Next week on this site we’ll be publishing a review of Lawrence Lihosit’s new book, Peace Corps Chronology: 1961–2010. The review is by P. David Searles (CD Philippines 197174; PC/W 1974-76) who writes of Lihosit’s book: “A lot can happen in fifty years, as demonstrated by Lawrence F. Lihosit’s superb book: Peace Corps Chronology, 1961-2010. Lihosit has carefully sifted through an immense cache of Peace Corps data from a wide variety of sources, some of which are familiar and some of which were previously unknown, at least to me. In the book he gives a detailed account of the critical happenings - year by year, decade by decade - from 1961 to the present.” In anticipation of David’s review, I emailed Larry a few questions about why he undertook the task of doing all of this research on the agency. Here’s what he had to say.
What is Peace Corps Chronology: 1961-2010 all about?
It is a straight forward redaction of significant facts about the Peace Corps in chronological order.
Why compile, write, and publish this information?
Well, after my Peace Corps memoir, South of the Frontera, I had no intention of ever writing another Peace Corps book. It was P. David Searles’ blog on this site that started it. He made an all-call for a Peace Corps timeline, stating that existing ones were incomplete. As an urban planner, I have put together project chronologies for years. It seemed like a simple request based upon an e-dare.
What were your sources for the facts and figures?
I started with the Peace Corps web site. Some other writers held my hand and pointed to other great sources, like Hugh Pickens’ Peace Corps Online. I went to libraries. I interviewed people. Since I am also my family chronicler, this history detective stuff is not so new.
Tell us some of the surprising facts you discovered.
There were lots of surprises, some positive. It was great to find out that attrition dropped dramatically to 1960’s levels. It was wonderful to find out how representatives of both parties have helped. There were also a few sad surprises. I had no idea that volunteer suicide was a problem in the 1980’s just as the rape of female volunteers became a serious problem during the last decade. I also had no idea how many volunteers had died during or immediately following service. This was the most sobering.
Why did you spend time and energy and your own money on this book?
Why? I guess because I am the great grandson of a coal miner, the grandson of a coal miner turned machinist, the son of a truck driver turned salesman. Everything I have accomplished was possible by standing on their shoulders while they stood firmly in the U.S.A. There are debts to be paid and thanks to be given. This project is just a small token of my appreciation to a government which permitted me the opportunity to swap work for adventure.
Do you think your book will help the Peace Corps do a better job?
The book is meant to be a tiny note among volumes, a forget-me-not.
One last question, how do we get a copy of Peace Corps Chronology: 1961-2010?
It is available at Amazon in hard back, trade paperback or e-book format. If I were a rich man, I would give the book away. The best I can offer is a reasonable price. Thank you for asking.