Mainstream organizations such as the Sierra Club and National Wildlife Federation often define the environmental movement. In Forcing the Spring, writer Robert Gottlieb shows that alternative groups, such as Mothers of East Los Angeles, are equally important. These grass-roots groups rely on community members more than experts, concentrate on changing the social order rather than negotiating within it, and work on protecting and empowering people in cities more than conserving or protecting forests. Gottlieb argues that environmentalism has had two distinct branches since the early 1900s "- one concerned primarily with the natural environment, which has traditionally been the most professional and widely accepted branch, and the other concerned with the human environment. In Gottlieb's view, environmentalism involves both protecting wilderness areas and improving urban living and working conditions. Forcing the Spring describes the fascinating lives of environmentalists Bob Marshall, Alice Hamilton and Rachel Carson and chronicles the development of popular environmental organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Toxics Campaign.


Island Press, Washington, D.C., 1993. $27.50, cloth. 412 pages.