2012

In the Valley of Atibon

valley-atibon1by Leita Kaldi (Senegal 1993–96)
A Peace Corps Writers Book
$20.00 (paperback), $3.99 (Kindle)
272 pages

November 2012

IN THIS MEMOIR, Leita chronicles her experiences as a middle-aged white woman who goes to Haiti filled with good intentions to manage Hôpital Albert Schweitzer and its community development program. What unfolds for her, however, is a hell filled with young revolutionaires and vagabons who threaten her life, and the very existence of the hospital and the program. Prompted by these experiences she delves into the mysteries of Voudou, and learns first hand about the undercurrent of terror that drives rural Haitians.

In contrast with numerous shocking incidents that occurred during her five years in Haiti, Kaldi also tells of tender adventures of her daily life, and of being inspired and comforted by many of the Haitians with whom she works — the doctors, nurses, agronomists, her housemaid, and others who teach her surprising lessons in dignity, faith and forgiveness.

Entwined with her story, Leita narrates the uplifting story of Dr. Larimer Mellon, and his wife, Gwen Grant Mellon, who founded the hospital in 1956 and spent their lives serving people in the Valley. Theirs too was an experience fraught with problems that demanded their courage, resourcefulness and dedication to the Haitian people.

Read John Coyne’s interview with Leita Kaldi
Read Barbara Joe’s review of In the Valley of Atibon

Death to the Rescue: A Twisting Creek Mystery

death-rescueby R J Huddy (Morocco)
A Peace Corps Writers Book
$15.95 (paperback), $2.99 (Kindle)
308 pages
October 2012

FOR OVER A YEAR the town of Twisting Creek, Kentucky has been obsessed with the enigmatic African immigrant accused of the brutal strangulation of a popular young Sunday School teacher. A self-described “ear-witness” describes overhearing an argument that ended with Lovemore Ngweyna shouting at Sarah Lester, “You’re dead, woman.” Sheriff Greer says, “Of course he’s guilty. Do you think one man threatened to kill her, and lo and behold an hour later another man did?” The prosecution knows it’s open-and-shut. “Women of any color don’t like men of any color who strangle women — of any color.” Thus does Assistant DA James Miller explain the prosecution’s eagerness to seat African-American women on the jury. Miller adds, “At the time of the arrest, Lovemore was in possession of Sarah’s missing jewelry.” That adds up to premeditated murder, Miller says, and that means it’s death for Lovemore.
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Read P. David Searles review of Death to the Rescue

Recollections of Our Peace Corps Service, 1963–1965: Kick-Off, Life in Guatemala, and Afterwards

recollectionsEdited by Dave Smits (Guatemala 1963–65)
A Peace Corps Writers Book
$14.95 (paperback), $8.95 (Kindle)
308 pages
October 2012

IN THE FIRST SECTION OF RECOLLECTIONS . . ., the personal stories of twenty six former Peace Corps Volunteers who served with Guatemala III from 1963 to 1965 reveal a variety of motives for their joining the Peace Corps. Conspicuous among them is the profound influence of President John F. Kennedy. Many members of the group responded to his challenge to, “Ask what you can do for your country.”

Section II of the book is devoted to the Volunteers’ recollections of their service in Guatemala. Their “community development” projects scattered them throughout the country. Such projects varied greatly, but all were defined by the needs of the Guatemalans themselves. Financial backing for projects was generally meager unless creative fund-raising measures were launched. Laborers were local people, often unpaid volunteers. Great challenges were faced; inconveniences, discomforts, and “culture shock” was endured. Group members relied upon one another for support, advice, encouragement, comfort, companionship and more.

The book’s last section offers the Volunteers’ impressions of the impact of their Peace Corps service on their later lives. For most, it was pivotal and life-shaping. Their perspectives on the world were broadened and deepened. An appreciation of their own society’s freedoms, economic opportunities, scientific advancements, and creature comforts was gained. Most agree that they, not the Guatemalans, were the principal beneficiaries of the experience.

Read Lita Kaldi’s review of Recollections of Our Peace Corps Service 1963–1965: Kick-Off, Life in Guatemala, and Afterwards:

Never Gonna Cease My Wanderin’: Letters Between Friends

never-gonna-cease2by Ruth Kesselring Royal (Philippines 1961–63) and Beryl Brinkman (Afghanistan 1967–69)
A Peace Corps Writers Book
$15.00 (paperback), $14.99 (Kindle)
280 pages
September 2012

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IN THE LATE 1950s, two young women at a small Midwestern college forge a friendship which will extend a lifetime and is at the core of their letter exchanges as they travel the world. Together the pair march into the ’60s, picking their way around the land mines of that liberating era. They explore their hearts, and souls, as they join the Peace Corps, writing to compare experiences, raise new questions. Never Gonna Cease My Wanderin’ is a collection of Ruth and Beryl’s letters. It pulls the reader into their worlds as Volunteers in the Philippines and Afghanistan and then their lives beyond. How will these two friends, bonded by dreams of internationalism, equal rights and a personal haven, find their way?

Read Douglas Foley’s review of Never Gonna Cease My Wanderin’

The Measure of a Dream: A Peace Corps Story

measure-dreamby Lora Parisien Begin (Tunisia 1988–90)
A Peace Corps Writers Book
$16.96 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle)
356 pages
July 2012

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WEST MEETS MIDDLE EAST in this engaging story of a young American woman who follows her dream of joining the Peace Corps and is sent to live and work in a Muslim country for two years. Her Peace Corps “dream” never included random marriage proposals, or World Heritage Sites caving in on her, or run-ins with the CIA, or war. This culture shockingly fascinating story will take readers on a very personal journey to a land and a people few Americans know.

Read Kitty Thuermer’s review of The Measure of a Dream
Read John Coyne’s interview with Lora Parisien Begin
Read John Coyne’s article about promoting self-published books that talks about The Measure of a Dream

Somalia: Short Fiction

somaliaby Martin R. Ganzglass
A Peace Corps Writers Book
$7.99 (paperback); $2.99 (Kindle)
356 pages
July 2012

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THIS COLLECTION OF STORIES draws on a deep well of experience to give us seven vignettes that play out on the Horn of Africa after colonialism. From the early optimism following independence, to the rise of Siad Barre and the collapse of his brutal dictatorship, Somalia is a detailed portrayal of the conflicted motivations and incorruptible friendships born of a beautiful and troubled country.

Dodging Machetes: How I Survived Forbidden Love, Bad Behavior, and the Peace Corps in Fiji

dodging-machetesby Will Lutwick (Fiji 1968–70)
A Peace Corps Writers Book
$15.95 (paperback); $7.99 (Kindle)
266 pages
May 2012

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WILL LUTWICK, A QUIRKY MISFIT, gets an MBA at twenty-two, but soon realizes he and the American corporate world are a horrid mismatch. He joins the Peace Corps and is sent to the Fiji Islands, the quintessential tropical paradise. Will finds himself attracted to prohibited pulchritude when Rani Gupta, a beautiful, rebellious twenty-year-old from a traditional Hindu family, begins working in his office. Dating is taboo in Fiji’s large Indian community, and an interracial couple would be unprecedented. But Rani and Will soon discover their mutual attraction impossible to resist. Their liaison is clandestine, but word gets out, and a cultural firestorm engulfs Rani’s community. The two lovers are under constant threat of attack, and violence ensues. Will must confront his personal demons about courage and commitment, while Rani is treated like a pariah by her people. Will the besieged lovers stay together, or will a hostile world tear them apart?

Read Larry Lihosit’s review of Dodging Machetes.
Read John Coyne’s interview with Will Lutwick.

Brazil Heads and Tales: 1965–1967 Peace Corps

brazil-heads-talesby Tomas Belsky (Brazil 1965–67)
CreateSpace
114 pages
$20.00 (paperback), $9.95 (Kindle)
February 2012

Using reflections of his Peace Corps years in Brazil, artist-author Tomas Belsky has created verses, short stories and  illustrations that take us on a culturally revealing journey into the rich and vast poverty stricken region of Northeastern Brazil. Here we get a glimpse into the Peace Corps that is both hilarious and heart rending. Along the way we meet peasants, prostitutes and priests in a colorful vignette of America’s twin to the south.

Through the Eyes of My Children: The Adventures of a Peace Corps Volunteer Family

through-eyes-childrenby Frances L. Stone (Philippines 1971–73)
A Peace Corps Writers Book
172 pages
$12.99 (paperback)
February 2012

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THIS BOOK IS AN EASY, FUN READ for preteens through adults who are interested in Peace Corps and what it is like to be a Volunteer. It is different because it is the first book to be written for young people about Peace Corps and it is the first to be written about a Peace Corps Volunteer family — a small part of Peace Corps Volunteer history that few are aware of. It is also the first to be written from the children’s point of view. It is an easy read because it has been written in the voices of the children at the ages they were as Volunteers. Even the 3-year old has memories to share. So don’t let the simple language keep you from giving it a try. Learning about Peace Corps through these children may inspire a young person to consider being a Peace Corps Volunteer as a way of serving his/her country.

Read Barbara Joe’s review of Through the Eyes of My Children