Review of Stephen E. Murphy’s memoir: On the Edge: An Odyssey (Latin America)


On the Edge: An Odyssey
Stephen E. Murphy (Regional Director, Inter-Americas Region, 2002-2003)
Odyssey Chapters (via CreateSpace), Seattle, WA
September 23, 2016
188 pages
$15.95 paperback, $5.99 Kindle

Reviewed by Bob Arias (Colombia 1964-66)

Harvard missed an opportunity to welcome young Steve from Seattle, and work on his MBA with Boston’s finest…their loss, our gain! On the Edge, An Odyssey takes you from the Northwest to Boston to Rio and South America. Full of surprises and adventure, as well as serving in the administrations of Bush 1 and Bush 2. I found his book both exciting and a joy to explore funny moments as Steve becomes an adult in Brazil. But before he can continue, Vietnam calls and he becomes a US Navy Lieutenant junior grade, and finds himself as a participant in the war.

Steve, or as the Brazilians call him…Estive, never allows grass to grow under his feet, always on the go. He gives us a view of an individual searching for his place in life. Never a dull moment. At his lowest point with no clear picture of who he is…he considers ending things, but first talks to a local Boston priest who tells him, “pay attention to the little things in life, that is what matters.

I met Steve at Peace Corps where he was briefly a Bush administration political appointee (Schedule C) at the Peace Corps as Regional Director for the Inter-Americas Region (2002-2003.) He had a special appreciation for Latin Americans, this man from Seattle. As a native speaker, he functions in Portuguese, Spanish, and some French. Steve fully understands the cultural differences and challenges of day to day contacts. Learning who Estive is, kept me focused on his book and very interesting life…difficult to put down!

I would recommend On the Edge to recent graduates and folks going into retirement, asking what is next in life. If you are searching, this book can share with you what is really important…the small things in life! Steve’s motto is simple, “live life to the fullest.” Or as the Colombians would say, chevere, awesome! And if you have time, try a Café Cubano and Ropa Vieja…life will never be the same!

Bob Arias (Colombia 1964-66), followed his Volunteer service by becoming Language Director for Camp Radley, Puerto Rico (1966-68), and then APCD (Colombia 1968-73), and Peace Corps CD in Uruguay and Argentina (1993-95). In 2001 he returned to Peace Corps to establish the Office of Safety and Security. Bob retired from Los Angeles County where he was a Compliance Officer,

Bob has served as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer since 2009 in Paraguay, Colombia, and now for a second tour of Panama, 2009 and 2014.  He was recently awarded the John F. Kennedy Service Award from Peace Corps.

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