The Edge of the Sea by Rachel Carson (1955)

The edge of the sea by Rachel Carson

The Edge of the Sea by Rachel Carson (1955), was the last book of what became known as her “Sea Trilogy,” preceded by Under the Sea Wind (1942) and The Sea Around Us (1951). Her meticulously researched nonfiction writing was known for its graceful and poetic style.

Carson (1907 – 1964) was a noted American marine biologist, conservationist, and writer whose research and graceful writing about the natural world shaped today’s environmental movement. 

Her best-known book, Silent Spring (1962), raised awareness about the use of pesticides and contributed to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

A description of The Edge of the Sea from the publisher of the 1998 edition, Mariner Books: 

With all the hallmarks of Rachel Carson’s luminous prose combined with a scientifically accurate exploration of the Atlantic seashore comes a hauntingly beautiful account of what one can find at the edge of the sea.

‘The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place.’ Focusing on the plants and invertebrates surviving in the Atlantic zones between the lowest and the highest tides, between Newfoundland and the Florida Keys, The Edge of the Sea is a book to be read for pleasure as well as a practical identification guide. Its appendix and index make it a great reference tool for those interested in plant and animal life around tide pools.

A new generation of readers is already discovering why Rachel Carson’s books have become cornerstones of the environmental and conservation movements.”

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Under the Sea Wind by Rachel Carson

See also: Under the Sea Wind
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A 1955 review of The Edge of the Sea by Rachel Carson

From the original review of The Edge of the Sea in The Virginian-Pilot, October 30, 1955: It’s hard to imagine anyone on the face of this earth not being enthralled by Rachel Carson’s The Edge of the Sea.

We say the face of the earth advisedly, for while her earlier book, The Sea Around Us, opened up a whole fascinating new world, it was a world only a few could penetrate by actual experience.

The edge of the sea we do know, or may think we know, until we have read her book; for it is marginal land. But, as she herself points out, “For no two days is the shore line precisely the same … always the edge of the sea remains an elusive and indefinable boundary.”

Specifically, she writes of our own Atlantic coastline, which she divides into The Rocky Shore at the north, The Rim of Sand from Cape Cod southward, and The Coral Coast, with its jagged reefs, mangroves, and brilliant sea gardens, off Florida.

She calls into account not only the differing physical realities of the coast, but the biological role played by the sea: “The ocean currents are not merely a movement of wanter; they are a stream of life, carrying always the eggs and young of countless sea creatures.”

Carson writes in detail of the teeming, complex lives of these millions of creatures, many of whom you will recognize — crabs, whelks, moon snails, coquinas, conches, seahorses, and even jellyfish. 

Many you will never have dreamed of  live as close to home as Virginia Beach, Nags Head, Myrtle Beach, and Sea Island.

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The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson2

See also: The Sea Around Us
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Throughout there is a sense of the ancient oceanic past, the flow of time — to what unknown future? With these creatures who surge against the shifting shore, “seeking a foothold, establishing new colonies,” the pattern changes constantly, along with the inexorable drive for life.

Sand, seaweed, and the creatures of the shore will never seem the same to you again. 

Drawings are abundant in this book and add immeasurably to its charm. In black and white by Bob Hines of the Fish and Wildlife Service, they more than overcome their lack of the colors Miss Carson so vividly conveys with words. They are sensitive, powerful drawings.

The Edge of the Sea is a handbook of knowledge, beautifully written — and a new insight into the enormous, mysterious life around us.

With all the hallmarks of Rachel Carson’s luminous prose combined with a scientifically accurate exploration of the Atlantic seashore comes a hauntingly beautiful account of what one can find at the edge of the sea.

“The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place.” Focusing on the plants and invertebrates surviving in the Atlantic zones between the lowest and the highest tides, between Newfoundland and the Florida Keys, The Edge of the Sea is a book to be read for pleasure as well as a practical identification guide.

Its appendix and index make it a great reference tool for those interested in plant and animal life around tide pools. A new generation of readers is already discovering why Rachel Carson’s books have become cornerstones of the environmental and conservation movements.

. . . . . . . .

The Edge of the Sea

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