- STAFF PICKS
- GIFTS + GIFT CARDS
- SELL BOOKS
- FIND A STORE
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Other titles in the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series:
Pests in the City: Flies, Bedbugs, Cockroaches, and Rats (Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books)by Dawn Day Biehler
Synopses & Reviews
From tenements to alleyways to latrines, twentieth-century American cities created spaces where pests flourished and people struggled for healthy living conditions. In Pests in the City, Dawn Day Biehler argues that the urban ecologies that supported pests were shaped not only by the physical features of cities but also by social inequalities, housing policies, and ideas about domestic space.
Community activists and social reformers strived to control pests in cities such as Washington, D.C., Chicago, Baltimore, New York, and Milwaukee, but such efforts fell short when authorities blamed families and neighborhood culture for infestations rather than attacking racial segregation or urban disinvestment. Pest-control campaigns tended to target public or private spaces, but pests and pesticides moved readily across the porous boundaries between homes and neighborhoods.
This story of flies, bedbugs, cockroaches, and rats reveals that such creatures thrived on lax code enforcement and the marginalization of the poor, immigrants, and people of color. As Biehler shows, urban pests have remained a persistent problem at the intersection of public health, politics, and environmental justice, even amid promises of modernity and sustainability in American cities.
Dawn Day Biehler is assistant professor of geography and environmental studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She lives with her family in Washington, D.C.
"We live with these species on a daily basis, yet no one has told their story before. This fascinating book shows us that while the homes and neighborhoods of twentieth-century America destroyed the habitats of some species, they also created new habitats for others. Biehler has given urban history a whole new set of actors." --Linda Nash, University of Washington
"Re-centering the narrative about the origins of Rachel Carson's famous book, Dawn Day Biehler successfully opens a new perspective, less about the pesticides--a history we assume we know--and more about the pests themselves. In so doing, Pests in the City illuminates critical points in the twentieth-century interaction between ecology and public health. Its original and compelling blend of themes and questions makes it likely to join environmental history's most innovative ranks." --Chris Sellers, Stony Brook University
"The environmental history of people and animals has for too long focused on charismatic megafauna--wolves, grizzlies, cougars--when in fact the day-to-day lives of a great many people are much more intimately involved with less fearsome but rather more troublesome creatures. In this fascinating and important book, Dawn Day Biehler brilliantly demonstrates how much we can learn about environmental politics and social justice by studying the pests who share our urban homes with us." --William Cronon
"In straightforward fashion, University of Maryland geography and environmental studies professor Biehler produces a lively account (not for the squeamish) of our oft-unseen, unwanted household companions, and what our interactions with them reveal about humans. With a foreword by William Cronon, the book educates the general public about some of the smaller organisms who share human habitations: house flies, bedbugs, German cockroaches, and rats. Both common and annoying, these creatures enjoy the repasts provided by humans, repaying them by spreading disease and filth. Biehler charts the growing efforts to control these pests, and shows how such efforts, in the long term, produce even more robust pests. The struggle to control and shape the domestic environment also illuminates class and race barriers; as the author demonstrates, the consequences of cohabitation with vermin often fall most heavily on the poorest, a fact that doesn't seem to trouble the upper classes. For readers who want even more detail, a detailed bibliography is provided. 27 illus." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
What Our Readers Are Saying