Top positive review
Good Choice for Book Clubs
March 19, 2018
Rachel Carson, who exposed the dangers of DDT and founded the environmental movement, was a hero of mine growing up, but I didn't know much about her life. I was therefore thrilled to read
Andrea Barnet's fascinating portrait, one of four, in Visionary Women.
I don't have time to read individual biographies of all the women who changed our view of the world, so I felt I hit the jackpot with this wonderful book. It came at a time when I was in dire need of inspiration.
The women are wisely chosen. In addition to Rachel Carson, there are profiles of Jane Jacobs, who saved lower Manhattan from the developers' wrecking ball, Jane Goodall, who discovered that chimps use tools, and Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters, one of the early farm-to-table advocates. The author has a sharp eye for the telling detail and a novelist's knack for storytelling. She writes with grace and intimacy.
For me, what set the book apart was the way the author linked the women's approach to their fields. They were amateurs who threw out pre-conceived notions and stubbornly relied on their own instincts and observations. They looked for the organic relations and interdependencies and succeeded in making original contributions to the fields of environmentalism, anthropology, urban planning, and food sustainability.
The book would make an excellent choice for book clubs.