Frank Mankiewicz’s (Staff 1961-65, DC & CD Peru) SO AS I WAS SAYING

 

This February 16th Thomas Dunne Books will publish the memoir of the late Frank Mankiewicz, So As I Was Saying . . .: My Somewhat Eventful Life, written by Frank and Joel Swerdlow.

so-as-i-was-saying2The book tells the story of one of the very early Peace Corps staff members, the first CD in Peru, and later Latin America Regional Director who later went on to become Senator Robert Kennedy’s press secretary, as well as, for George McGovern, and who had a long career in media and politics.

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Frank Mankiewicz, behind him a statue of Robert F. Kennedy

Much of what is written about in this book about his Peace Corps tour was first recounted in Coates Redmon’s Come As You Are published in 1986 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. What’s news here, at least to me, is the background involving Mankiewicz and LBJ during the Dominican Republic Invasion of 1965 when PCVs in-country were in almost unanimous support of the rebels opposing General Wessin and told the US so, going against US policy. Mankiewicz was sent by LBJ (I am sure at the suggestion of Bill Moyers) down to Santo Domingo where, with the help of PCV Kirby Jones, he was able to calm the crisis and Johnson did not order all the Volunteers home.

More in the memoir recounts tales from the famous Mankiewicz family as well as Frank’s important role with Bobby Kennedy and his work to start the National Public Radio, but the Peace Corps gets a full chapter. As he says in the book,

I doubt if John F. Kennedy or Sargent Shriver had anticipated the wide result when contemplating the impact of the Peace Corps on the Americans who went overseas to learn how life was lived in the developing world, but for me it was clear: The Peace Corps radicalized us. I see this clearly within myself and hear it from the hundreds, indeed thousands, of returned volunteers I have met and observed as various reunions.

Photo by Will Rabbe

 

 

2 Comments

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  • When I ET’d on the death of my dad and had to get a job financially supporting our family, I became immersed in civil rights activities in Dallas.

  • In the Summer of ’64 I was in PC Training for Peru at Cornell University. Frank was the first person I ever heard speaking in public about “revolution.” Just back from Peru he explained to us that we were “fomenting a revolution because we were going to give the poor a voice.” Keep in mind the first Indigenous President to arise in South America 500 years after the Spanish Conquest was in Peru, in the smelliest city of Peru, Chimbote — anchovy fish meal capitol of the World. An Indian shoeshine boy had to leave Peru in order to get a university education and he heroically returned to displace corrupt leadership. Peru now has its 2nd Indigenous President Ollanta Humala. Frank was right. No one in Peru would help the Indigenous, only gringos de Cuerpo de Paz would be so audacious, so heroic to voice support of the poor. Thanks to Frank Mankiewicz for having the cajones to foment social change Americans can feel proud to support. Godspeed Mank

    WM Evensen
    PERU 1964-66

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