Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation


Product Details

$30.00  $27.90
Island Press
Publish Date
6.7 X 9.1 X 1.3 inches | 1.86 pounds

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About the Author

Dan Fagin is an associate professor of journalism and the director of the Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. His work has been recently published in Nature, The New York Times, Scientific American, and Slate and he is also the co-author of Toxic Deception. Visit for more information.


"A thrilling journey through the twists and turns of cancer epidemiology, Toms River is essential reading for our times. Dan Fagin handles topics of great complexity with the dexterity of a scholar, the honesty of a journalist, and the dramatic skill of a novelist."--Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer"
"Toms River is an epic tale for our chemical age. Dan Fagin has combined deep reporting with masterful storytelling to recount an extraordinary battle over cancer and pollution in a New Jersey town. Along the way--as we meet chemists, businessmen, doctors, criminals, and outraged citizens--we see how Toms River is actually a microcosm of a world that has come to depend on chemicals without quite comprehending what they might do to our health."--Carl Zimmer, author of "A Planet of Viruses" and "Parasite Rex"
"At once intimate and objective, Toms River is the heartbreaking account of one town's struggle with a legacy of toxic pollution. Dan Fagin has written a powerful and important book."--Elizabeth Kolbert, author of "Field Notes from a Catastrophe"
"Toms River is absolutely riveting. I couldn't put it down. Dan Fagin has crafted a book about the consequences of industrial pollution that reads like a murder mystery. Read this book and the next time someone complains about too many environmental regulations you'll have clear answers for why government oversight of industrial waste production and disposal is so important."--Richard Besser, MD, chief health and medical editor, ABC News, former acting director, CDC
"Deftly combines investigative reporting and historical research to probe a New Jersey seashore town's cluster of childhood cancers linked to water and air pollution."--Winner's Citation, 2014 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction
"It's high time a book did for epidemiology what Jon Krakauer's best-selling Into Thin Air did for mountain climbing: transform a long sequence of painfully plodding steps and missteps into a narrative of such irresistible momentum that the reader not only understands what propels enthusiasts forward, but begins to strain forward as well, racing through the pages to get to the heady views at the end. And such is the power of Dan Fagin's Toms River, surely a new classic of science reporting. . . a sober story of probability and compromise, laid out with the care and precision that characterizes both good science and great journalism."--New York Times
"Dan Fagin's narrative of the arrival and explosive growth of a chemical plant in New Jersey in the 1950s weaves a complex tale of powerful industry, local politics, water rights, epidemiology, public health and cancer in a gripping, page-turning environmental thriller."--National Public Radio
"Immaculate research . . . unstoppable reading . . . Fagin's book may not endear him to Toms River's real estate agents, but its exhaustive reporting and honest look at the cause, obstacles, and unraveling of a cancerous trail should berequired environmental reading."--Philadelphia Inquirer
"If you have but a single new book to read, let this be the one. Its per-sonalities, depth, and driving, de-tective-story-like narrative are as grip-ping as anything in recent memory."--Environmental Forum
"Absorbing and thoughtful."--The USA Today
"This hard-hitting account of cancer epidemiology in the New Jersey town of Toms River is a triumph."--Nature
"In an account equal parts sociology, epidemiology, and detective novel, veteran environmental journalist Dan Fagin chronicles the ordeal of this quiet coastal town, which for decades was a dumping ground for chemical manufacturers. Fagin's compelling book raises broader questions about what communities are willing to sacrifice in the name of economic development."--Mother Jones
"This book stood out for its superb combination of compelling narrative and for its explanations of science and history....This thought-provoking work speaks to how the tragic tale of Toms River can happen--and is happening--other places."--Society of Environmental Journalists Rachel Carson Book Award judging panel
"Dan Fagin spent seven years investigating and writing the tale that is Toms River, and its Pulitzer Prize and more than 500 pages are a suitably epic testimony to those who fought for decades to bring justice to their town."--Resurgence & Ecologist
"[Fagin] does a superb job of investigative research in documenting this story, one that is well worth preserving...highly recommended."--Electronic Green Journal
"Powerful, in-depth reporting that informs the public, shapes policy, and changes the world."--Winner's Citation, 2014 New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award
"Masterful portrayal of the scientific process at work in a town facing environmental crisis."--Winner's Citation, 2014 National Academies Communication Award
"A crisp, hard-nosed probe into corporate arrogance and the power of public resistance makes this environmental caper essential reading."--Publishers Weekly
"Waterborne destruction has visited Toms River before, albeit via less conspicuous channels, which Dan Fagin traces with marvelous precision in his new book, Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation."--New Yorker
"Deeply and thoroughly researched, it's a gripping, beautifully told, and thought-provoking account of a human tragedy. It also presents a fine history of a number of science and health-related topics that bear directly on the story that unfolds in the Toms River. Fagin is a gifted storyteller." --Chemical & Engineering News
"It's a sure bet to keep you engrossed the whole way through. It's got to be the best nonfiction book I've read since "A Civil Action" (1995)."--Free Lance-Star
"...richly informative..."--The Week
"Fagin's meticulously researched and compellingly recounted story of Toms River families struggling to find out what was causing the cancers that claimed their children belongs on the shelf with other environmental/medical mysteries. It's every bit as important--and as well-written-- as A Civil Action and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks."--Newark Star-Ledger