Book Reviews

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

1
Review — Sendero by John Rouse
2
Review of David Koren’s Far Away in the Sky
3
Review — Larry Lihosit’s Peace Corps Experience: Write and Publish Your Memoir
4
Review of A Small Key Opens Big Doors
5
Review — WAR OF HEARTS AND MINDS by James Jouppie (Thailand)
6
Review — MAYA 2012 by Joshua Berman (Nicaragua)
7
Review — A VILLAGE SON REMEMBERS by Mark Lewis (The Gambia 1970-72)
8
Review — FROM THE SAN JOAQUIN by Barry Kitterman (Belize)
9
Review — A PEACE CORPS MEMOIR by Terry Sack (Bolivia 1963–65)
10
Review — Whispering Campaign by Larry Lihosit (Honduas 1975-77)

Review — Sendero by John Rouse

Sendero: The Path Back by John G. Rouse III (Peru 1966-68; staff: Ecuador APCD 1971-72; DR Republic APCD 1972-74) CreateSpace $7.80 (paperback) ; $2.99 (Kindle) 310 pages 2012 Reviewed by Tess De Los Ríos (Panama 2003–06) • IN JOHN ROUSE’S FIRST NOVEL,  Sendero, he delivers a fast-paced, satisfying plot with details and emotions to which many RPCVs can relate. From the opening chapter describing a ceremonial human sacrifice in the 1400s to uncovering possible government involvement in the supposed accidental death of the central character’s best local friend when he was a Peace Corps Volunteer, down to the last chapter when all is redeemed, Rouse’s writing kept me feeling that something big was just about to happen. Sendero has all the aspects of a quality novel-suspense, romance, sincerity, betrayal, even a car chase between good guys and bad guys. The main character, Petrini, finds himself in a rough patch of . . .

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Review of David Koren’s Far Away in the Sky

Far Away in the Sky A Memoir of the Biafran Airlift by David L. Koren (1964-66) Createspace, $17.99 Kindle: $8.60 332 pages 2012 Reviewed by Dick Hughes (Nigeria 1962-64) In 1962, when I was in Peace Corps training at UCLA for a teaching job in Nigeria, the official U.S. message was that we were headed for Africa’s “showcase of democracy,” as my Nigeria IV friend Joanne McNeese Mills put it with appropriate irony. How much better the promise of that newly formed nation than that of Ghana, then under the sway of U.S.- educated Kwame Nkrumah, who was flirting with our cold war Soviet and Chinese rivals; and who, god help us, had this crazy idea of forming a unity of African states. Wonder where that idea came from? We all know how that turned out.  Nkrumah was overthrown in a military coup in 1966 that, some have said, was . . .

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Review — Larry Lihosit’s Peace Corps Experience: Write and Publish Your Memoir

Peace Corps Experience: Write and Publish Your Memoir Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) !Universe $23.95;Trade $13.95;Kindle $3.03 127 pages 2012 Review by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993–96) As Jane Albritton (India 1967-69) writes in her Foreword to Lawrence Lihosit’s Peace Corps Experience: Write and Publish Your Memoir, “This book is no idle gift, but a gift-wrapped challenge.” Albritton should know, as Series Editor of the daunting, but brilliantly successful Peace Corps at 50 project. The point of Lihosit’s book is that it is vitally important to write about your Peace Corps experience, not only for your own gratification, but for posterity, because the countries we served in are changing rapidly, and a Volunteer’s experience gives great insight into far-flung places at different points in history. The history of Peace Corps is not a set of dry dates and names of Washington men in suits, but a grand parade of testimonials by . . .

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Review of A Small Key Opens Big Doors

A Small Key Opens Big Doors: 50 Years of Amazing Peace Corps Stories, Volume 3 — The Heart of Eurasia edited by Jay Chen (Kazakhstan 2005–08) Travelers’ Tales 336 pages $18.95 (paperback) 2011 Reviewed by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras, 1975–77) THE PEACE CORPS AT 50 PROJECT, that includes four volumes,* offers an unparalleled, operatic ensemble of voices, singing about the world. About two hundred men and women sing to us, describing 88 of the 139 nations served by the Peace Corps during the past 50 years. The voices are divided into four geographic movements. This book includes voices from those Americans who served in Eurasia — the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, its political satellites and periphery. For those who only vaguely remember the destruction of the Berlin Wall (1989) or television film of the Russian army’s retreat as the empire dissolved (1991), this federation ruled the largest geographic . . .

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Review — WAR OF HEARTS AND MINDS by James Jouppie (Thailand)

  War of Hearts And Minds: An American Memoir by James Jouppi (Thailand 1971–73) iUniverse 618 pages $45.95 (hardcover), $35.95 (paperback), $3.95 (Kindle) 2011 Reviewed by Joanne Roll (Colombia 1963–65) • IN WAR FOR HEARTS AND MINDS, James Jouppi writes about his Peace Corps tour as a civil engineer assigned to the Community Development Corporation Thailand, and what happened to his life as a result.  For those unfamiliar with Thailand and/or Peace Corps, Jouppi has provided maps and identifies key sites mentioned in the book. He has also created a glossary of terms. Jouppi intersperses an historic timeline of public events through out his narrative. In the Preface, to enhance this historical context, Jouppi states: In this memoir, I describe events which were unfolding during a War of Hearts and Minds campaign in Thailand, a War of Hearts and Minds campaign which occurred simultaneously with what, in America, is often . . .

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Review — MAYA 2012 by Joshua Berman (Nicaragua)

Maya 2012: A Guide to Celebrations in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras by Joshua Berman (Nicaragua 1998–2000) Moon Travel Guides 128 pages $7.99 (paperback) October 2011 Reviewed by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975–77) TRAVELERS WHO PLAN TO EXPLORE the Mayan world this coming year need this book! Even the seasoned trekker with a worn and patched backpack, creased boots, frayed hat and a passport bulging with extra pages will want to buy Maya 2012 before it’s sold out. It has it all: great maps, background information, descriptions of tours, transportation and discount hotels. It also contains conversion tables, an index, Mayan words and phrases, interesting interviews with important Mayan scholars and even a suggested reading list. This ain’t no guide to overpriced hotels and do-dads, but a book written for us serious wayfarers. For those with only a whiff of Mayan history, this book will convince you that the place . . .

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Review — A VILLAGE SON REMEMBERS by Mark Lewis (The Gambia 1970-72)

A Village Son Remembers Mark R. Lewis (The Gambia 1970–72) Self published 104 pages 2010 Reviewed by David H. Day (Kenya 1965–66; India 1967–68) I HADN’T GIVEN IT MUCH THOUGHT AT FIRST, but the torn and singed pages of what appears to be a personal journal on the cover of this slim paperback provides a clue to just one of the traumatic incidents punctuating Mark Lewis’ Peace Corps assignment in The Gambia. This reviewer was  soon led through a series of incidents that, on one hand, for their sheer shock value, astounded, and prompted me to recall one of our great Peace Corps mantras in coping with the vagaries of life in exotic places: flexibility. And is Lewis ever flexible! His equanimity in the face of the unexpected is exemplary. Even before the group departs the States, there was a snafu and Lewis was visited during training by two FBI . . .

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Review — FROM THE SAN JOAQUIN by Barry Kitterman (Belize)

From the San Joaquin: Stories by Barry Kitterman (Belize 1976–78) Southern Methodist University Press $23.95 208 pages 2011 Reviewed by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963–65) IN ANTICIPATION OF WRITING THIS REVIEW I read Barry Kitterman’s award winning debut novel, The Baker’s Boy (The Maria Thomas Award for Fiction), which I admired greatly, but which didn’t prepare me for the muscular, thoroughly authentic voice of From the San Joaquin. From the San Joaquin has been compared to Winesburg, Ohio; it’s more a novel in form than a collection of short stories as well as a decidedly American story of small town life, but unlike Winesburg it never flirts with the grotesque, nor panders to notions of quaintness. Covering a forty year span, Kitterman subtly weaves the lives of half a dozen main characters and a dozen subsidiary ones into a complex, multileveled narrative. It’s set in Ivanhoe, California in Tulare County, the . . .

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Review — A PEACE CORPS MEMOIR by Terry Sack (Bolivia 1963–65)

Reviewer Leita Kaldi Davis worked for the United Nations and UNESCO, for Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Harvard University. She worked with Roma (Gypsies) for fifteen years, became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal at the age of 55, then went to work for the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti for five years. She retired in Florida in 2002.  She has written a memoir of Senegal, Roller Skating in the Desert, and is working on a memoir of Haiti. • A Peace Corps Memoir: Answering JFK’s Call by Terry Sack (Bolivia 1963–65; PC/Washington 1968–69) Createspace $15.95 449 pages 2010 Reviewed by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) WHEN I FIRST SAW the title, A Peace Corps Memoir: Answering JFK’s Call, I expected a dry narrative of a typical Peace Corps experience, but the author’s unique stories and clear writing style surprised and delighted me. And how could I . . .

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Review — Whispering Campaign by Larry Lihosit (Honduas 1975-77)

Whispering Campaign: Stories from Mesoamerica by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) iUniverse, Inc. $11.95 120 pages November, 2009 Reviewed by Allen W. Fletcher (Senegal 1969-71) • Lawrence Lihosit is an inveterate self-publisher, has served us up a pungent and tasty array of stories in his Whispering Campaign – Stories from Mesoamerica. They have the allure of Mexican street food — rough and honest and earthy. They are laced with the complementary spices of cross-cultural compassion and gringo guilt; and they go directly to the gut. Lihosit spent a total of seven and a half years in Mexico and Central America, and from the feel of it, it was not a touristic enterprise. By his own account he grew close enough to the people of the several countries in which he lived to tip toe on the dangerous side of local politics. There is no question where his feelings fall with . . .

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