First Books About The Peace Corps

In case you’re wondering (or want to do your Ph.D on the Peace Corps) the first books and pamphlets on the agency in the first five years came out in 1961. There were four published that year. In 1962 one play was produced; 1963 had five more books in print; 1964 six books; three in 1965. One by an RPCV.They are:


An International Peace Corps: The Promise and Problems, by Samuel P. Hayes published by Public Affairs Institute. It cost $1.00 (1961)

Complete Peace Corps Guide, by Ray Hoopes, with an introduction by R. Sargent Shriver published by Dial Press. It cost $3.50. (1961)

New Frontiers for American Youth: Perspective on the Peace Corps by Maurice L. Albertson, Andrew E. Rice and Pauline E. Birkey published by Public Affairs Press. It cost $4.50. (1961)

Peace Corps: Who, How and Where by Charles E. Wingenbach, with a foreword by Hubert H. Humphrey published by John Day Company. It cost $1.50. (1961)


Peace Corps Girls: A Play in Three Acts by David Rogers published by Dramatic Publishing Co. It cost $1.00. (1962)


Breaking the Bonds. A Novel About the Peace Corps by Sharon Spencer published by Tempo Books, Grosset & Dunlap. It cost $.50. (1963)

Hidden Force by Francis W. Godwin, Richard N. Goodwin and William F. Haddad, with a foreword by R. Sargent Shriver published by Harper & Row. It cost $3.95. (1963)

Peace Corps by Glenn D. Kittle, with an introduction by R. Sargent Shriver published by Paperback Library. It cost. $.50. (1963)

U.S. Peace Corps: The Challenge of Good Will by Susan Whittlesey published by Coward-McCann. It cost $2.95. (1963)


Letters From the Peace Corps edited by Iris Luce and published by David McKay Company. It cost $2.95. (1964)

Peace Corps by Pauline Madow published by H.W. Wilson Company. It cost $3.00. (1964)

Peace Corps in Action by Velma Adams published by Follett Publishing Company. It cost $5.95. (1964)

Point of the Lanceby R. Sargent Shriver published by Harper & Row. It cost $4.95. (1964)

Sargent Shriver: A Candid Portrait by Robert A. Liston published by Farrar, Straus & Company. It cost $4.50.

Story of the Peace Corps by George Sullivan, with an introduction by R. Sargent Shriver published by Fleet Publishing Corporation. It cost $3.50. (1964)


Peace Corps: Who, How and Where, revised edition by Charles E. Wingenbach and published by McGraw-Hill Publishing. It cost $1.95. (1965)

The Peace Corps A Pictorial History, Edited by Aaron J. Ezickson with an Introduction by Sargent Shriver and published by Hill and Wang. It cost $6.95.

[The photographs for this book were taken (mostly) by the two early and great in-house photographers of the agency: Paul Conklin and Rowland Scherman.]

To The Peace Corps with Love by Arnold Zeitlin (Ghana 1961-63) published by Doubleday. It cost $4.95. (1985)

[This was was first book published by an RPCV about life in the Peace Corps.]


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  • Great list! Are any of this available anywhere other than second hand bookstores? Especially by Sarge?
    Girls of the Peace corps? Really? I hate to think how we were portrayed at that time.

    • My guess is that only second hand book stores (if you’re lucky) as well as a few college libraries. But few and far between. I gave about a 100 books by RPCVs, Staff, etc. recently to American University which has a special Peace Corps library. There is also the new Peace Corps museum being established in Portland, Oregon.

  • The number of memoirs from the 1960s is very limited. Most books published were put together by commercial companies and/or the Peace Corps itself. Self-publication was extremely expensive. You had to order a minimum of 1,000 copies which cost at least four months wages. The deluge of Peace Corps memoirs really began with Print-On-Demand books nearly twenty years ago.

    Early Peace Corps books were interesting but rarely as gritty as the later ones since the editing process tended to omit anything that might be construed as negative. There were several PCVs who came home and wrote books that they self-published and photocopied. These were generally shared with family and friends although a few did send copies to library special collections.

    In general, a self-published PC memoir offers a better word picture of a specific place and time. While true that they are very often poorly edited, the authors are aflame with passion and honesty. A Peace Corps Special Collection in the Library of Congress would guarantee that these obscure but truthful accounts might survive for the next generation.

  • Sue: I published Peace Corps Bibliography to aid anyone searching for such books. This available on books. Although John and Marian’s list is more up to date, this book is pretty inclusive of old books. You might find it helpful.

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