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Rome presents the first comprehensive study of how Earth Day came about, what transpired on April 22, 1970, and why the inaugural Earth Day became “a transformative event.” By combing through vast archives and interviewing organizers and participants, Rome recognized that the key to Earth Day’s phenomenal success and lasting influence was the fact that it was not born of a well-established movement. Sure, voices were being raised in support of wilderness and against pollution, and the counterculture was rejecting consumer culture and heading back to nature. But it took the vision of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin to bring it all together by proposing “a national environmental teach-in.” Rome tracks the evolution of Nelson’s “environmental ethic” and tireless efforts to mobilize people across the country to plan homegrown actions. Rome describes the frenzied and smart tactics of Earth Day organizers, the astonishing array of 13,000 events, and the pivotal roles women played and follows the world-altering ripple effects. Let’s hope Rome’s excellent and invaluable Earth Day history helps rev up the grassroots engine for positive change once again. --Donna Seaman
“Adam Rome’s genial new book . . . brings to life another era. We’re as distant from Earth Day as the Battle of Gettysburg was from James Monroe’s reëlection, and Rome evokes a United States that feels, politically, like a foreign country . . . In Rome’s view, the original Earth Day remains a model of effective political organizing.”
—Nicholas Lemann, The New Yorker
“A fascinating treatment of both environmentalism and the structure of activism at the time.”
“Rome’s retelling of the hopeful origins of Earth Day and its early successes contain an important lesson for today. The social movements and anti-war crusades that swept through the country in the 1960s and ’70s and the movement to promote respect for the natural world demonstrate the tremendous power of activism and grass-roots organizing.”
—The Post-Courier (Charleston, SC)
“This is not just history—it’s a highly useful guidebook for anyone trying now to summon the same passion and build the same movement that shook up the world in 1970!”
—Bill McKibben, author of Home and Away: Jail Cells, Beehives, and the Fight for a Working Planet
“Adam Rome has written the first serious history of the largest demonstration in American history—and it is likely to be the definitive one. His wise and captivating narrative explains the roots and remarkable success of Earth Day and should be required reading for anyone who struggles to prevent climate change today.”
—Michael Kazin, author of American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation
Adam Rome has not only documented the critical story of Earth Day but also the purpose, importance, and spirit of a landmark event. Read morePublished on September 3, 2013 by Tim Palmer
I vaguely remember the first Earth Day, but now I know how much I missed! This is a truly exciting story, and it's told beautifully.Published on August 16, 2013 by A Connecticut Yankee
This really is an inspiring story about political leadership and powerful citizen action. As Nicholas Lemann wrote in The New Yorker, this book offers a lot of insight into the... Read morePublished on August 16, 2013 by Arbitrator