Archive - January 10, 2010

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Author Of The Book That Launched The Peace Corps Dies At 97
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Thirty Days That Built The Peace Corps:Part Seven

Author Of The Book That Launched The Peace Corps Dies At 97

This last month, on December 5, 2009, William J. Lederer, co-author of The Ugly American, died of respiratory failure at Sinai Hosptial in Baltimore. He was 97. Lederer wrote The Ugly American with political scientist Eugene Burdick. They were both appalled at the arrogance and incompetence they saw in the U.S. diplomatic corps in the 1950s. There book is a thinly disguised account of how the United States was squandering billions of dollars and, through bungling and ignorance of local cultures, ceding influence in Asia to the Soviet Union. In the New York Times, Orville Prescott said the book was neither subtle as art nor altogether convincing as fiction. “It deals in too-broad generalizations and oversimplifies too many issues. But as fictionalized reporting it is excellent – blunt, forceful, completely persuasive.” Lederer and Burdick originally wrote their book as nonfiction, only to rework it at the last minute to create . . .

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Thirty Days That Built The Peace Corps:Part Seven

A Towering Task The day after his inauguration, President Kennedy telephoned Shriver and asked him to form a presidential Task Force “to report how the Peace Corps should be organized and then to organize it.” When he heard from Kennedy, Shriver immediately called Harris Wofford. At the time, Shriver was 44; Wofford was 34. They had become good friends during the campaign. Wofford had worked as Kennedy’s adviser on civil rights, and together they had worked on the talent hunt for staffing for the new administration. Initially, the Task Force consisted solely of Shriver and Wofford, sitting in a suite of two rooms that they had rented at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. Most of their time was spent making calls to personal friends they thought might be helpful. One name led to another: Gordon Boyce, president of the Experiment in International Living; Albert Sims of the Institute of International Education; . . .

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