Diane Rehm this morning had a lovely, thoughtful hour with William Souder, whose new biography of Rachel Carson,On a Farther Shore, is just out today.
The hour went quickly, and covered lots of ground, articulately and insightfully, but not so quickly as to avoid the ongoing lies told about Rachel Carson being a mass-murderer, with Silent Spring her weapon.
I wrote a bit about this lunacy a couple of years ago.
In a current Slate piece, Souder addresses addresses the persistence of these charges -- and both the corporate interests and scientific ignorance that cause them to persist-- and does so with admirable clarity and documentation.
If environmental degradation becomes an issue this fall -- and I don't hold out a lot of hope for it to -- you can bet that sane, sensible, scientific, pragmatic (she never called for an overall ban on pesticides, only an increased awareness of the consequences of their use), Rachel Carson will once more be vilified as a mass-murderer.
It doesn't even have to become a campaign issue -- Rush Limbaugh hit her hard during the off-year.
A mass-murderer! This woman who wrote beautifully, who loved life, and living things, and above all wanted to remind us to think rationally about what we and our technologies are doing -- and can do -- to our planet.
Her reputation can take it, of course, and more than that her work can take it, and has, and will continue to.Rachel Carson wrote with clear eyes and clean hands, honestly and truthfully, and without any agenda other than opening our eyes.Her concern can be found in all of her books. Her letters, many collected in Always, Rachel, give a glimpse into the size of her concern as well as her personality.
Based on the hour's conversation this morning, I suspect that Souder's biography does the same. I am eager to read it.
Souder's new book is, in fact, one of the two biographies I'm most looking forward to this season -- the other is Don Scott's biography of George R. Stewart (another clear-eyed writer who loved the earth and its inhabitants, and remains too often misunderstood).A good season for biographies of planetary caretakers (and, in a way, caregivers) -- high time, too.
It is, after all, the writers who speak most clearly about what we do to the world who are most easily misunderstood -- and, dammit, attacked.