J. Grigsby Crawford (Ecuador 2009-11) is the author of The Gringo: A Memoir, which tells the story of his two years as a PCV. He served in Peace Corps Ecuador’s Natural Resource Conservation program, and ultimately wrote a successful grant to help build a greenhouse at the local high school in his Amazonian community. But Grigsby writes: The Gringo tells a different Peace Corps tale than one is used to hearing.
In Ecuador, Crawford was originally sent to the coast, where after just a few months he narrowly escaped an abduction attempt and was pulled out by security and forced to change sites. From there–as the synopsis of The Gringo states–he undertakes “a savage journey of danger, drugs, sex, and alarming illness.” It is a PCV story that is both tragic and sharply humorous.
The Gringo was published in December 2012 and, he says, “immediately met national attention,” getting excerpted in the Huffington Post and earning Crawford an appearance on the CBS News program Author Talk. Critics and celebrities such as Chevy Chase and RPCV author Josh Swiller (Zambia 1994-96) have lauded The Gringo. One or two RPCVs have already compared it to the “classics” Peace Corps book, Living Poor by Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador 1965-67). ( That might be a stretch, but they both did serve in Ecuador.)
Crawford grew up in Colorado and graduated from the George Washington University with a degree in Political Science & English. As a journalist and writer, he has covered everything from presidential primaries and politics to murder and local mosquito populations.
His writing has appeared in Congressional Quarterly, the Colorado Daily newspaper, Mile High Sports Magazine, and various blogs, ranging in topics from sports to men’s fashion.
Today he works for a boutique PR firm in D.C. and lives, he says, “somewhat peacefully” in Northwest Washington. The “publisher’ of The Gringo is himself, and he has produced, to his credit, an attractive ‘package’ of a book calling it Wild Elephant Press. Having a background in public relations, this is a RPCV who knows what to do when it comes to getting the word out about his Peace Corps story.