In The Green Years 1964–1976, Coodley and Sarasohn offer an energetic review of the formative years of modern environmental law. Most environmental historians date the “green years” to the 1970s, but Coodley and Sarasohn chose to include the congressional actions in the years just before what is now considered the environmental decade. The authors, however, begin with the first Earth Day in 1970, devoting virtually an entire chapter to it, before finding their way back to 1964.

Coodley and Sarasohn’s method is to describe the development of environmental laws primarily through the legislative maneuvers of environmental policymakers and politicians. Some, like Gaylord Nelson, Frank Church, Stewart Udall, and Edmund Muskie the authors present as heroic. Others, notably Richard Nixon, are recognized for their contributions if not for their overarching environmental goals. The authors focus largely on the most significant environmental laws that emerged from the administrations of Presidents Johnson,...

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