Over fifty years ago, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) scolded the agricultural industry for its profligate spread of “poison” and pesticides “indiscriminately from the skies.” Now, in Chemical Lands: Pesticides, Aerial Spraying, and Health in North America’s Grasslands since 1945 (University of Alabama Press, 2018), David D. Vail re-examines aerial spraying in the North American Grasslands and the political and environmental controversies it provoked. He reveals how aircraft sprayers and practices emerged within the context of local environments and scientific experiments by regional universities and chemical companies. His pragmatic assessment of application technologies provides a nuanced perspective of pesticide use and environmental change.
Ryan Driskell Tate is a Ph.D. candidate in American history at Rutgers University. He teaches courses on modern US history, environmental history, and histories of labor and capitalism. He is completing a book on energy development in the American West. @rydriskelltate