From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Though many Americans may think their country abounds in places free from human interference, acoustic ecologist and professional sound recordist Hempton readily proves otherwise. Armed with sound monitoring equipment and a well-defined goal-to find a spot that has "no audible human noise intrusions of any kind for a minimum of 15 minutes"-Hempton drives his VW bus from Seattle to Washington, D.C., visiting national parks and other anticipated sources of silence. Along the way, he contemplates the intricacies of his vehicle, the decline in songbird populations and the effects of noise stress in hospitals, while filling readers in on the basics of audio science. From rural Montana, and what may be the nation's quietest town, to his final hike through the C&O canal, beneath Ronald Reagan National air traffic, Hempton's travelogue is filled with absorbing descriptions of the nation's natural treasures, inviting readers to consider the effects of rare silence against chronic noise, and the difference a single law, to "prohibit all aircraft from flying over our most pristine national parks," could make: "If a loud noise... can affect many square miles, then a natural place, if maintained in a 100 percent noise-free condition, will likewise affect many square miles around it.".
*Starred Review* Today silence has become an endangered species.” Yes, as though we don’t have enough to worry about, Hempton, an Emmy Award–winning sound recordist and acoustic ecologist, calls our attention to noise pollution, another unintended consequence of humankind’s globe-altering technologies. Why should we preserve silence? Because the words peace and quiet go together for profound reasons. And because machine noise is driving other species, from songbirds to marine life, into extinction by creating deadly stress and interfering with communication. After traveling the world and finding that nearly no place is free of human-generated noise, Hempton decided to take a stand in one of the last quiet spots, the Hoh Rain Forest deep in Olympic National Park, declaring “one square inch” of silence in the hope that from this nucleus quiet would spread. To spread the word about his project, Hempton set out, sound-level meter in hand, to “take the sonic pulse of America.” With the assistance of writer Grossmann, Hempton interweaves his intriguing and instructive on-the-road adventures with fascinating and rarely addressed facts about sound, health, and the environment. Many books help us see the world differently; this one induces us to hear the world clearly, and the message is loud and compelling. --Donna Seaman