G.I. GUINEA PIGS: How the Pentagon Exposed Our Troops to Dangers More Deadly Than War by Michael & Tod Ensign Uhl

G.I. GUINEA PIGS: How the Pentagon Exposed Our Troops to Dangers More Deadly Than War

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Nuclear testing in Nevada and the South Pacific, and defoliation spraying in Vietnam, may have harmed untold numbers of American soldiers, exposing them to high doses of radiation and herbicide poisoning. Former intelligence officer Uhl and attorney Ensign examine both operations, presenting soldiers' case histories and pronouncing the Pentagon guilty of ignorance more than evil--unaware of health dangers and haphazard about safety precautions. ""You are invited to participate in, experience, and evaluate the blast of an atomic bomb,"" announced an Army loudspeaker in 1955; and an ill ex-GI recently recalled how ""the sizzling flash stung my body."" The authors charge insufficient government efforts to study Nevada test veterans (also those from Bikini and Eniwetok islands) despite abnormally high cancer rates and other problems, and negligible assistance programs for stricken veterans. The story was similar in Vietnam, where 1200 soldiers drenched forests (often near American bases) with Agent Orange and other herbicides. A government study of these veterans is under way, inspired by their reported health problems and the high incidence of spina bifida among their children. We learn about various veterans organizations pushing for more and better assistance, and we are told of legal and legislative efforts (attorney Ensign represents nearly 100 veterans). Uhl and Ensign leave no doubt about their bias, discussing U.S. arms buildups ""under the guise of national security"" and citing nuclear weapons as causing ""an attitude of moral agnosticism among scientists""; but their fact-filled account is mostly straightforward and evenhanded, if hardly news.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1980
Publisher: Playboy--dist. by Harper & Row