Top positive review
Like all good investigative journalism: difficult and yet essential.
Reviewed in the United States on November 29, 2017
White Wash is a difficult book to read. By that I don't mean to imply that it's not well-written (it is), or that the subject is inaccessible (it isn't). The book is difficult because it is asking us to see clearly, and truly come to terms with the reality that virtually everything we consume is likely detrimental to our health. The message is a hard, jagged pill to swallow, but an essential reckoning if we are ever to evolve out of this quagmire.
Reading Carey Gillam's book is like being the frog in boiling water. As the chapters progress, the evidence mounts, and the tragic personal stories are told, we become increasingly aware of the water in which we are slowly becoming a victim. Without Gillam's meticulous, thorough investigative research, we simply are unable to grasp the enormity of the agrochemical dilemma. But if we stick with her narrative (and it is truly a life-or-death tale that she weaves), we become emboldened with the knowledge that finally enables us to advocate for a better world, and a better life for our children and their children after them. As Gillam puts it, we must advocate with courage.
The meat of White Wash are the middle chapters, which dive deeply into the recent avalanche of scientific studies on glyphosate, its known danger regarding the health of animals, humans, and the environment, and the many ways that Monsanto has meddled in those studies to safeguard their bottom line. Prior to the middle chapters we are introduced to people who farm, people who have names and families, people who have died from the herbicide. We are introduced to mothers who speak out against the all-consuming glut of corporate greed, and who risk their lives to do so. And finally, we arrive on the other side with tenuous yet attainable solutions to the problem of toxins in everything that we consume. It's a bumpy ride, but when the reader emerges on the other side, there is hope.
A disclaimer about my 4-star rating: I have an aversion to polarity. If 5 stars is the ultimate, then I'll reserve the "I love it" rating for books that are close to my heart, and those tend to be novels. "I like" White Wash in the same way that I like to know what exactly is going into my body, especially if there's convincing evidence that I may develop cancer from eating it. I like to be well-informed, and Gillam has the chops to deliver. I like books like White Wash because they challenge me to be more aware. By contrast, anyone who is giving her book a 1-star rating, and also claims to have actually read the book, is simply lying. Because if you truly "hate" something, you surely won't sit with it for nearly 300 pages. If, however, you are a pawn to a multinational corporation who happens to be the culprit in the book's central struggle, then and only then would you take the time to discredit a book using uninformed opinions.
Like I said, a jagged pill. You may have to read White Wash through the slits of your fingers over your eyes, but for the sake of our future, it needs to be read.