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Effects of Agent Orange on Vietnam and its People Examined in New Book by Ithaca College Professor

 ITHACA, NY — Nearly three decades after writing about the effects Agent Orange had on the soldiers who used it in Vietnam War, Fred Wilcox has returned to the topic of chemical exposure — this time chronicling its tragic consequences on the health of the Vietnamese people and their environment. An associate professor of writing at Ithaca College, Wilcox is the author of “Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam,” published by Seven Stories Press.

Weaving first-person accounts with original research, Wilcox’s latest book examines the legacy of Agent Orange/dioxin in Vietnam, where more than 3 million people — including 500,000 children — are sick or dying from birth defects, cancer and other illnesses that can be directly traced to the chemicals used by American forces to defoliate the jungle during the war.

In “Scorched Earth,” Wilcox calls for the U.S. government to finally admit its role in chemical warfare in Vietnam, demands that the manufacturers of Agent Orange compensate the victims, and warns that unless we stop poisoning our air, food and water supplies, the cancer epidemic in the United States and other countries will only worsen.

Wilcox has scheduled several upcoming public readings and book signings:

  • Saturday, Oct. 8, at 3 p.m. at Buffalo Street Books, DeWitt Mall, Ithaca.
  • Monday, Oct. 17, at 2 p.m. at Loose Cannons, 471 West End Ave., and at 4 p.m. at the Housing Works Thrift Store, 2569 Broadway, both in New York City. Wilcox will be joined by fellow author and activist Noam Chomsky.
  • Monday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. at ArtRage Gallery, 505 Hawley Ave., Syracuse.

Seven Stories Press has also released a new edition of Wilcox’s 1983 book “Waiting For an Army To Die: The Tragedy of Agent Orange,” which told the individual stories of soldiers who suffered from the side effects of Agent Orange and the terrible treatment they received as veterans. “Scorched Earth” fills in the recent history of the struggle by American veterans’ families to obtain benefits for their exposure-related illnesses and birth defects, and describes in heart-rending detail the efforts by Vietnamese Agent Orange victims to gain the same recognition and assistance.

In an interview with the Center for Media and Democracy, Wilcox said he hopes that both books will “open a conversation about war, about what we should never do in war, about our environment, about cancer, and about how we as a nation can commit these crimes and then claim we’re not responsible.”

A longtime peace activist, Wilcox has been researching, writing and teaching courses on the Vietnam War for over 30 years and is recognized as a trusted authority among veterans and academics alike on the war and its aftereffects.

His other books include “Uncommon Martyrs: How the Berrigans and Others Are Turning Swords Into Plowshares,” “Fighting the Lamb’s War: The Autobiography of Philip Berrigan” and “Chasing Shadows: Memoirs of a Sixties Survivor.” He researched and wrote one chapter of a national curriculum, “The Lessons of the Vietnam War,” for the Center for Social Studies Education.

For more information, contact Fred Wilcox at (607) 274-3571 or