- Paperback ISBN: 9781552662960
- Paperback Price: $15.95 CAD
- Publication Date: Mar 2009
- Rights: World
- Pages: 122
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A Canadian History of Agent Orange and the War at Home
The village of Enniskillen, a sleepy cluster of a few dozen houses in New Brunswick’s Queens County, has never been invaded by a foreign power. But during the 1950s to 1970s, the village was ground zero for a different kind of offensive, this one launched by the American and Canadian military against its own people with the deadly dioxin Agent Orange. Between 1956 and 1984 the Canadian military and its private subcontractors sprayed more than 1 million litres of rainbow herbicides around New Brunswick. The American military was invited to test Agent Purple and other toxins on Canadian soil after the chemicals had been banned by the U.S. Congress.
This is the story of a war coming home; a story of the military and economic currents that allowed Agent Orange to blow through trees and into rivers in New Brunswick. More than anything, it’s a story of soldiers, civilians and local residents who blew back against the government and companies who poisoned them.
“Chris Arsenault’s tenacious reporting uncovers an important, and untold, chapter in Canada’s history. This book shows how Agent Orange and its toxic friends continue to poison people and ecosystems around the world—and frequently, in our own back yard. In telling this story, Arsenault has shown the diligence of a historian, the righteousness of a crusader, and best of all, the legwork of a private eye. It’s a humane and engaging combination.” — Graham F. Scott, Editor This Magazine
“Chris Arsenault is a crack young Canadian investigative journalist who in his very brief
career has already broken several important stories. This book is an impeccably researched study of a little known tragedy about the use of Agent Orange of Vietnam infamy at the Canadian Forces Base at Gagetown, New Brunswick. This is investigative journalism at its best.” — Cy Gonick, publisher Canadian Dimension, Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Manitoba
“In Blowback Arsenault lifts the curtain on a shocking and shameful period in Canada’s history. Exploring the intersection of militarism, imperialism, and the subversion of democracy in favour of corporate interests, Blowback is also the story of ordinary people challenging elite interests, told in their own voices. A powerful example of the promise of investigative journalism, Blowback is a people’s story of resistance to a war machine both at home and abroad.” — Alex Khasnabish, Assistant Professor, Mount Saint Vincent University
A really good short film on the subject of agent orange:
- Chapter One: Bringing the War Home
- Chapter Two: Agent Orange in Canada
- Chapter Three: U.S. Spraying in Canada
- Chapter Four: How It All Comes Out
- Chapter Five: The Legal Front
- Timeline of Events
About the Author
Chris Arsenault holds the 2008/09 Phil Lind Fellowship at the University of British Columbia’s Dept of History. A former contributor to CBC Radio, the Halifax Chronicle Herald, THIS Magazine and numerous other publications, Arsenault is currently Canadian correspondent for Inter Press Service, a United Nations affiliate based in New York. Arsenault has reported from Cuba, Colombia, Vietnam, northern Alberta and Chiapas, Mexico and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Toronto, Queen’s University, York University, Laurentian, St. Fx. and the Universidad Anáhuac in Mexico City.
Chris won the Trent Central Student Association (TCSA) award for community engagement in 2004 for spearheading a campaign to bring fair trade coffee to Trent University campus. In 2006, he was voted “best activist” in Halifax by readers of the Coast Magazine. A former service sector organizer with the Canadian Confederation of Unions (CCU), Arsenault’s journalistic and academic work focuses on corporate globalization, the extractive industries, foreign policy and social movements. Arsenault plays drums for the folk fusion band, The Clementines (http://www.myspace.com/clementinesband) and he presently lives in Vancouver.
“Arsenault’s extensive research involved using the Access to Information Act to ferret out damning documents and produce a scathing indictment of a Canadian government in denial of its responsibility for exposing its citizens to a deadly substance.” - Jeffrey Simpson, Halifax Chronicle Herald, April 19, 2009
“Heavily researched, it is a biography of either gross mismanagement or pure self interest and disregard for public safety…. Objectivity is important to any journalist but Arsenault sits firmly with the alleged victims of the defoliation program… the evidence presented in this book is damning to the military industrial complex.”–David Turner, Fredericton Daily Gleaner, July 11, 2009
“Freelance journalist Chris Arsenault has uncovered a disturbing Canadian connection that paints a portrait of human and environmental devastation much closer to home than the jungles of Southeast Asia. This deceptively thin volume is a thoroughly documented case history…Arsenault weaves together the many strands of a shocking tale of criminal negligence that heretofore has been featured only in isolated news reports…. Arsenault’s text serves as a cautionary tale about the profound costs of current and future Canadian military entanglements.” - Matthew Behrens, Quill & Quire, May 2009
“Arsenault has compiled a history of Agent Orange in Canada that includes both insight and humour… Blowback is compelling reading for every Canadian who wants to know more about the wizard behind the curtain.” - Megan Stewart, The Dominion, May 7, 2009
“Arsenault writes these victims’ stories with a vivid pen and wry asides…a dense dossier of facts and true heart break.” - The Nova Scotia Policy Review
“a marvelously revealing work of independent, investigative journalism… a virtual catalogue of the mistakes and missteps by governments in thrall to the false promise of inorganic chemistry, and blind, deaf and dumb to the effects of these operations on local populations… a convincing example of objective reporting and writing on a profoundly important subject” - Alec Bruce, Atlantic Books Today
“This is the best expose on Agent Orange that I have ever read. It is imperative that veterans and civilians read it.”–George Claxton, former chair of Vietnam Veterans of America (VAVA) Dioxin Committee published in the VAVA Veteran
“Blowback” has only been a part of the modern lexicon since Chalmers Johnson used it to describe the unintended consequences of covert action in a 2001 book of the same name. Arsenault endows it with a double meaning–the drift of sprayed chemicals onto cropland and towns and the political repercussions of Canada covering up these spraying activities…the story jumps around, albeit skillfully, between anecdotes, historical evidence, and, most interestingly, root causes.” - Mathew Berger, Inter Press Service, Australia