On a Farther Shore: William Souder on the Legacy of Rachel Carson

by Will Wlizlo

“Rachel Carson is the founder of the environmental movement.” Those definitive words began William Souder’s recent reading in Minneapolis. “At least I think that’s a good shorthand way to think about what she did.”

Souder’s latest book, On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson, examines Carson’s groundbreaking work on the use of DDT and other pesticides; her early, prescient skepticism of nuclear technology; and the legacy of her famous book, Silent Spring. Its publication coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of Silent Spring’s publication, an event that continues to have profound political, environmental, and personal repercussions.

While On a Farther Shore was published by Crown Publishing Group, Milkweed co-sponsored Souder’s launch party because both he and Carson are near to our hearts. Souder’s artful prose turns a litany of government jobs, scientific studies, and polluted landscapes into an exceptionally human story of Carson’s humbling setbacks and lasting achievements.

We recorded the event, and you should listen to it in the audio player below (or download it here).

If you’d like to read along, download this PDF. It’s been edited for readability and includes most of the slides shown during Souder’s presentation.

You can also read an excerpt of On a Farther Shore here. If Souder’s book sounds inspiring, you’ll also like Janisse Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and Bill McKibben’s Hope, Human and Wild.

Souder is one of today’s preeminent biographers and nonfiction writers on the environment. He has previously chronicled the life of naturalist John James Audubon in Under a Wild Sky and detailed the rise of frog mutations in A Plague of Frogs.

Lastly, don’t miss our other audio recordings of essayist Amy Leach and Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury.

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