Hamilton’s Book Chosen as Outstanding Academic Title

The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) will include Inevitably Toxic: Historical Perspectives on Contamination, Exposure, and Expertise—co-authored by Harvey Mudd College Professor Vivien Hamilton—on its list of Outstanding Academic Titles for 2019.

Each January, the ACRL publishes its prestigious list, which reflects the best in scholarly titles reviewed in Choice, a publishing unit of ACRL, and recognized by the academic library community. The list contains approximately 10% of some 6,000 works reviewed in Choice each year.

Hamilton, associate professor of the history of science, and her colleagues Brinda Sarathy (Pitzer) and Janet Farrell Brodie (Claremont Graduate University) published Inevitably Toxic last year. The book is a collection of essays that consider exposure of humans to radiation, industrial waste and pesticides via toxic environments that are often invisible or appear innocuous.

“We want to draw attention to the prevalence of these often dangerous spaces,” says Hamilton. “The toxics we consider in the book—radiation, and chemical pollution in the air and water—are often invisible to us, and health effects can take years to develop. Our first goal is awareness. But the real power of historical work is not simply to make us more aware of these spaces but also to see that their creation is not inevitable.”

Hamilton says, “When things feel inevitable, we feel powerless to change them. But historical investigations show us that these spaces have been created and often mismanaged because of a series of decisions and behaviors. Understanding those patterns can help us to imagine new ways of acting in the future.”

Inevitably Toxic: Historical Perspectives on Contamination, Exposure, and Expertise is now available in paperback.