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“This book is ever so much more than a captivating tale of citizen participation in clearing smoke from Pittsburgh. It is history at its finest. James Longhurst probes the why, what, and how of effective grass roots involvement in technological policymaking. He persuasively associates citizenship opportunities with contextual changes in demography, civil rights, legislation, and communication. More than a good read, Citizen Environmentalists is exceptional and purposeful scholarship.

—Charles O. Jones, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Citizen Environmentalists uses an examination of language and a multidisciplinary approach to take the history of the environmental movement in a new direction. James Longhurst’s focus on Pittsburgh as his major case study offers a rich portrayal of grassroots reform at its best. This book situates itself very well amongst the scholarship on environmental reform produced in the last several decades.”

—Martin V. Melosi, University of Houston

Praise for Citizen Environmentalists

"Longhurst cogently argues that the modern environmental movement's significance lies less in its interest in the environment than in the 'fundamental change in the relationship between citizens and their government.' . . . Recommended."

--J.Borchert, CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, February 2011.


"By stressing local rather than national events, and by integrating a political-science perspective with urban social history, Longhurst provides new insights into the sources and development of environmental activism. . . Linking the group's activities to the recent historiography of participatory democracyt, Longhurst argues that GASP exemplified a mid-twentieth-century 'rights revolution' that redefined citizenship in terms of active engagement in governance."

-- Sherie Mershon, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, January 2011.

Press Coverage of Citizen Environmentalists


  "Citizen Environmentalists, a new book by James Longhurst, is devoted largely to the story of the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP). Founded here in 1969, GASP was in the vanguard of a now-familiar phenomenon: everyday people banding together for cleaner air, land and water."
     "Longhurst's book both uncovers a largely forgotten history and explodes some assumptions about the environmental movement."

-- Bill O'Driscoll, Pittsburgh City Paper, November 2010


According to "Citizen Environmentalists," a book by James Longhurst that examines early trends in environmentalism and citizen activism, the women of GASP were young, energized, mostly college-educated, middle-class and white, who organized in a reasonable, non-threatening way through traditional female networks in garden clubs, schools and civic organizations. . . .
And they took advantage, Mr. Longhurst said, of the rising wave of citizen involvement in the civil rights and women's rights movements that built throughout the nation in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as new provisions in the nation's environmental laws that required public hearings and public comment periods.
"Pittsburgh wasn't unique when it comes to women's involvement in environmental and health concerns," said Mr. Longhurst, an assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. "We see them arguing for the health of their family and home and against coal smoke and for clean drinking water in a lot of places, including Chicago, New York and St. Louis."
"But what was unique in Pittsburgh was the severity of the air pollution problem and the incredible scientific expertise at the universities. Add the highly motivated, highly skilled and underemployed activist women who used the language of caring for family and home, and you have activist groups credited with huge successes."

-- Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 2011

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