The 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.
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