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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Scorched Earth

Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam

by Fred Wilcox

Book cover for Scorched Earth
Book cover for Scorched EarthBook cover for Scorched Earth

Introduction by Noam Chomsky

Scorched Earth is the first book to chronicle the effects of chemical warfare on the Vietnamese people and their environment, where, even today, more than 3 million people—including 500,000 children—are sick and dying from birth defects, cancer, and other illnesses that can be directly traced to Agent Orange/dioxin exposure.

Weaving first-person accounts with original research, Vietnam War scholar Fred A. Wilcox examines long-term consequences for future generations, laying bare the ongoing monumental tragedy in Vietnam, and calls for the United States government to finally admit its role in chemical warfare in Vietnam. Wilcox also warns readers that unless we stop poisoning our air, food, and water supplies, the cancer epidemic in the United States and other countries will only worsen, and he urgently demands the chemical manufacturers of Agent Orange to compensate the victims of their greed and to stop using the Earth's rivers, lakes, and oceans as toxic waste dumps.

Book cover for Scorched Earth
Book cover for Scorched EarthBook cover for Scorched Earth

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“To our everlasting shame, current controversy over the Vietnam war focuses on the question 'Could we have won?' The real question should be 'What have we done?' Focusing on one central element, chemical warfare, Wilcox's harrowing study spells out the record with shattering clarity, relying on personal testimony, visual imagery, and cold fact. No decent person can fail to be appalled, or to be inspired to do we can to help the victims: the suffering people and the ravaged land.”

Scorched Earth sears the conscience through a gifted writer's devotion to justice.”

“For as long as I've known Fred Wilcox his name has almost been synonymous with the effects of Agent Orange. Over those years, his grief has become a passion for justice to the countless victims of this devastating herbicide, or 'instrument of chemical warfare.' Scorched Earth is a masterpiece emerging from his suffering with others all these years … May Fred's work bear fruit in a more enlightened American populace that says a resounding "NO!" to further experimental munitions creating further victims of war.”

“I consider Scorched Earth to be the Silent Spring of chemical warfare in Vietnam, a powerful clarion call [that brings together] scientific evidence, passionate argument, Vietnamese interviews and documentation, review of the class action suits ... and new and little known evidence gathered by Vietnamese scholars ... to form one coherent argument."”

“A fascinating and compelling book on the effects on the Vietnamese people of the Agent Orange defoliation campaign during the Vietnam War, a personal, impassioned account on the part of the victims, a fascinating and at times shocking tale of an important and unresolved episode in American history.”

Fred Wilcox

Fred A. Wilcox is a veteran’s advocate, environmentalist, and scholar of the Vietnam War. His book, Waiting for an Army to Die: The Tragedy of Agent Orange, helped break the story of the effects of chemical warfare on US veterans who had served in Vietnam. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his scholarship, including the Chapel of the Four Chaplains Humanitarian Award, which was presented to him on two occasions by the Vietnam Veterans of America. Wilcox lives in Ithaca, New York.