New book examines history and impact of Agent Orange

contact: Deanne Puca
| WMU News
Photo of Dr. Edwin .


KALAMAZOO—Dr. Edwin Martini, an associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences at Western Michigan University, recently published a new book that examines the far-reaching impact of Agent Orange, the most infamous of the dioxin-contaminated herbicides used by American forces in Southeast Asia.

"Agent Orange: History, Science, and the Politics of Uncertainty," published by the University of Massachusetts Press, not only reconstructs the history of the "chemical war" but investigates 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 also is an associate professor of history at WMU, 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 and reveals how much uncertainty—scientific, medical, legal and political—continues to surround the chemical's legacy.

Research for the book, which took Martini to multiple archives as well as to Vietnam, Canada and New Zealand, was supported by awards from WMU's Faculty Research and Creative Activities Award Support Fund and by the Department of History Burnham-Macmillan Endowment.

For more information about the book, visit