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Under the Sea-Wind (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 3, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


Rachel Carson was one of the reasons why I became so conscious of the environment and so involved with environmental issues. . . . Her picture hangs on my office wall among those of political leaders, presidents, and prime ministers. It has been there for yearsùand it belongs there. Carson has had as much or more an effect on me than any of them, and perhaps all of them together. (Al Gore)

About the Author

Rachel L. Carson (1907–64) wanted to be a writer for as long as she could remember. However, while at Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College), she changed her major from literature to biology, graduating in 1929 at a time when there were few women in science. She completed an M. A. in marine zoology at Johns Hopkins University, taught at the University of Maryland, and published articles on natural history in the Baltimore Sun. From 1937 to 1952 she was an aquatic biologist for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, resigning from her position of editor-in-chief to devote herself to writing.

Carson’ s unique combination of lyrical prose and accurate science earned her international literary acclaim with the publication of The Sea Around Us in 1951. She was awarded the National Book Award for Non-Fiction, the John Burroughs Medal, the Gold Medal of the New York Zoological Society and the Audubon Society Medal. Carson was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Her first book, Under the Sea-Wind, appeared in 1941. Silent Spring, which alerted the world to the dangers of the misuse of pesticides, was published in 1962. Carson’s articles on natural history appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the New Yorker, Reader’s Digest and Holiday. An ardent ecologist and preservationist, Carson warned against the dumping of atomic waste at sea and predicted global warming. Rachel Carson died of cancer at the age of 56.

Linda Lear has always been intrigued by how the lives of artists and writers have been influenced by the natural world. She discovered quite by accident that before Beatrix Potter began her legendary series of 'little books' for children she had been an avid student of natural history. A professor of environmental history and author of the prize-winning biography Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature, Lear is an enthusiastic horticulturalist and collector of botanical art. She and her husband live in Bethesda, Maryland. Linda Lear's latest title, Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature is published by Penguin.

Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New edition (April 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143104969
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143104964
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
What a treasure found! Luckily I purchased Under the Sea Wind, prior to sailing my small boat to an equally small atoll. This book gives the reader an appreciation and understanding of life around the sea. More importantly, it increased my situational awarenes to gleen some of the Ocean's less obvious life. Upon making landfall at Palmyra Atoll, I was more able to see the life occuring before me. This book would be of value to any cruising sailor, hiker, or motorhome wanderer. This book makes an excellent gift to the homebound and undermotivated friends. It is superbly written by one of the finest writers of this century and children love it's flowing pace of words. Perhaps the best advice is to read this fine work, next to that buy a copy for a friend.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Howard on February 20, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very unusual nature book. Most nature books are based on first-hand experience and observations (e.g. see Henry David Thoreau, Edward Abbey, Robert Finch's books). While Rachel Carson certainly studied and observed the animals she describes in this book, she did not dive under the sea, thus a lot of the narrative is based on imagination (educated imagination, no doubt). The personification of the animals -- to give them human names and describe their feelings -- is also very unique in nature books. Nonetheless, these do not detract from the scientific accuracies of Carson's descriptions. As an literary book, these in fact make the book very much more readable. Reading it is like watching a Discovery channel documentary.

I deduct one star not because of the book itself, but because of this Penguin edition. I believe there is another edition of the book with illustrations by Bob Hines, I think those illustrations are fantastic. This book contains the illustrations by Howard Frech, the same as the first edition. These illustrations are fine, but there are very few of them (I am not sure if the Penguin edition even includes all of the original Frech works). The edition with Bob Hines' illustrations are infinitely more fun to read, why did Penguin not use those? Actually, why not use both??
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By JAD on July 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
In this, her first book, pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson takes specific types of animals and gives them enough personality and character to tell a story about them, as they go about a normal part of a day in their natural seaside habitat. Each of the chapters takes a look at a part of the land-meets-ocean ecosystem to depict wildlife interaction in a way that reflects actual settings and animal behavior.

Written in a present tense, moment by moment style that is engaging, the prose seems effortless. Carson is undoubtedly an expert when it comes to the flora and fauna of the kinds of outer banks islands along the Atlantic Coast of the United States, and most of the readers who have vacationed anywhere from New Jersey to Florida will recognize many of the species she depicts. The narrative style allows Carson to inform as well as entertain her readers, with many fascinating facts about the birds, fish and other wildlife.

I read this book while on one of the North Carolina islands, and found it fitting that the shore birds I enjoyed watching in flight or along the beach were portrayed in such detail. Yet, for me, there was a bit too much of "and the next moment, animal A ate animal B, and then at once, animal A was eaten by animal C". After the first three chapters of this sort of thing, I became a bit tired of the relentless repetition of the survival of the fittest approach Carson takes throughout the book.

"Under the Sea Wind" received very good reviews in its first edition, but it sold poorly. After Carson's "The Sea Around Us" (1951) succeeded, "Under the Sea-Wind" was republished and gained a larger readership.

Rachel Louise Carson was born near Springdale, Pennsylvania, on May 27, 1907 and lived until April 14, 1964. She was a marine biologist and nature writer, whose books were instrumental in advancing global environmental awareness. Her best known book is "Silent Spring".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ananda darling on October 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had never heard of marine zoologist Rachel Carson. I bought her book 'On The Edge Of The Sea' in a 2nd hand bookshop in a bunch of other random Natural History because I liked the cover. After OTEOTS I read 'The Sea Around Us', and most recently 'Under the Sea Wind', the subject of this review.
As with both her other books, Ms Carson's intelligence and heart leave glittering wakes through this overview of mid-twentieth century research on the sea, particularly its animal life. This is such a juicy book. Each creature she gives us, from whale to worm, is treated with a personal glee that endears them to us. She makes small stories of each of their singular lives. I now care personally about annelid worms. Who knew?
Drawing back from the individual she then illuminates the ways in which each life is dependent on the whole, and the whole on each life. She writes like an angel about the world of the mundane; simply, in gorgeously structured, shiny prose and all the while informed by her own massive research. Her love for her subjects leads the way, and refreshes itself at every turn. Her sense of detail is immersive, and her sensibility of the marvel of forms is catching.
There is something other than her brilliance that struck me about the above three books. Because Rachel Carson was writing in the years just before the spread of environmentalism, they are touchingly non-political in tone; no warnings, no fretting. They were followed by her last book, the enormously influential 'Silent Spring', a warning text that documents the ways in which the sea was suffering from human activity. Her love for the sea and its shores, so beautifully written in her first three books, is transformed into political awareness and activism. It's a good and lovely thing to witness. This author died in 1964 so we only have four books to fall in love with. Shame.
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