From Publishers Weekly
Apartment-dwelling urbanites may be surprised to learn how significant lawn care is to the American economy, generating more than $10 billion in annual sales of pesticides, fertilizers and other products. Steinberg, an environmental historian, is aiming for the grassy equivalent of Fast Food Nation
, with one key difference—while people know junk food isn't good for them, they may not be aware that most lawn care products are not only unnecessary but may actually harm soil and turf. He particularly damns the lawnmower industry, revealing how manufacturers "worked tirelessly to mislead the American public" for years in order to avoid the expense of installing safety features that could prevent severed fingers. Steinberg's subjects range from the postwar boom in suburban lawns to contemporary debates over noisy leaf blowers, and he mixes cultural history with personal lawn-related experiences in Long Island and Ohio, where some people maintain putting greens in their backyards. (Not surprisingly, Steinberg points out, golf courses are "the most intensively managed lawns in America.") There's plenty of muckraking outrage, but it's delivered in a friendly, engaging voice that might just win over skeptics. 40 illus. (Mar.)
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Infinitely more interesting than watching grass grow, Steinberg's study of grass becomes a rueful and revealing commentary on America's nearly myopic devotion to acquiring and maintaining the perfect lawn. Forget your purple waves of grain; America's predominant landscape feature is a lush carpet of pristine green grass mowed so short it couldn't wave if it wanted to. Tracing the sociological roots of this horticultural phenomenon from the burgeoning post-World War II cookie-cutter suburbs with their postage-stamp lawns to today's manicured, multiacre estates, Steinberg illustrates how and why American home owners have elevated their fascination with this humble plant into an obsessive Grail-like quest. From mowers to blowers, weeds to water, crabgrass to bluegrass, Steinberg dishes the dirt on the products and practices that get results, not all of them in the home owner's--or the planet's--best interest. Balancing his sardonic, tongue-in-cheek wit with an investigative reporter's penchant for revelatory journalism, Steinberg offers an expose that is as entertaining as it is instructive. Carol HaggasCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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