Review — ENCOUNTERS WITH RONGELAP by Richard Sundt (Marshall Islands)


Encounters with Rongelap: 1968-1969 Fourteen Years After the Nuclear Fallout — Life & Environment Around a Great Lagoon
by Richard Sundt (Marshall Island 1968-69)
132 pages
October 2019
$30.00 (print); $1.99 (Ebook) [Buy from:]

Reviewed By Bob Arias (Colombia 1964-66)

“Rongelap was my home away from home!”

Author Richard Sundt brings us “three books” in one that is an exciting look at his Peace Corps experience on the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. Encounters with Rongelap takes us to his Peace Corps site in Rongelap Atoll, home for two years, 1968-1969, which was fourteen years after the nuclear testing on the Bikini Atoll, a distance of 94 miles away,  in 1954 .

An awesome cover with a view of the Pacific introduces you to an exciting book filled with lots and lots of photos, and detailed reports home to his parents. Book One consisted of the numerous reports home . . . before computers and the Internet. In training, we all said that we would keep records of our experience, but not as detailed as Richard. What got my attention because they speak a thousand of words . . . the collection of photos in the book, that I call Book Two. And to be honest, the photos got my attention before the Reports Home!

Book Three is a serious look at life before and after the nuclear testing on the Bikini Atoll in 1954. Richard translates the work and feelings of his friend John Anjain, a Marshallese and eyewitness to the destruction of the nuclear fallout. Learn from John Anjain how life was changed for the Marshallese after the testing. Never the same afterwards.

In 1788, British Captain William Marshall sets anchor in the Islands. Almost two hundred years later, Richard Sundt makes Rongelap his home in the Marshall Islands. It is in his blood, both his grandfathers were Norwegians influenced by the sea, and settled in Argentina where Richard was born. He became a Naturalized Citizen and elected to serve with the Peace Corps in the Pacific, rather than in Latin America in spite of his fluency in Spanish.

A positive and fun-filled book that will take you away to the Pacific and share the life of a young Peace Corps Volunteer who finds a second home with his adopted family and friends in Rongelap. As with most Volunteers, the memories remain with you for the rest 0f your life . . . guiding you on what you want to do in your future. JFK gave us the spirit to make a difference.

I strongly encourage you to take a moment to check out the photos in Encounters with Rongelap, awesome!  Kodak would be proud . . . then curl up to review each Report as he makes the Marshall Islands his home! I enjoyed the challenge of the book, thanks!

Bob Arias ( Colombia 1964-66) later served as Associate Peace Corps Director in Colombia from 1968 to 1973, and Peace Corps Country Director in Uruguay and Argentina from 1993 to 1995. He returned to work at the Peace Corps from 2001 to 2003 assisting in establishing the agency’s Safety and Security Office after 9/11. He is now retired from Los Angeles County where he served as the County’s Compliance Officer. 


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