Archive - March 6, 2009

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RPCV Tayler Travels the Back Roads to Beijing
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Launching the Peace Corps

RPCV Tayler Travels the Back Roads to Beijing

BOOK REVIEW Murderers in Mausoleums: Riding the Back Roads of Empire Between Moscow and Beijing by Jeffrey Tayler (Morocco 1988-90; PC/Staff Poland 1992, Uzbekistan 1992-93) Houghton Mifflin 2009 Reviewed by Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) As SARS crippled Beijing in 2003, a handful of fellow former Peace Corps China volunteers and I waited out the weeks with bad red wine and the fear that comes from being thirty and far from home, uncertain how to continue freelance writing when editors stopped buying stories that were not about the virus and its cover-up. The Moscow-based Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Tayler provided unexpected succor then; we passed around his forward to Facing the Congo, a small masterpiece of an essay on existential angst and the desire to achieve something as a writer by age thirty-three — “the age of Christ!” according to the Russian saying. He accepted the challenge, and then some, setting off in . . .

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Launching the Peace Corps

To close out “Peace Corps Week” here’s a little history lesson on the beginnings of the agency for all the X,Y,Z Generations who ask, “how in the world did all of this happen?” Encouraged by over 25,000 letters responding to his call to serve abroad, Kennedy took immediate action to make the campaign promise a reality. He asked Shriver to direct a Peace Corps Task Force–the famous Mayflower Hotel gang–and within two months the task force had outlined “seven steps” to form the Peace Corps in a February 22, 1961 memorandum to Kennedy. This memo is interesting for several reasons. The first point Shriver made was that the Peace Corps should be established by an Executive Order within the Mutual Security Program. William Josephson, then the only lawyer in the ‘new’ Peace Corps was the principal author of the President’s Executive Order. [This is not entirely true for Shriver was . . .

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