The American Experience: Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring

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Release date: February 08, 1993
Directed by: Neil Goodwin
Produced by: PBS Television
Running time: 60 minutes

Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring", published in 1962, is widely credited with helping launch the environmental movement. It has been featured in many lists of the best nonfiction books of the twentieth century. In the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Nonfiction it was at #5, among others. Most recently, "Silent Spring" was named one of the 25 greatest science books of all time by the editors of Discover Magazine. The film combines excerpts from letters, books, television programs, and archival footage with interviews.

Production Notes

The film examines a conflict that the book brought into focus: the conflict between many who believed that technology could cure all ills and that nature could be controlled and others such as Rachel Carson who refused to believe that serious damage to nature was inevitable and represented a reasonable price to pay for “progress.” The series “The American Experience”, hosted by historian David McCullough, broadcast the hour-long historical documentary “Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring,” with readings by Meryl Streep and excerpts from CBS Reports. Many of Carson’s friends and colleagues were still living and were interviewed for the program.