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One Square Inch of Silence: One Man's Search for Natural Silence in a Noisy World

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One Square Inch of Silence: One Man's Search for Natural Silence in a Noisy World Cover

ISBN13: 9781416559085
ISBN10: 1416559086
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the visionary tradition of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, One Square Inch of Silence alerts us to beauty that we take for granted and sounds an urgent environmental alarm. Natural silence is our nation's fastest-disappearing resource, warns Emmy-winning acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, who has made it his mission to record and preserve it in all its variety — before these soul-soothing terrestrial soundscapes vanish completely in the ever-rising din of man-made noise. Recalling the great works on nature written by John Muir, John McPhee, and Peter Matthiessen, this beautifully written narrative, co-authored with John Grossmann, is also a quintessentially American story — a road trip across the continent from west to east in a 1964 VW bus. But no one has crossed America like this. Armed with his recording equipment and a decibel-measuring sound-level meter, Hempton bends an inquisitive and loving ear to the varied natural voices of the American landscape — bugling elk, trilling thrushes, and drumming, endangered prairie chickens. He is an equally patient and perceptive listener when talking with people he meets on his journey about the importance of quiet in their lives. By the time he reaches his destination, Washington, D.C., where he meets with federal officials to press his case for natural silence preservation, Hempton has produced a historic and unforgettable sonic EKG of America.

Imbued with the boundless curiosity of original explorers like LewisandClark, the incisiveness of Jack Kerouac's observations on the road, and the stirring wisdom of Robert Pirsig repairing an aging vehicle and his life, One Square Inch of Silence provides a moving call to action. More than simply a book, One Square Inch of Silence is an actual place, located in one of America's last vestigial naturally quiet places in Olympic National Park in Washington State. Hempton shares some of his favorite recordings of the park's endangered pristine soundscapes on the enclosed CD. This CD also includes wide-ranging recordings and stunning photographs from his pioneering journey, an inspiring quest for quiet that now adds natural silence to the nation's ecological agenda.

Review:

"Though many Americans may think their country abounds in places free from human interference, acoustic ecologist and professional sound recordist Hempton readily proves otherwise. Armed with sound monitoring equipment and a well-defined goal-to find a spot that has 'no audible human noise intrusions of any kind for a minimum of 15 minutes'-Hempton drives his VW bus from Seattle to Washington, D.C., visiting national parks and other anticipated sources of silence. Along the way, he contemplates the intricacies of his vehicle, the decline in songbird populations and the effects of noise stress in hospitals, while filling readers in on the basics of audio science. From rural Montana, and what may be the nation's quietest town, to his final hike through the C&O canal, beneath Ronald Reagan National air traffic, Hempton's travelogue is filled with absorbing descriptions of the nation's natural treasures, inviting readers to consider the effects of rare silence against chronic noise, and the difference a single law, to 'prohibit all aircraft from flying over our most pristine national parks,' could make: 'If a loud noise... can affect many square miles, then a natural place, if maintained in a 100 percent noise-free condition, will likewise affect many square miles around it.'." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"After a while we begin to sense that it is silence that is our greatest teacher. The interval between musical notes. The pauses in a play or speech or conversation. The awe-inspiring cloisters of our civilizations. But it is in nature, as this wonderful gem of a book reveals, that we find the real blessing of silence." Ken Burns

About the Author

Gordon Hempton is an acoustic ecologist and Emmy Award-winning sound recordist.  For nearly 25 years he has provided professional audio services to musicians, galleries, museums, and media producers, including Microsoft, Smithsonian, National Geographic, Discovery, National Public Radio, and numerous other businesses and organizations. He has received recognition from the Charles A. Lindbergh Fund, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. He studied botany and plant pathology at the University of Wisconsin. His sound portraits, which record quickly vanishing natural soundscapes, have been featured in People Magazine, a national PBS television documentary, "Vanishing Dawn Chorus," which earned him an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Individual Achievement.” Hempton has now circled the globe three times in pursuit of environmental sound portraits. His new audio series--Environmental Sound Portraits--is the first new work to appear in more than a decade. He lives in Port Angeles, WA. John Grossmann has been a freelance writer of magazine articles and books for nearly all of his working career.  He has written on as wide a range of topics as implied by the following list of magazines that have published his work:  Air & Space/Smithsonian, Audubon, Cigar Aficionado, Esquire, Geo, Gourmet, Health, Inc.,  National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times Magazine, Outside, Parade, Saveur, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, and USA Weekend.  He ghostwrote the 2006 book Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads (Ten Speed Press); and before that wrote the 100-year history of one of the nation’s oldest and most successful summer camps, YMCA Camp Belknap, which he attended as a camper and leader and where his two sons have also been campers and leaders.

Table of Contents

Prologue Sounds of Silence

1 Silent Thunder
2 The Quiet Path
3 Hitting the Road
4 Urban Wilderness
5 Endangered Quiet Beauty
6 The Earth Exposed
7 The Rocky Road to Quietude
8 Natures Symphony in Decline

Interlude

9 Toxic Noise
10 Seeking Muirs Music
11 Hundred-Mile Walk to Washington
12 Washington, D.C.

Epilogue Echoes

Appendix A Correspondence with James Fallows
Appendix B Indianapolis Noise Profiles
Appendix C Kempthorne Letter
Appendix D FAA Map of the Continental United States
Appendix E Sonic EKG of America
Appendix F Your Personal Quest for Quiet: A MiniUsers Manual

Acknowledgments
Index

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Erica Horne, April 6, 2009 (view all comments by Erica Horne)
Like the aesthetic beauty of natural sound, the theme of the book is subtle - in a way the idea is almost laughable. Given all the problems in the world, who could possibly complain about a single plane flying 18,000 feet over a national park a few times a day? Yet Gordon Hempton, who has won an Emmy Award for his recordings of nature, wants to make us aware of how man-made sounds exist in just about every inch of the continental USA. To draw attention to the loss of the American soundscape, he wants to set aside a single square inch of silence in Olympic National Park, to create a place where no man-made noise intrudes above 20 dba (the lower limit of human hearing).

As Gordon drives across the USA in this sort of travel memoir steeped in the traditions of John Muir, Walden and Aldo Leopold, he records levels with a sound-meter and thus experiences the American coast-to-coast road trip through the hearing sense. The book may even be pioneering a new form of travel/nature literature, experiencing the world through the aesthetic of sound, specifically the lack of man-made noise (including music), and the presence of natural sounds. Few if any authors have ever approached a book in this way before. It may seem overly precious and perhaps a bit odd to some people, like Gordon's rebellious teenage daughter; yet Gordon really does seem to be on to something. Some have said noise pollution is where air pollution was 40 or 50 years ago, a few people concerned but becoming increasingly important.

"The loss of quiet is literally the loss of awareness. Quiet is being lost without people even becoming aware of what they are loosing." This book brings a new awareness.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781416559085
Subtitle:
One Man's Search for Natural Silence in a Noisy World
Author:
Gordon Hempton and John Grossmann
Author:
Hempton, Gordon
Author:
Grossmann, John
Publisher:
Free Press
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection - General
Subject:
Environmental Science
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Ecologists
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection
Subject:
Ecologists - United States
Subject:
Hempton, Gordon
Subject:
United States Description and travel.
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20090331
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » General

One Square Inch of Silence: One Man's Search for Natural Silence in a Noisy World Used Hardcover
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$7.95 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Free Press - English 9781416559085 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Though many Americans may think their country abounds in places free from human interference, acoustic ecologist and professional sound recordist Hempton readily proves otherwise. Armed with sound monitoring equipment and a well-defined goal-to find a spot that has 'no audible human noise intrusions of any kind for a minimum of 15 minutes'-Hempton drives his VW bus from Seattle to Washington, D.C., visiting national parks and other anticipated sources of silence. Along the way, he contemplates the intricacies of his vehicle, the decline in songbird populations and the effects of noise stress in hospitals, while filling readers in on the basics of audio science. From rural Montana, and what may be the nation's quietest town, to his final hike through the C&O canal, beneath Ronald Reagan National air traffic, Hempton's travelogue is filled with absorbing descriptions of the nation's natural treasures, inviting readers to consider the effects of rare silence against chronic noise, and the difference a single law, to 'prohibit all aircraft from flying over our most pristine national parks,' could make: 'If a loud noise... can affect many square miles, then a natural place, if maintained in a 100 percent noise-free condition, will likewise affect many square miles around it.'." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "After a while we begin to sense that it is silence that is our greatest teacher. The interval between musical notes. The pauses in a play or speech or conversation. The awe-inspiring cloisters of our civilizations. But it is in nature, as this wonderful gem of a book reveals, that we find the real blessing of silence."
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