Rachel Carson’s 1962 nonfiction bestseller Silent Spring, an extended discussion of the harmful effects of synthetic chemical insecticides on human and nonhuman animals, has traditionally been credited with launching the environmentalist movement. In Green Depression, Matthew Lambert complicates that conventional wisdom. Drawing on the work of historians who identify the roots of the environmentalist movement in Americans’ response to the Dust Bowl, Lambert argues that writers of the 1930s and 1940s anticipated twentieth- and twenty-first-century environmentalism and contributed to its early development. He elaborates on the cultural work that these interwar American writers performed:

First, they recognized, as never before, the apocalyptic effect that humans could have on the environment, particularly in response to the Dust Bowl and the period’s other human-made environmental disasters. Next, they depicted the ecological and cultural value of nonhuman animal “predators” and “pests.” . . . And third, many authors laid the groundwork...

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