KERRY: AGENT ORANGE AND AN AMERICAN FAMILY by Clifford with Michael Ryan & Maureen Ryan Linedecker


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Ten years ago Kerry Ryan was born with 22 birth defects--including a hole in her heart, no rectum, double reproductive structures, a misshapen arm, a defective bladder that would keep her in diapers for life. For many years her religious and supportive extended family accepted her lot as simply God's will--even when an embolism during surgery left her blind for 18 months and unable to walk permanently. Meanwhile her father suffered recurring problems with chloracne, a serious skin rash that oozed pus and blood; with migraines, hearing loss, and reduced eyesight. It wasn't until Kerry was seven and had already undergone a lifetime of surgery, pain, and closeness-to-death that the Ryans became convinced they were victims of Agent Orange, the dioxin-filled herbicide used to defoliate crucial areas of Vietnam during Michael Ryan's tour of duty there (and for years after). This is partly the story of living from crisis-to-crisis with a seriously disabled child, partly the story of the veterans' movement to win recompense from government and chemical-manufacturing sources. The personal story is told with a certain melodramatic flair; the public-protest story is dutifully (if drily) recounted--leaving the reader with some sense of the issues and the evidence, but little sense of balance.

Pub Date: May 3rd, 1982
Publisher: St. Martin's