Associate Professor of History Ed Martini recently published a new book entitled Agent Orange: History, Science, and the Politics of Uncertainty (University of Massachusetts). Taking on what one former U.S. ambassador called “the last ghost of the Vietnam War,” this book examines the far-reaching impact of Agent Orange, the most infamous of the dioxin-contaminated herbicides used by American forces in Southeast Asia. The goal of the book is not simply to reconstruct the history of the “chemical war” but to investigate the ongoing controversy over the short- and long-term effects of weaponized defoliants on the environment of Vietnam, on the civilian population, and on the troops who fought on both sides.
Martini, who is currently serving as Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, draws on military records, government reports, scientific research, visits to contaminated sites, and interviews to disentangle conflicting claims and evaluate often ambiguous evidence. He shows that the impact of Agent Orange has been global in its reach. Yet for all the answers it provides, this book also reveals how much uncertainty—scientific, medical, legal, and political—continues to surround the legacy of Agent Orange.
Research for the book, which took Martini to multiple archives as well as to Vietnam, Canada, and New Zealand, was supported by awards from the Faculty Research and Creative Activities Award Support Fund and by the Department of History Burnham-Macmillan Endowment. For more about the book, please visit the University of Massachusetts Press website: http://www.umass.edu/umpress/title/agent-orange