This title provides a fresh look at the history of environmentalism in the United States, challenging current thinking and presenting an innovative perspective. This book offers a fresh and innovative 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 account moves the origins of environmentalism much further back in time and attributes the growth of environmental awareness to working people. Autoworkers in Michigan and coal miners in Kentucky in the 1940s, and even antebellum mill girls and farmers, all took direct action to protest industrial waste in rivers, polluted air and the damage that strip mining was doing to the environment. They and countless common people drew on their own unique experiences to acquire a grasp of ecological principles, and act.
This account is nothing 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 Associate 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)
Introduction - Shaking up what, when and why; 1. Puritan to Yankee redux: farming, fishing and our very own dark, satanic mills; 2. Why game wardens carry guns and interpretive rangers dress like soldiers: class conflict in forests and parks; 3. Missionaries find the urban jungle: sanitation and worker health and safety; 4. Green relief and recovery: by which working people and nature get a New Deal; 5. A popular crusade: organized labor takes the lead against pollution; 6. From 'no uvas' to 'no pcbs': inventing environmental justice; Conclusion - Rethinking environmentalism, past and present.