This book offers a fresh and invative account of the history of environmentalism in the United States, challenging the dominant narrative in the field. In the widely-held version of events, the US environmental movement was born with the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 1962 and was driven by the increased leisure and wealth of an educated middle class. Chad Montrie's telling moves the origins of environmentalism much further back in time and attributes the growth of environmental awareness to working people and their families. From the antebellum era to the end of the twentieth century, ordinary Americans have been at the forefront of organizing to save themselves and their communities from environmental harm. This interpretation is thing short of a substantial recasting of the past, giving a more accurate picture of what happened, when, and why at the beginnings of the environmental movement.
Chad Montrie is Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. His most recent book is Making a Living: Work and Environment in the United States (2008)