Archive - July 16, 2010

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Mad Man # 5
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Mad Man # 4
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Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996-97) Plays Games

Mad Man # 5

Speaking up in the Conference Table on the 5th floor in the Maiatico Building, surrounded by the Mad Men & Mad Women,  Bob Gale told Shriver and the others that Sam Babbitt’s ‘gentleman’ approach to recruiting wasn’t working. In a way (to use today’s terminology), the Peace Corps wasn’t a ‘brand’; it had not established its value with college students where most of the recruits for the new Peace Corps were to be found. “Off the top of my head,” recalled Gale, “I said, I’d get the college administrators and the faculty fully on our side, get them involved. I’d alert the campus newspaper and the campus radio station. I’d co-opt office space in the Student Union–that’s where a lot of the action is at a big university. I’d send out from Washington senior staff and famous names….” Shriver stopped him. He pounded the table with his fist, startling Gale who wasn’t use to Sarge’s ways. Then  came, as Coates Redmon says in her . . .

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Mad Man # 4

Bob Gale began his life at the Peace Corps working in a “rabbit warren of four oddly shaped offices” on the 11th floor of the Maiatico Building. He had one of the best views in Washington, looking out (and down) at Lafayette Park, the White House, the Executive Office Building, the Washington Monument, the Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial, and the landing pattern at National Airport. (Most of us who worked in HQ in those early years had similar views. I was on the 10th floor with a clear view of the park and the White House, and I was a lowly Liaison Officer in the Division of Volunteer Support.) Gale first job was to edit the Congressional Presentation.  Haddad had decided Gale, with “his editorial experience and his mellow, jocular personality,” could rescue this document from prolonged interoffice squabbling. He did just that, but his real gift to the agency came in April of ’63 . . .

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Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996-97) Plays Games

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996-97) has just been published by Random House. Publishers Weekly ( in a starred review) called it “a scintillating meditation on the promise and discontents of video games.” In his book, Tom looks at not just his own passion for video games but also the games themselves. What separates good games from bad? Where do video games fit on the sliding scale of art? Keith Gessen, author of All the Sad Young Literary Men writes, “The last thing I ever thought I’d do in this life is read a book about video games. And yet Extra Lives is sharp, critical, very funny, and Tom Bissell’s description of killing zombies in the first iteration of Resident Evil is simply a tour de force.” Tom, who has also written Chasing the Sea; God Lives in St. Petersburg and Other Stories; and The Father of . . .

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