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Opinions Throughout History: The Environment


This volume follows shifting public opinion on the environment. Historian at-large Micah Issitt traces the path of how Americans think about the environment, with each chapter providing insightful commentary on a selected primary source. Drawing from the popular press, key court and legislative battles, scientific research, social activism and opinion polls, Opinions Throughout History: The Environment offers readers mixed sources of information woven together to highlight the overall momentum of developing public opinion around “green” thinking and environmental policy. As commercial and conservation forces compete to shape popular opinion on this, issue readers will see the constant tension between development of natural resources for human benefit and “leaving no trace” thinking in the natural world.

In the front of the volume is a detailed Introduction that discusses the effect of human activity on Earth's environment and the polarized opinions about this complex issue. Next is a comprehensive Timeline of significant events related to environmental history and regulation, from antiquity to 2018.

The 28 chapters that follow give a detailed account of significant environmental events, beginning with the ecological alteration of the Delaware River Valley before the first European settlers and ending with President Trump's rollback of environmental protection policies. Topics covered include:

  • the advent of the railroad;
  • the Industrial Revolution;
  • pollution laws and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency;
  • the protection of endangered species
  • The Dust Bowl and the Pacific Garbage Patch as preventable disasters;
  • severe weather;
  • and many more!

Documents are reprinted – entirely or excerpted – and supported by detailed narrative written by expert historian Micah Issitt. Often, the document is broken up into sections to better demonstrate points discussed in the accompanying commentary, detailing significance and how it reflects the ongoing tension between opposing opinions in America. These important documents are the cornerstone of each chapter, which features:

  • An informative Introduction that sets up the focus of the chapter, highlighting the primary source that is analyzed;
  • A list of Topics Covered in the chapter;
  • The Primary Source Document, clearly indicated and fully cited;
  • Thoughtful Analysis, averaging 1,500 words – that digs into specific sections of the document;
  • Sidebars that offer valuable background information;
  • Photos, cartoons, posters to support the topic and provide fun and informative visuals;
  • A Conclusion that summarizes the chapter and reiterates main points;
  • Discussion Questions to help guide further conversation and debate about these current topics;
  • Works Used to make additional research easy.

New to this edition are a number of detailed descriptions, called "Environmental Moments" that support points mentioned in the text.

The work concludes with the following backmatter: Notes; Primary & Secondary Sources; Glossary; Historical Snapshots; Bibliography; and Index.


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View a Full List of Titles from the Opinions throughout History Series

Pub. Date: January 2019
Softcover: 816 pages
ISBN: 978-1-68217-953-6
Price: $195
Includes Free Online Access on the Salem Press Platform
e-ISBN: 978-1-68217-954-3
eBook User Price: $195