Published: 1962
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Why It Mattered: Raised awareness about pesticides, resulting in the ban of DDT

Well-written books can change the world. Rachel Carson’s scathing exposé of the harmful effects of pesticides, Silent Spring, is proof. At the time Carson was writing, dousing crops with DDT was common practice, despite that fact that it left fields littered with dead animals. If consuming these chemicals was lethal for birds, what was it doing to us? This was the question Carson raised, stockpiling compelling research that pointed at the terrifying answer. Her inquiries led to the public protesting DDT, which resulted in a ban on the chemical, and more importantly, a new emphasis on environmental issues that pervades to this day. For better (less toxins in our food) and worse (militant foodies), we have Carson to thank.