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Crabgrass Crucible: Suburban Nature and the Rise of Environmentalism in Twentieth-Century America Hardcover – June 18, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (June 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807835439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807835432
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #383,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The first Earth Day...was the culmination of more than a decade of rising alarm and activism about environmental damage or "pollution" that had already occurred...[a]s described in [a] fine new book...by historian...Christopher Sellers..."  Michael Kazin in The New Republic

"Crabgrass Crucible covers a broad and important theme with insight, imagination, and literary distinction even while demonstrating enormous research, deep intelligence, and impressive conceptualization. It should be required reading for anyone with a passing interest in suburban,
urban, or environmental history."
-Kenneth Jackson, Columbia University

Crabgrass Crucible covers a broad and important theme with insight, imagination, and literary distinction even while demonstrating enormous research, deep intelligence, and impressive conceptualization. It should be required reading for anyone with a passing interest in suburban, urban, or environmental history.--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

Delivering significant insights and fearless observations in spirited prose, it is not only a highly engaging book but also an important one. . . . Exquisite historical detail.--Environment and History

The detailed analysis and narrative adopted by Sellers is impressive and convincing. Indeed, while this suburban-environmental relationship remains to be fully understood, Sellers goes a long way in the right direction.--Journal of Historical Geography

The importance of Sellers' work cannot be overstated.--Treehugger.com

Crabgrass Crucible is an important contribution to the culture of urbanization and to our understanding of how galvanized suburbanites forged a new environmental movement. It should be required reading.--Pacific Historical Review

Sellers's convincing and nuanced argument places the birthplace of the U.S. environmental movement in the suburbs of its largest cities. . . The accomplishments of Crabgrass Crucible are significant.--Technology and Culture

Seller's ecological narrative facilitates understanding how ordinary Americans, suffering from and, in some cases, overcoming consumer alienation in residential spaces, tamed nature and tamed themselves.--Environmental History

Sellers reveals a suburban world filled with nature and with people coming to terms with it in meaningful ways. . . . It is difficult to come away from this book without new insights into environmentalism and mid-twentieth-century suburbs. . . . Not all readers will agree with Sellers' interpretation, but no reader can afford to ignore it.--Reviews in American History

A deft scholarly pen flows with accessible prose, and the author's humanity shines through on every page.--Social History of Medicine

Sets history on a new path.--Journal of American History

Highlighting the social complexity of the suburban environmental movement, showing its deeply local character, and illuminating changing ideas of nature, Crabgrass Crucible develops a strong argument for environmentalism sprouting in the suburbs.--American Historical Review

Puts to rest the narrative of suburbia as a purely nature-destroying phenomenon. The challenge now is how we might exploit these low-density settlements for ecological and social benefit.--The Dirt

The real treat of Sellers's book is his masterful use of oral histories with suburbanites to provide snapshot biographies ranging over class, race, and environment.--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

Review

Most modern Americans started in the suburbs, so it's no surprise that much of our sense of the world around began there as well. They are edge communities, and therefore an ecological niche open to a great many ideas, as this fascinating account shows!--Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future|Historians have long known that America's suburbs were the birthplace of environmentalism. But this important book reconsiders why postwar suburbs mattered as both unique physical places as well as cultural spaces. The scholarship is cutting edge, the research prodigious, the analysis sharp, and the findings significant. Sellers says things that environmentalists and policymakers need to know.--Matthew Klingle, author of Emerald City: An Environmental History of Seattle|Christopher Sellers focuses on the place of nature in American suburbs and its influence on nature-seeking by suburbanites, confronting the definition of modern environmentalism. Crabgrass Crucible engages a central theme in urban history in a sophisticated and extraordinarily aggressive way.--Martin Melosi, author of Precious Commodity: Providing Water for America's Cities

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Peter Sigerson on June 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is terrific for a number of reasons. It contributes new insights about our past and present, is well written, and works very well in the classroom. I can attest to the last point in particular because I adopted it for a senior seminar this past semester. Crabgrass Crucible far exceeded my expectations in this regard. The students found it accessible and engaging. It sparked some very rich discussions (for example, why is everyone in the suburbs so obsessed with lawns and landscaping?) and definitely made them think a little more deeply about important policy issues such as pollution and water management. The book worked so well, in fact, that I'm using it again for a 100-level survey course in the coming semester. I also enjoyed reading the book as a work of scholarship because it situates the rise of the environmental movement in a suburban context. This fascinating book rewards on a number of levels and is well worth reading. My only complaint is that it's not available in paperback yet!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By BookWorm78 on April 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
As a native Long Islander, it was a pleasure to come across Seller's new book at the Huntington's famous Book Revue a couple months back. It is not that often that one can find a well-researched historical account of the place in which they were born and raised. Don't be fooled, however, Seller's book is not simply an account of Long Island's suburban and environmental past. That's only half the story. The other half, and one which I found most exciting, is on the suburbs of Los Angeles. When thinking of my suburban experience here on the island, seldom have I thought about it in relation to similarly-situated suburban landscapes elsewhere. In Seller's new book, the two case studies complement each other nicely, proving to be an interesting read that I would recommend to anyone interested in place studies, the environment and/or the urban/suburban past. Enjoy!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Keith Hartmann on April 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book was a very interesting read. Any person would be able to appreciate this book because of its great detail on the development of one of the most populated suburbs in the United States. Long Island went from being mostly farmland to becoming a bustling suburb. Sellers states in the book how early developers were successful with drawing middle class citizens to Long Island.He also discusses how the influx of people changed the landscape of Long Island and how people have fought to conserve Long Island's natural environment.This book shows how quickly an environment can change in a relatively short amount of time and the challenges of preserving nature.
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More About the Author

Christopher Sellers is an historian of environment, culture and health with a long-standing interest in the modern United States. He grew up in North Carolina, eventually received advanced degrees in both American Studies and medicine, and is now a professor at Stony Brook University in Long Island, New York. He has written at length on the history of occupational and environmental health, of cities and suburbs, of industrial development and its risks, and of the environmental movement. For more on his books and interests, see:

http://www.crabgrasscrucible.org
http://www.suburbannature.org
http://history.sunysb.edu/blog/chrissellers/

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