a National Book Award, and stood atop the New York Times Sunday Book Review’s bestseller list for thirty-nine consecutive weeks.
Silent Spring, Carson’s bristling and carefully researched 1962 polemic against the indiscriminate use of pesticides, such as DDT, touched off a firestorm, alarming the public and making Carson the target of withering attacks from the chemicals industry, agricultural interests, and the allies of both in government — the massed might of the establishment. Taking the side of science and the defense of nature, Carson drew a parallel between the heedless contamination of the environment by pesticides and by the then-pervasive fallout from nuclear testing. Silent Spring remains one of the most important books of the 20th century, and Carson stands among the most influential figures of her era.