384 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 16 halftones, 6 figs., 8 maps, appends., notes, index
Suburban Nature and the Rise of Environmentalism in Twentieth-Century America
Although suburb-building created major environmental problems, Christopher Sellers demonstrates that the environmental movement originated within suburbs--not just in response to unchecked urban sprawl. Drawn to the countryside as early as the late nineteenth century, new suburbanites turned to taming the wildness of their surroundings. They cultivated a fondness for the natural world around them, and in the decades that followed, they became sensitized to potential threats. Sellers shows how the philosophy, science, and emotions that catalyzed the environmental movement sprang directly from suburbanites' lives and their ideas about nature, as well as the unique ecology of the neighborhoods in which they dwelt.
Sellers focuses on the spreading edges of New York and Los Angeles over the middle of the twentieth century to create an intimate portrait of what it was like to live amid suburban nature. As suburbanites learned about their land, became aware of pollution, and saw the forests shrinking around them, the vulnerability of both their bodies and their homes became apparent. Worries crossed lines of class and race and necessitated new ways of thinking and acting, Sellers argues, concluding that suburb-dwellers, through the knowledge and politics they forged, deserve much of the credit for inventing modern environmentalism.
"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
"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
© 2012 The University of North Carolina Press
116 South Boundary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3808
How to Order | Make a Gift | Privacy