Title: Tom's River
Author: Dan Fagin
Published Date: March 19, 2013
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Copy provided by: author
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Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis: The riveting true story of a small town ravaged by industrial pollution, Toms River melds hard-hitting investigative reporting, a fascinating scientific detective story, and an unforgettable cast of characters into a sweeping narrative in the tradition of A Civil Action, The Emperor of All Maladies, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
One of New Jersey’s seemingly innumerable quiet seaside towns, Toms River became the unlikely setting for a decades-long drama that culminated in 2001 with one of the largest legal settlements in the annals of toxic dumping. A town that would rather have been known for its Little League World Series champions ended up making history for an entirely different reason: a notorious cluster of childhood cancers scientifically linked to local air and water pollution. For years, large chemical companies had been using Toms River as their private dumping ground, burying tens of thousands of leaky drums in open pits and discharging billions of gallons of acid-laced wastewater into the town’s namesake river.
In an astonishing feat of investigative reporting, prize-winning journalist Dan Fagin recounts the sixty-year saga of rampant pollution and inadequate oversight that made Toms River a cautionary example for fast-growing industrial towns from South Jersey to South China. He tells the stories of the pioneering scientists and physicians who first identified pollutants as a cause of cancer, and brings to life the everyday heroes in Toms River who struggled for justice: a young boy whose cherubic smile belied the fast-growing tumors that had decimated his body from birth; a nurse who fought to bring the alarming incidence of childhood cancers to the attention of authorities who didn’t want to listen; and a mother whose love for her stricken child transformed her into a tenacious advocate for change.
A gripping human drama rooted in a centuries-old scientific quest, Toms River is a tale of dumpers at midnight and deceptions in broad daylight, of corporate avarice and government neglect, and of a few brave individuals who refused to keep silent until the truth was exposed.
My review: I'd like to thank NetGalley for providing an ARC copy of this book to me for the purpose of review.
Awhile ago at work, I had to take some extra instructional stuff, and it was all about these laws and regulations by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency. One of the first things I learned about very briefly were different places that caused this thing called the Superfund. One of the places was Tom's River.
Being the geek I am, I jumped at the chance to get more details. This book gives all the details. And then some. And then some more. The story behind Tom's River is written in such excruciating detail that you are absolutely horrified at the amount of damage companies have done to our environment, whether its in Tom's River, or in other places all over the world.
The history that leads up to the actual events in Tom's River go back all the way to pre-Industrial times. The author leads you by the hand down the road as it gets darker and darker and darker. It was so well-written.
The only bad part about the book is that it has so many details. Did you know that the first cancer discovered was in a dinosaur bone about 150 million years old? Yes, that's one of the hundreds of slightly related facts that are in this book. I loved learning everything I read, but it could have been cut by about 200 pages with no one the wiser.