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The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation Hardcover – April 16, 2013
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“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.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“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
Top Customer Reviews
I found the chapter about the "prehistory" of Earth Day to be especially enlightening --as it explained the political and social context for the event's success. (It was a day whose time had come!) Senator Gaylord Nelson's hands-off approach, Rome argues, gave event organizers the opportunity to take ownership, and they did.
Rome showcases some of the organizers and events, providing many case studies, to demonstrate how places as diverse as Miami, New York, and Birmingham framed their events based on the values and issues in their own communities. There were lectures, parades, theatre, demonstrations, music, and panel discussions. Rome argues that the mass-educational event pressed people to truly grapple with mounting issues and with how to address them --and the experience for many, especially the organizers, was utterly transformative and empowering.
As I read, I was surprised to realize how bad environmental conditions were in some places, before the passage of the Clean Water and Clean Air acts --laws that we now take for granted. However, I was also somewhat appalled to realize that people were struggling 40 plus years ago with the same issues we continue to face today.
Rome's thoughtful attention to Earth Day does a great service in capturing the vibrancy, inspiration, profundity, and significance of this historic event.
As Rome notes, a misperception of Earth Day was that it was just a bunch of people protesting. Instead, he shows what a remarkable feat of grassroots organizing it was, as well as an effective educational "teach-in" event with long-lasting impact on the lives of those who took part.
"The Genius of Earth Day" shows that "ordinary" people really can make a difference. This should be required reading for anyone who cares about how to mobilize the public around our looming environmental crisis, climate change.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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
Whether you're interested in environmental history, social movements or just curious about how recycling has become all the rage in America, this book is a must read. Read morePublished on August 20, 2013 by ESR
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