WAITING FOR AN ARMY TO DIE The Tragedy of Agent Orange by Fred A. Wilcox (Seven Locks Press: $10.95)

Fred Wilcox's scathing indictment of the reckless use of toxic herbicides during the Vietnam War and their devastating effects on the men who were exposed to them combines elements of Randy Shilts' "And the Band Played On" with Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring." Wilcox discloses that the defoliants sprayed on more than 4.5 million acres of Southeast Asia were contaminated with dioxin, the most deadly man-made molecule in existence. (A fatal dose is measured in parts per billion. )

Young soldiers who were contaminated with dioxin now allegedly suffer a hellish array of medical problems, including liver and neurological damage, elevated rates of cancers usually found only in older men, depression, and fathering children with severe, multiple birth defects. Wilcox also charges that the Veterans' Administration has deliberately failed to provide these men the treatment they so desperately need.

An important book, simultaneously infuriating and depressing; but even if it provokes public outcry, treatment--and justice--will come too late for many Vietnam veterans.

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