Book Reviews

A look at books published by fellow RPCVs that hopefully you will want to read.

1
Review: PEACE CORPS EPIPHANIES by Anson K. Lihosit (Panama)
2
Review: HIDDEN PLACES by James Heaton (Malawi)
3
Review–SHOW ME THE GOLD by Carolyn Mulford (Ethiopia)
4
Review — WILD WORLD by Peter Rush (Cameroon)
5
Review — PATCHWORKS by B.A. East (Malawi)
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Review — IF YOU ARE RETIRING, YOU MIGHT JOIN THE PEACE CORPS! by Sally Jo Nelson Botzler (Mexico)
7
Review — EVOLVING BRAINS, EMERGING GODS by Fuller Torrey (Ethiopia)
8
Review: THE ART OF COMING HOME by Craig Storti (Morocco)
9
Review — BOLIVIA 30 by Frank Darmiento (Bolivia)
10
Review — WHITE MOON IN A POWDER BLUE SKY by Julie Dargis (Morocco)

Review: PEACE CORPS EPIPHANIES by Anson K. Lihosit (Panama)

  Peace Corps Epiphanies: Panama by Anson K. Lihosit (Panama 2015–17) Peace Corps Writers July 2017 132 pages $13.95 (paperback) Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77) • Anson Lihosit was a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in Panama from 2015 to 2017. He taught English in the small rural town of Torti. Lihosit is second generation Peace Corps. His RPCV (Returned PCV) father who served in Honduras in the ’70s strongly encouraged him to write about his experiences. This well-written, interesting and often humorous book is the result. If you are thinking about joining the Peace Corps, you should read this book. Also, if you served in the Peace Corps 30, 40 or 50 years ago and want to know what is different and what is the same for those in the Peace Corps today, this is the book for you. Even if you have no connection to the . . .

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Review: HIDDEN PLACES by James Heaton (Malawi)

  Hidden Places: A Journey from Kansas to Kilimanjaro (Peace Corps creative non-fiction) by James Heaton (Malawi [Nyasaland] 1962–64) Xlibris, 2016 May 2016 118 pages $19.95 (paperback), $29.99 (hardcover), $3.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Mary M. Flad (Thailand 1963–65) • James Heaton’s Hidden Places: a Journey from Kansas to Kilimanjaro is a beautifully written, and frequently hilarious, book. Heaton seems to have the gift of total recall of all of the details, and many of the misadventures, of his Peace Corps stint in Nyasaland in 1962 to 1964. Nyasaland was in transition to becoming the independent nation of Malawi. Heaton conjures up the mix of idealism, naiveté, escapism, and longing for adventure that characterized so many of us who entered service in “the Kennedy era.” His time in Africa was spent teaching science and English on the secondary-school level. In a little more than a hundred pages, he describes the memorable moments, . . .

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Review–SHOW ME THE GOLD by Carolyn Mulford (Ethiopia)

  Show Me The Gold (mystery) by Carolyn Mulford (Ethiopia 1962-64) Gale Cengage Learning 304 pages December 2014 $9.90 (paperback), $3.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Sarah Elizabeth Porter (Republic of Macedonia 2005-07) • Staking out a country graveyard to catch vandals ex-spy Phoenix Smith and Acting Sheriff Annalynn Keyser respond to a neighboring county’s urgent call. The old friends block an exit from an abandoned farmhouse where four bank robbers were spotted. The women engage in a fatal shootout but two gang members escape. Achilles Phoenix’s K-9 dropout can’t sniff out a trail but smells a trap set to kill pursuers. The FBI takes over the case but fails to find the fugitives or the gold coins they stole. Agents suspect Phoenix knows where the gold is. So do the elusive robbers. Phoenix must adapt her tradecraft to protect herself and others and to follow threads leading to the gang and . . .

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Review — WILD WORLD by Peter Rush (Cameroon)

  Wild World (novel) by Peter S. Rush (Cameroon 1972–73) Prior Manor August 2017 288 pages $16.95 (paperback) Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76, and Costa Rica 1976–77) • You can’t change an institution unless you are willing to become a part of it and work from the inside. That’s what Steve Logan decided to do. In the spring of 1970 he is a senior at Brown University, very much in love with his girlfriend Roxy, a pre-med student, and planning to go to law school in the fall. Then he hears about Kent State, four student demonstrators killed by the National Guard. Inspired by a campus appearance by a New York City police officer who is fighting corruption on the force, and unwilling to leave Roxy on her own as she has recently lost both her father and sister, Steve decides to join the local Providence police force and . . .

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Review — PATCHWORKS by B.A. East (Malawi)

  Patchworks (mystery) by B.A. East (Malawi 1996-98) Moonshine Cove Press September 2017 259 pages $13.99 paperback, $6.99 Kindle Reviewed by Peter Van Deekle (Iran, 1968-70) • B.A. East brings to his latest and timely novel a refined skill for realistic dialog and a  first-hand experience of the federal bureaucracy. This reviewer received his copy of Patchworks on the morning after the Las Vegas massacre in October 2017 with the prophetic statement on its back cover: “America’s next gun massacre is inevitable …” The 20013 shootings at the Navy Yard facility in Washington, D.C. provide a credible context for this novel’s heightened anxiety over safety and security. Within that anxiety, East gives readers an engaging narrative centered on two of the novel’s central characters, Gabriel Dunne and Manny Teague.  Dunne’s internship in the fictitious Bureau of Government Intelligence and Execution involves him in an investigation of gun violence in America.  Gabriel’s academic . . .

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Review — IF YOU ARE RETIRING, YOU MIGHT JOIN THE PEACE CORPS! by Sally Jo Nelson Botzler (Mexico)

  If You Are Retiring, You Might Join the Peace Corps! by Sally Jo Nelson Botzler (Mexico 2009–11) WestBowPress July 2017 122 pages $16.95 (paperback), $3.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Bob Arias (Colombia 1964—66) • WAKE UP RETIREES, life is just beginning . . . Sally and Rick Botzler did it and so can you! After a successful career teaching, raising a family, and involvement with their communities . . . they became Peace Corps Volunteers assigned to Mexico. Twenty-four months as Volunteers, and three months as Trainees, and their lives will never be the same. Peace Corps does something to you no matter where you serve in over 70 countries  — with Vietnam being the newest. Sally takes us thru the application process, and having kept a log (great idea) she tells us what training was like — the excellent and friendly host family they lived with, and Peace Corps Mexico (PC/M) staff and . . .

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Review — EVOLVING BRAINS, EMERGING GODS by Fuller Torrey (Ethiopia)

  Evolving Brains, Emerging Gods: Early Humans and the Origins of Religion E. Fuller Torrey (Staff/MD Ethiopia 1964–66) Columbia University Press September 2017 312 pages $35.00 (hardcover), $33.25 (Kindle) By Patricia Taylor Edmisten (Peru 1962-64) • “The gods were born following a pregnancy lasting approximately two million years. It took that long for hominin brains to evolve structurally and functionally from being primate-like brains to being brains that possessed the cognitive faculties of modern Homo sapiens.” Thus begins E. Fuller Torrey’s masterful book on the evolution of religion. He has reviewed, compiled, and applied the pertinent fields of paleontology, anthropology, archaeology, anatomy, brain science, psycholinguistics, and social science that contribute to his theme. Torrey had been “looking for God,” since he was a child. As an undergraduate, he majored in religious studies; as a graduate student, in anthropology. He went on to become a physician and psychiatrist who has published . . .

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Review: THE ART OF COMING HOME by Craig Storti (Morocco)

  The Art of Coming Home by Craig  Storti (Morocco 1970-72, PC/W 1973-79) Nicholas Brealey, publisher 2001 (revised edition) 229 pages $22.95 (paperback), $12.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Bob Arias (Colombia 1963–64) • Culture Shock in Reverse Culture Shock, a noun . . . “the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.” — Google   IF YOU HAVEN’T EXPERIENCED IT, returning home after spending months or years overseas in a different culture, with different standards and perhaps another language, can be a challenge. American Peace Corps Volunteers, Japanese Volunteers or United Nation Volunteers in Latin America bring back their experiences and new found memories that have changed their person. And it isn’t just volunteers who experience these changes, military families, students, missionaries, and business executives do as well. Coming home is a challenge with special benefits that remain with us. . . .

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Review — BOLIVIA 30 by Frank Darmiento (Bolivia)

  Bolivia 30: Life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the 1960s Frank T. Darmiento (Bolivia ), author and editor CreateSpace April 2015 172 pages $24.99 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971–73) • Frank Darmiento, the author of Bolivia 30 provides a unique perspective of life in the Peace Corps in Bolivia by sharing in great detail his own story of the training process in the U.S. as well as when serving in Bolivia with his young wife. His book also includes dozen stories of others who were in his training group, which added to the texture and broadened the diversity of perspectives. Twenty four photos, most of them in color, greatly enhance the stories of places and circumstances we could not imagine. Darmiento provides a detailed description of the life of a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in a very isolated part of South America. I commiserated . . .

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Review — WHITE MOON IN A POWDER BLUE SKY by Julie Dargis (Morocco)

  White Moon in a Powder Blue Sky: A Primer in Healing from both Sides of the Veil in Memoir, Sonnets and Prose by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco 1984–87) Indie House Press July 2016 78 pages $9.50 (paperback) Reviewed by Taylor Barahona (Dominican Republic (2015–17) • With a bold and unique approach, Julie R. Dargis sets out to bring her readers on a spiritual journey through her book White Moon in a Powder Blue Sky: A Primer in Healing from both Sides of the Veil in Memoir, Sonnets and Prose. Dargis successfully captures a feeling that will surely resonate for any reader who dedicates themselves to serving the greater good and finds it difficult to step back and take care of themselves. Dargis writes, in her Author’s Note: I had been ready and willing to undertake anything that would have been asked of me. But what I was being told, in . . .

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