Peace Corps writers

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AFGHANISTAN AT A TIME OF PEACE by Robin Varnum
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LAST BEST HOPE by George Packer (Togo) reviewed
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THIS COUNTRY: My Life in Politics and History by Chris Matthews (Swaziland)
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RIVERBLINDNESS IN AFRICA: Taming the Lion’s Stare — Bruce Benton (Guinea)
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2021 Green Earth Book Award Winner — Josh Swiller (Zambia)
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Martin Ganzglass’s (Somalia) new short stories GOATS
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Talking to Ted Wells (Ethiopia) author of POWER, CHAOS & CONSENSUS
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RISK AND THE STATE by Phil LeBel (Ethiopia)
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Eric Torgersen (Ethiopia) — Honorary Chancellor of the Poetry Society of Michigan
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A Journey of Love, Faith, Strength, and Determination by Grover Jackson (Kenya)

AFGHANISTAN AT A TIME OF PEACE by Robin Varnum

  It is now difficult to imagine Afghanistan any otherwise than at war. In the early 1970s, however, when Robin Varnum  was serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer (1971–73), the country was enjoying an interlude of peace. Varnum was teaching English in a girls’ school, and since some girls were able to go to school in Afghanistan in those days, she hoped to help her students gain access to the kinds of opportunities that were available to other girls in other parts of the world. She admired the bravery of her students, and she took inspiration from the work of Dr. Khadija Akbar, the Afghan woman doctor who was running her community’s family planning clinic. Afghanistan at a Time of Peace is a memoir of Varnum’s Peace Corps experience. She was stationed in Ghazni, a small city some 85 miles southwest of Kabul, and she served there alongside Mark, . . .

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LAST BEST HOPE by George Packer (Togo) reviewed

  Speaking Truth to Both the Right and the Left by Emily Bazelon June 14, 2021 The Times Magazine • LAST BEST HOPE: America in Crisis and Renewal by George Packer THE CONSTITUTION OF KNOWLEDGE: A Defense of Truth by Jonathan Rauch Like many public intellectuals who are worth reading, George Packer and Jonathan Rauch don’t toe a predictable line in American political and intellectual debate. They despise Donald Trump and the disinformation-heavy discord he has spawned. But they don’t share all the views of progressives, either, as they’ve come to be defined in many left-leaning spaces. Packer and Rauch are here to defend the liberalism of the Enlightenment — equality and scientific rationality in an unapologetically Western-tradition sense. They see this belief system as the country’s great and unifying strength, and they’re worried about its future. Packer’s slim book, “Last Best Hope,” begins with patriotic despair. “The world’s pity has taken the place of admiration, hostility, awe, . . .

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THIS COUNTRY: My Life in Politics and History by Chris Matthews (Swaziland)

  In This Country: My Life in Politics and History, Chris Matthews (Swaziland 1968-70) offers a panoramic portrait of post–World War II America through the story of his remarkable life and career. It is a story of risk and adventure, of self-reliance and service, of loyalty and friendship. It is a story-driven by an abiding faith in our country. Raised in a large Irish-Catholic family in Philadelphia at a time when kids hid under their desks in atomic war drills, Chris’s life etched a pattern: take a leap, live an adventure, then learn what it means. As a young returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Chris moved to DC and began knocking on doors on Capitol Hill. With dreams of becoming what Ted Sorensen had been for Jack Kennedy, Chris landed as a staffer to Utah Senator Frank Moss, where his eyes were opened to the game of big-league politics. In 1974, Matthews mounted . . .

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RIVERBLINDNESS IN AFRICA: Taming the Lion’s Stare — Bruce Benton (Guinea)

  Reviews of Riverblindness in Africa: Taming the Lion’s Stare by Bruce Benton   Reviews on Johns Hopkins University Press Website “In this book, Benton combines a huge amount of research with his unique insight into the evolution of riverblindness programs during his career at the World Bank. For those interested in the complexities of managing disease control programs and the need for strong partnerships, this is a must-read.” — David H. Molyneux, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine   “An inspiring and essential contribution to the literature on international development and public health.” — Jean-Louis Sarbib, former Senior Vice President, World Bank   “The authoritative record and historical account of one of the most ambitious and successful parasite control approaches from someone who has been a key part of onchocerciasis control from just about the beginning.” — Gilbert M. Burnham, MD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health   “Comprehensive, detailed, inspiring! Highlights . . .

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2021 Green Earth Book Award Winner — Josh Swiller (Zambia)

    The Nature Generation is pleased to announce our 2021 Green Earth Book Award winners. Each Earth Day, we bestow this award to children’s and young adult literature that best convey the message of environmental stewardship. We applaud the winning authors who continue to tell the stories about the environmental challenges we all face in a way that resonates with children and young adults. And the winner of the award for Young Adult Fiction 2021 is Bright Shining World by   Josh Swiller (Zambia 1994–96)  •

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Martin Ganzglass’s (Somalia) new short stories GOATS

  A tenured professor writes the definitive history of Philip of Macedon with help from a most unusual source. A visit to the Metropolitan Opera trips up an embezzler who has planned the perfect escape. The day before Thanksgiving from a dog’s eye view. An aging Italian man with a secret past in East Africa. Two families grapple with the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. Friendships and rivalries boil over in a veterans’ retirement home. In ten imaginative short stories, Martin Ganzglass weaves together the mundane and the supernatural to reveal relationships that are at once humorous and humane. • Goats: And Other Stories Martin Ganzglass (Somalia 1966–68) Peace Corps Writers March, 2021 305 pages $10.00 (paperback)

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Talking to Ted Wells (Ethiopia) author of POWER, CHAOS & CONSENSUS

  Ted, where are you from in the States? I was born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised in a small town called Sharon 20 miles south of the city. I started a 5 year degree in Architecture at the University of Oregon in Eugene, but finished it at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where I met my wife-to-be, Helen, who was born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, but had moved to Colorado just before I arrived. Why the Peace Corps? I was strongly opposed to the Vietnam War and would have emigrated to Canada with my wife of ten months had we not both been accepted into the Peace Corps immediately after I graduated from university. Thankfully, my Draft Board accepted this as an alternative to Vietnam. Why Ethiopia? We would have accepted any assignment anywhere in the Peace Corps, but Community Development work in Ethiopia was the only choice . . .

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RISK AND THE STATE by Phil LeBel (Ethiopia)

  Economics demonstrates how markets can serve as remarkably efficient institutions in allocating scarce resources. • At the same time, incomplete information generates prices that can lead to a misallocation, producing in some cases too little while in others too much of a good. Matters become more complicated when striking a balance is influenced by our perceptions of risk. Here, neuroscience provides insights into which, and what kind of public sector interventions one should consider. While there are many types of risk – political, economic, financial, and environmental as individuals confront any crisis, our perceptions of risk can alter significantly the extent to which we look to public sector intervention as a response. In the short run, crises may be managed through greater public intervention while in the long run, economic fundamentals still drive key decisions, and thus the extent to which a given mix meets a test of political . . .

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Eric Torgersen (Ethiopia) — Honorary Chancellor of the Poetry Society of Michigan

  With IN WHICH WE SEE OUR SELVES, Eric Torgersen begins with the formal structure of the ghazal as popularized by Agha Shahid Ali and unapologetically makes a more American thing of it, arguing in his Afterword that this transformation is as inevitable as what happens when the children of immigrant parents pass through an American junior high school: not everyone is pleased with the result.“I’ve tried to avoid faux- Eastern themes and tones,” he writes. Fluently metrical and effortlessly rhymed, at times in short, hard-hitting lines with refrains as brief as a single word, these poems leap off the page with speech as American as this: My gang all quit when I didn’t split the take right. We crashed and burned when I didn’t hit the brake right. Following the common practice of “signing” the poems in the final couplet, Torgersen allows a chorus of voices — selves? — . . .

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A Journey of Love, Faith, Strength, and Determination by Grover Jackson (Kenya)

  Grover Jackson, co-author of a generation-spanning memoir which details the life of a Black Southern sharecropper family in America, announces a multimedia event — “Back to Kenya”  • A Journey of Love, Faith, Strength, and Determination by Grover Jackson (Kenya 1967-69, Mary Fullard and E. Christine Jackson Newman Springs Press 422 pages September 2020 $8.99 (Kindle); $24.95 (Paperback); $36.95 (Hardback) STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga., March 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Grover Jackson, Mary Fullard, and E. Christine Jackson announced the upcoming release of a multimedia presentation and lecture to pair with their recently published co-authored memoir, A Journey of Love, Faith, Strength, and Determination. As part of the epic family journey detailed in the book, Grover’s powerful and transformative two-year Peace Corps deployment to Kenya in 1967 is reexamined as a legacy journey of personal understanding. Grover returned to Kenya in January of 2020 to revisit the places and people that touched and changed him as a young man . . .

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