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Historical Books


#Book Recommendation Lists #Books about the Environment #Historical Books


1y4e Team

Silent Spring Book Cover

Silent Spring

Often referenced as the primary book that popularized the environmental movement, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (published in 1962) brought concern about the harmful impacts of pesticides to the public consciousness. The spraying of a chemical compound called “DDT,” among other chemicals, killed birds and introduced toxins and carcinogens to the food industry as well as the water table. As a result of the book and Carson’s efforts to speak about these topics, the use of pesticides has become more regulated, the environmental movement grew, and the scientific community benefited from more ecofeminist scientists joining the field.

Definition: [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Spring ]

Action: [ https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/silent-spring_rachel-carson/246998/?resultid=6b46dcbe-4947-4313-a78e-f85756c59397#isbn=0618249060 ]

The Practice of the Wild Book Cover

Gary Snyder

In The Practice of the Wild and many other writings, poems, and activism, Gary Snyder brings a unique angle to Deep Ecology, which is an environmental movement and philosophy which regards human life as just one of many equal components of a global ecosystem. A native Californian who hung around with the Beats such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, Snyder also painted and practiced Zen Buddhism. He was one of the back-to-the-land movement participants in the early 1970’s and won a Pulitzer Prize for Turtle Island (1975), which is a Native American name for the North American continent. Snyder is currently 92 years young.

Definition: [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Snyder ]

Action: [ https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/the-practice-of-the-wild-essays_gary-snyder/264110/?resultid=6828f865-7d91-4720-a4ba-39a2cef80178#edition=26472736&idiq=40953577 ]

The Monkey Wrench Gang Book Cover

The Monkey Wrench Gang

Edward Abbey’s fictional work The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975) tells the tale of four passionate early environmentalists who became fed up with “the system” and decided to take matters into their own hands via direct action against the machines “destroying nature,” ultimately focusing on the Glen Canyon Dam. The characters are quite different from each other: a wealthy surgeon, a river guide, a Jewish feminist, and a Vietnam veteran who somehow join forces to pour sand into the fuel tanks of bulldozers, blast power lines, and more as a protest against the proliferation of highways and the profits gained by unlimited growth. It’s a romp of anarchy and spaghetti westerns that inspired the formation of the eco-activist group Earth First! and continues today in spirit with various groups such as Greenpeace, Environmental Resistance, and more.

Definition: [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkey_Wrench_Gang ]

Action: [ https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/the-monkey-wrench-gang_edward-abbey/252292/#edition=4716211&idiq=3819398 ]

The Last Whole Earth Catalog Book Cover

Whole Earth Catalog

An inspiration for so many, proudly including our One Year for Earth effort, is Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog. This idealistic and wide-ranging magazine/product catalog (in the era when those were very much in use, see the Sears Catalog) included many useful and even some conceptual items, from DIY tools to books to Buckminster Fuller’s domes, synthesizers to Women’s Health Collectives, yurts to juicers to nomadism to the United Nations — there’s something for everyone in these publications. With the iconic “earthrise” image on the cover of the first edition, the Whole Earth Catalog and the ensuing “supplemental” catalogs contain multitudes. The environmental movement was active and people were generating the idea of the first “Earth Day” (in 1970) and heading “back to the land” as the original runs of the Catalogs changed after 1972 and have been followed by sporadic iterations including editions on software, internet, hacking, and many follow-on projects inspired by the initial effort.

Definition: [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_Earth_Catalog ]

Action: [ https://archive.org/details/wholeearth ]

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Book Cover

Annie Dillard

The way Annie Dillard writes on natural events is sometimes a natural wonder in itself. Her essay Total Eclipse describes the experience in such a visceral way that one can vicariously feel her otherworldly experience, and the same goes for many of her interactions with the natural world, particularly in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974), which was hailed as one of the “century’s best nonfiction books” by Random House and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975. Dillard touches on many spiritual practices in her musings, poetry, and narrative nonfiction, as well as the lives of the first European settlers in the Pacific Northwest and travel to places like the Galapagos.

Definition: [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_Dillard ]

Action: [ http://www.anniedillard.com/books-annie-dillard.html ]