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The Book-of-the-Month Club edition, with included endorsement by William O. Douglas
|Publication date||September 27, 1962|
By tradition and by Carson's own public assertions, the impetus for Silent Spring was ostensibly a letter written in January 1958 by Carson's friend, Olga Owens Huckins, to The Boston Herald, describing the death of numerous birds around her property resulting from the aerial spraying of DDT to kill mosquitoes, a copy of which Huckins sent to Carson. Carson has stated that the letter prompted her to turn her attention to environmental problems caused by chemicalpesticides.
In fact, Carson had become concerned about the effect of pesticides, DDT particularly, as early as the 1940s, when anti-pest campaigns had been part of the Pacific war effort. She had already begun collecting research on the matter and calling others' attention to it when a 1957 lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding aerial spraying over Long Island caught her attention and mobilized her to embark on the project that would eventually become Silent Spring.
It was the opinion of celebrated writer, naturalist, and environmental activist Peter Matthiessenwriting in Time Magazine in 1999 that even before Silent Spring was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1962 that there was strong opposition to it::
Carson was violently assailed by threats of lawsuits and derision, including suggestions that this meticulous scientist was a "hysterical woman" unqualified to write such a book. A huge counterattack was organized and led by Monsanto Company, Velsicol, American Cyanamid – indeed, the whole chemical industry – duly supported by the Agriculture Department as well as the more cautious in the media.