The Invention of Ecocide: Agent Orange, Vietnam, and the Scientists Who Changed the Way We Think About the Environment Paperback – May 1 2011
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<p>David Zierler's <i>The Invention of Ecocide</i> is a compelling book about Agent Orange, its path of destruction, and the unflagging effort of scientists to name a new crime—ecocide. It is an aspect of the war usually referred to only in passing, but Zierler places it center stage in his powerfully written, precisely argued study. <i>The Invention of Ecocide</i> gives readers an entirely new perspective on Vietnam, the possibilities of determined protest, and the dangers that continue to haunt the world. It is, quite simply, a brilliant work of scholarship.</p> (Marilyn Young author of <i>The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990</i>)
<p>Absolutely fascinating: rich in detail, massively researched, and skillfully narrated . . . Combining the history of science with that of international affairs, the author skillfully traces the ways in which states made use of scientific discoveries to create ever more destructive weapons—and describes how scientists followed their conscience in seeking to stop such practice.</p> (Akira Iriye Harvard University)
<p>David Zierler’s important, timely book is a welcome addition to the scholarship on Agent Orange, a glaringly understudied topic. Impressively researched and well written, it should be accessible to a broad readership.</p> (Edwin A. Martini author of <i>Invisible Enemies: The American War on Vietnam, 1975–2000</i>)
<p>Comprehensive, well-sourced and skillfully arranged, <i>The Invention of Ecocide</i> takes on a subject at which too many books of the war offer only a glance.</p> (Asia Times)
<p>The book is an intellectually innovative and substantively valuable interdisciplinary contribution; one that I believe advances understanding about the development and utilization of herbicides in Vietnam while telling the story of how a group of American scientists, on the right side of the evidence and, as it turns out, history, tried to prevent the tragic consequences which now envelop generations of Americans and Vietnamese in their daily lives.</p> (Larry Berman <i>H-Diplo Roundtable Reviews</i>)
<p><i>The Invention of Ecocide</i> provides a rich blend of military and scientific history packaged in a lively narrative and is a pick for science and military holdings alike.</p> (Midwest Book Review)
<p>Zierler uses Agent Orange as a case study of the relationship between ecological issues and international relations, within the context of the rise of a global environmental consciousness.</p> (Book News)
<p>David Zierler has done yeoman’s work with this book exploring Agent Orange and the use of herbicides in the Vietnam War. . . .I applaud [his] efforts and I am sure that he will prove a leader in the history of American environmental diplomacy.</p> (J. Brooks Flippen <i>H-Environment</i>)
About the Author
David Zierler is a historian for the U.S. Department of State. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, daughter, and son.
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Speaking at the Carter Center on May 18, Zierler traced the origins movement of ecocide where herbicides were used to impact the ecology spurred by Agent Orange.
The Vietnam conflict was part of a much larger American policy initiative to stamp out communism. The anti-communism intent in Vietnam roots stem back from the Eisenhower administration continued within the Kennedy years and escalated through the Johnson administration. Well documented, Zierler has a copy in the book of the original memorandum authorizing herbicidal warfare in Vietnam.
Agent Orange, as most military initiatives, was meant to save lives. In Vietnam, the US had superior weapons, military equipment, and trained solders. The Viet Cong had the jungle and the surprised ambush. Hence, Agent Orange was meant to eliminate this advantage by defoliating the jungle terrain.
What Zierler attempts to do in his book is to delve into the history of the science of ecocide and how a handful of scientist worked to prevent its usage in war.
The Invention of Ecocide: Agent Orange, Vietnam, and the Scientist Who Changed the Way We Think About the Environment is a well written condense look into a fascinating world where politics and science intersect. This seminal work also revisited a much misunderstood of American history, the Vietnam conflict.
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