Toms River by Dan Fagin
A Story of Science and Salvation

87%

6 Critic Reviews

A crisp, hard-nosed probe into corporate arrogance and the power of public resistance makes this environmental caper essential reading.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • Winner of The New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award • “A new classic of science reporting.”—The New York Times

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.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR AND KIRKUS REVIEWS

“A thrilling journey full of twists and turns, 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 complex tale of powerful industry, local politics, water rights, epidemiology, public health and cancer in a gripping, page-turning environmental thriller.”—NPR

“Unstoppable reading.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
 
“Meticulously researched and compellingly recounted . . . It’s every bit as important—and as well-written—as A Civil Action and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”—The Star-Ledger
 
“Fascinating . . . a gripping environmental thriller.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“An honest, thoroughly researched, intelligently written book.”—Slate
 
“[A] hard-hitting account . . . a triumph.”—Nature
 
“Absorbing and thoughtful.”—USA Today


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Dan Fagin

See more books from this 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. For fifteen years, he was the environmental writer at Newsday, where he was twice a principal member of reporting teams that were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. His articles on cancer epidemiology were recognized with the Science Journalism Award of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Science in Society Award of the National Association of Science Writers.
 
Published March 19, 2013 by Bantam. 562 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Critic reviews for Toms River
All: 6 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on Dec 16 2012

Fagin weaves fascinating background material on epidemiology, statistical analysis and more into this hard-hitting chronicle. A gripping environmental thriller.

Read Full Review of Toms River: A Story of Scienc... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Feb 16 2013

A crisp, hard-nosed probe into corporate arrogance and the power of public resistance makes this environmental caper essential reading.

Read Full Review of Toms River: A Story of Scienc... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Abigail Zuger, M.d. on Mar 18 2013

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...

Read Full Review of Toms River: A Story of Scienc... | See more reviews from NY Times

USA Today

Good
Reviewed by Dan Vergano on Mar 30 2013

Fagin navigates these murky waters expertly, delving in the book into the roots of epidemiology, the study of disease distribution.

Read Full Review of Toms River: A Story of Scienc...

BigThink.com

Good
Reviewed by David Ropeik on Feb 06 2016

...rich in detail about the scientific detective work required to figure out whether all that pollution did anything to people’s health.

Read Full Review of Toms River: A Story of Scienc...

nj.com

Good
Reviewed by Josh McMahon on Apr 07 2013

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.

Read Full Review of Toms River: A Story of Scienc...

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Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to custom list '2013 NPR'

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