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Peace Corps Authors Bibliography

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Find books in the Library of Congress Collections by 200 authors who served in the Peace Corps.

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Sack, Terry (Bolivia, 1963-65).

A Peace Corps Memoir: Answering JFK’s Call. Boone, North Carolina: T. Sack, 2010. Library of Congress Permalink: description: “As one of the first Volunteers in the early years of the Peace Corps, author Terry Sack had his work cut out for him-as well as his passions. In A Peace Corps Memoir: Answering JFK’s Call, he reminisces about the organization's early years; surviving a very demanding training program, and then finding his niche in a strange culture as a newly minted Peace Corps Volunteer in a small town in the Amazon basin of Bolivia in the early 1960s. In fifty-two well-considered and thoughtfully penned chapters like “Progress at Last,” “Government Ousted,” “Plane with PC Workers Missing,” and “Trinidad Farewell,” Sack takes an easy-to-read chronological approach. He thoughtfully blends romance and humor to recall the enormity of what it was like to endure selection and training and ultimately become a Peace Corps Volunteer after having witnessed JFK's call to arms in a speech at the University of Michigan in 1961.”

Sadow, Sue (Sierra Leone, 1961–63).

Can do (Said Sue): A Rich Life Helping the Poor: Autobiography. 1st ed. Denver, Colorado: Beaumont Books, 1992. Library of Congress Permalink:

Summary: Sue Sadow’s autobiography discusses philanthropists and volunteer workers in social service. Part of this book is an excerpt from the book of the author’s experiences in Sierra Leone entitled Into Africa with the Peace Corps.

Saltonstall, Katharyn W. (Nigeria, 1963–65).

Small Bridges to One World: A Peace Corps Perspective, Nigeria, 1963–1965. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: P.E. Randall Publisher, 1986. Library of Congress Permalink:

Subject: This is a memoir of an early Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria.

Scanlon, Thomas J. (Chile, 1961–63).

Waiting for the Snow: The Peace Corps Papers of a Charter Volunteer. Forewords by Sargent Shriver and Theodore M. Hesburgh. Chevy Chase, MD: Posterity Press, 1997. Library of Congress Permalink:

Subject: The author recounts his experience serving in Chile as a Peace Corps pioneer.

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy (Brazil, 1964–66).

Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992. Library of Congress Permalink:

Award: RPCV Writers & Readers’ Paul Cowan Nonfiction Award, 1992

Handbook of Latin American Studies annotation: “Focusing on lives of women and children in a northeast favela, luminously written account describes everyday experiences of scarcity, sickness, and death.”

Schneider, Richard C. (Philippines (1969–71, 1974–77).

Living with the Pinatubo Aetas: A Peace Corps Philippines Journal. 1st Peace Corps Writers edition. Oakland, California: Peace Corps Writers, 2014. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “As a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) assigned to the Philippines, Rich Schneider lived in the remote mountain village of Villar from June 1969 through June 1971, and worked with Pinatubo Aetas, an indigenous people, to increase their rice yield. The Aetas lived in permanent dwellings on a government reservation each assigned about 0.6 hectare (1.5 acres) of land suitable for planting rice. They had given up slash-and-burn agriculture, and on this land started traditional rice farming. Rich’s assignment was to assist the Aetas increase their rice yield per hectare from 30 to 80 cavans (1 cavan = 50 kilograms) using the improved rice varieties and enhanced cultivation practices developed at the International Rice Research Institute. Immersed in the Pinatubo Aetas’ culture for two years, Rich had expected to haul water from a spring, sleep in a Nipa hut, read by kerosene lantern, and hike long distances. He learned to eat beetle larvae, sleep under a mosquito net, stay away from insurgent activity, and to speak Tagalog. What he didn’t expect to find was a people who would share what little they had with a tall, well-intentioned Volunteer before taking care of themselves. Living with the Pinatubo Aetas was compiled from notes, letters to his family, discussions with other PCV’s and tape recordings, and tells Rich’s story of his life during his two years in the Philippines. After reading this journal, the reader will better understand the daily life of a PCV, the customs of Filipinos, and, more specifically, the traditions of the Pinatubo Aetas.”

Schulz, Renate A. (Mali, 1963–65, 2011–12).

Life in Alien Territory: Memories of Peace Corps Service in Mali. 1st ed. Tucson, Arizona: Wheatmark, 2015. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “Retired university professor Renate Schulz is looking for something to do with her life, some way to give back. She decides to rejoin the Peace Corps forty-six years after she first served. Life in Alien Territory: Memories of Peace Corps Service in Mali chronicles her eleven months in Mali, West Africa, a predominantly Muslim country. At age seventy-one, she is the oldest Peace Corps volunteer among 180 other Americans. Schulz weaves the highs and lows of her life as a volunteer in Africa into her daily journal entries. Her personal struggles with the challenges of living in third-world conditions, particularly at her age, are woven into her real-life concerns about human rights in West Africa, particularly for women and children. Her time in Mali, with all its challenges and frustrations, are offset with her growing appreciation for this "alien" culture. In this wonderfully readable travel narrative, Schulz captures the spirit of the culture, education, and people of Mali. At the same time, she shows how you are never too old to have a life-changing adventure.”

Schmidt, Monique Maria (Benin, 1998–2000).

Last Moon Dancing: A Memoir of Love and Real Life in Africa. 1st ed. Santa Monica, California: Clover Press, 2005. Library of Congress Permalink:

Subject: Women teachers with the Peace Corps find romance in Benin.

Schwab, Peter (Liberia, 1962–64).

Designing West Africa: Prelude to 21st-Century Calamity. 1st ed. New York: Palgrave, 2004. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “Many African countries are now described as “Fourth World nations,” ones which essentially have no future. How could this have happened? Through the scope of the 1960s, the first decade of African independence, Peter Schwab presents a compelling and provocative answer to this question. Designing West Africa tells the story of a pivotal decade in African history, when the fate of the continent was decided. Focusing on the six most visible leaders of the period—Sékou Touré, Kwame Nkrumah, and others—Schwab shows how Africa served as a ground to play out larger international conflicts, namely the Cold War. He does not fall back solely on blaming non-African involvement for the failure to build a viable leadership for the continent rather, he critiques the African leaders themselves for their individual failings.”

Africa, A Continent Self-Destructs. 1st ed. New York: Palgrave for St. Martin’s Press, 2001. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “Can Africa survive? Many of the nations of sub-Saharan Africa have all but ceased to exist as organized states: tyranny, diseases such as AIDS, civil war and ethnic conflict, and border invasions threaten the complete disintegration of a region. Peter Schwab offers a clear, authoritative portrait of a continent on the brink. Globalization and an accompanying level of economic health have passed over Africa. Added to these factors is a patronizing attitude from the West that change in Africa must take place within Western parameters, a UN that lacks any real power, and a U.S. foreign policy in Africa that is unclear. Looking to South Africa as an example of successful Western support of an African nation, Schwab suggests that the United States should use its leverage to help democrats into positions of power and then work with them under a framework dictated by the leaders themselves. It is only with a distinctly African approach to African problems that the survival of the continent can be assured.”

Shacochis, Bob (Eastern Caribbean, 1975–76).

Easy in the Islands: Stories. New York: Crown Publishers, 1985. Library of Congress Permalink:

Award: Winner of the 1985 National Book Award

Subject: This is a collection of fictional stories about Caribbean social life and customs.

Swimming in the Volcano. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1993. Library of Congress Permalink:

Award: Winner of the RPCV Writers & Readers’ Maria Thomas Fiction Award, 1994

Publisher’s description: “The volcano at the heart of the island of St. Catherine has smoldered as ominously and impotently as its politics for years, but lately things seem to be heating up. Mitchell Wilson, an American expatriate and economist for the Ministry of Agriculture, becomes unwittingly embroiled in an internecine war between rival factions of the government. Into this potentially eruptive scene enters a woman, Johanna, whom Mitchell once loved and lost but who remains an enchanting and powerful temptation—one he will not resist. At once a beguiling love story and a superbly sophisticated political novel about the fruits of imperialism in the twentieth century, Swimming in the Volcano is as brutally seductive a novel as the world it evokes. Triumphantly compassionate, and imbued with Shacochis’s insight into human affairs that “ranks with the best of Conrad and Hemingway,” here is a commanding performance by ‘one of the most talented young writers working in America today.’”

The Immaculate Invasion. New York: Grove Press; [Berkeley, California]: Distributed by Publishers Group West, 2010. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “Widely celebrated upon its original publication in 1999, National Book Award–winning writer Bob Shacochis’s The Immaculate Invasion is a gritty, poetic, and revelatory look at the American intervention in Haiti in 1994. In 1994, the United States embarked on Operation Uphold Democracy, a response to the overthrow of the democratically elected Haitian government by a brutal military coup. Bob Shacochis traveled to Haiti for Harper’s and was embedded—long before the idea became popular in Iraq—with a team of Special Forces commandos for eighteen months and came away with tremendous insight into Haiti, the character of American fighters, and what can happen when an intervention turns into a misadventure. With the eye for detail and narrative skills of a critically acclaimed, award-winning novelist, Shacochis captures the exploits and frustrations, the inner lives, and the heroic deeds of young Americans as they struggle to bring democracy to a country ravaged by tyranny. The Immaculate Invasion is required reading, essential for anyone who wants to understand what has happened in Haiti in the past and what will happen in the future.”


Sharp, Lesley Alexandra (Madagascar, circa mid-1990s).

The Possessed and the Dispossessed: Spirits, Identity, and Power in a Madagascar Migrant Town. Series: Comparative Studies of Health Systems and Medical Care, Comparative, no. 37. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “This finely drawn portrait of a complex, polycultural urban community in Madagascar emphasizes the role of spirit medium healers, a group heretofore seen as having little power. These women, Leslie Sharp argues, are far from powerless among the peasants and migrant laborers who work the land in this plantation economy. In fact, Sharp's wide-ranging analysis shows that tromba, or spirit possession, is central to understanding the complex identities of insiders and outsiders in this community, which draws people from all over the island and abroad. Sharp's study also reveals the contradictions between indigenous healing and Western-derived Protestant healing and psychiatry. Particular attention to the significance of migrant women's and children's experiences in a context of seeking relief from personal and social ills gives Sharp's investigation importance for gender studies as well as for studies in medical anthropology, Africa and Madagascar, the politics of culture, and religion and ritual.”

The Sacrificed Generation: Youth, History, and the Colonized Mind in Madagascar. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “Youth and identity politics figure prominently in this provocative study of personal and collective memory in Madagascar. A deeply nuanced ethnography of historical consciousness, it challenges many cross-cultural investigations of youth, for its key actors are not adults but schoolchildren. Lesley Sharp refutes dominant assumptions that African children are the helpless victims of postcolonial crises, incapable of organized, sustained collective thought or action. She insists instead on the political agency of Malagasy youth who, as they decipher their current predicament, offer potent, historicized critiques of colonial violence, nationalist resistance, foreign mass media, and schoolyard survival. Sharp asserts that autobiography and national history are inextricably linked and therefore must be read in tandem, a process that exposes how political consciousness is forged in the classroom, within the home, and on the street in Madagascar.”

Shea, Christina (Hungary, 1990–92).

Smuggled. 1st ed. New York / Berkeley, California: Black Cat; distributed by Publishers Group West, 2011. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “In the final winter of the Second Word War, five-year-old Éva Farkas is sewn into a flour sack and smuggled across the Hungarian border to Romania. She is renamed Anca and forbidden to speak Hungarian ever again. When the pillars of Communism finally crumble, Anca returns to Hungary to find a home and reclaim the name her mother gave her.”

Sheeley, Ellen R. (Samoa/Western, 1983–85).

Reclaiming Honor in Jordan: A National Public Opinion Survey on ‘Honor’ Killings. 1st ed. Amman: s.n. [Black Iris Publications], 2007. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “In early 2003, Ellen R. Sheeley began to educate herself about “honor” killings, particularly those that take place in Jordan. That summer she journeyed from her home in San Francisco, California, USA, to Amman, Jordan, where she learned of the needs for empirical, objective, baseline data pertaining to the Jordanian public’s attitudes, opinions, and beliefs about “honor” killings and for a sustained marketing campaign to change hearts and minds. As a seasoned marketing professional, she was confident she had the ability and the qualifications to fulfill these needs. Unable to secure funding or sponsorship from the obvious and even the not-so-obvious sources and, yet, unwilling for mere lack of financial support to give up on the needs of the at-risk individuals and the victims, she quit her job, moved from her home, placed her personal effects in storage, bade adieu to her loved ones, and returned to Amman in October 2005 to perform the work pro bono, funded by her private savings. Reclaiming Honor in Jordan is a result of this effort and reveals a number of surprising findings about public opinion on this subject. Profits from this book will contribute to “honor” killings work.”

Sherman, John (Nigeria, 1966–67; Malawi, 1967–68; staff, Peace Corps, Washington, 1970–71, 1975–77; Ghana, 1971–73).

War Stories: A Memoir of Nigeria and Biafra. 1st ed. Indianapolis, Indiana: Mesa Verde Press, 2002. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “War Stories: A Memoir of Nigeria and Biafra by John Sherman tells the story of an American who served with a food/medical team operated by the International Committee of the Red Cross during the civil war in Nigeria in the late 1960s. It contains flashbacks to the time when the author had been a Peace Corps Volunteer in the same area of West Africa (in 1966–67). The book has 16 pages of photographs taken by the author during the war and also includes illustrations of some memorabilia of Nigeria and Biafra collected by the author. Front matter includes a chronology of events for Nigeria and Biafra, 1960–70, and maps of the area, along with a glossary, to provide readers with perspective on the situations described in the book. The book shows Sherman’s evolution from being pro-Biafran (he had attempted to return to Biafra, but was unable to get there, so he joined the Red Cross on the Nigerian side of the civil war) to someone who saw the good and evil on both sides and who quickly understood the futility of all war, particularly the one he became so personally involved in.”

Shriver, Sargent (Peace Corps director, 1961–66).

Point of the Lance. 1st ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1964. Library of Congress Permalink:

Subject: Soon after taking office, President John F. Kennedy appointed Sargent Shriver (November 9, 1915 – January 18, 2011) to head a task force creating the Peace Corps. This is a compilation of speeches by the Peace Corps’ first director, who was the driving force behind its creation.

Shurtleff, Bill (Nigeria, 1963–66).

A Peace Corps Year with Nigerians. Edited and annotated by Hans Brinkmann. Series: Diesterwegs neusprechliche Bibliothek. Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bonn, München: Diesterweg, 1966. Library of Congress Permalink:

Subject: A memoir of the author’s Peace Corps experience in Nigeria, the subject relates to Nigerian social life and customs.

Siddall, Lawrence B. (Poland, 1997–99).

Two Years in Poland and Other Stories: A Sixty-Seven-Year-Old Grandfather Joins the Peace Corps and Looks Back on His Life: A Memoir. 1st ed. Amherst, Massachusetts: Pelham Springs Press, 2008. Library of Congress Permalink: description: “In this absorbing and delightful memoir, Lawrence Brane Siddall takes the reader to Poland where he taught English in a high school as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1997 to 1999 following his retirement. He calls it his late-life adventure. At sixty-seven, he was one of only 450 senior Peace Corps volunteers out of 6,500 worldwide. With an eye for detail, he vividly describes the challenges he faces in the classroom, his struggle to learn Polish, his initial feelings of isolation in adjusting to a new culture, and the close friends he eventually makes. He has since returned to Poland twice to renew friendships, participate in a school reunion, and attend two weddings. Siddall also weaves brief flashbacks into his narrative, including a glimpse of his own high school years and a vignette about the death of his mother in China in 1932. The longest flashback tells of an amazing 11,000-mile overland trek from Europe to India in 1956. Traveling with a friend in a VW Beetle, their route takes them through the Middle East at a time of political instability, making for a risky venture. With the events of that time still reverberating today, Siddall’s keen observations are as relevant now as they were then. His account of working his way back to the U.S on a freighter is a colorful final chapter in his five-month-long odyssey.”

Simons, Craig (China, 1996–98).

The Devouring Dragon: How China’s Rise Threatens Our Natural World. 1st ed. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2013. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher's description: “China’s rise is assaulting the natural world at an alarming rate. In a few short years, China has become the planet’s largest market for endangered wildlife, its top importer of tropical trees, and its biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Its rapid economic growth has driven up the world’s very metabolism: in Brazil, farmers clear large swaths of the Amazon to plant soybeans; Indian poachers hunt tigers and elephants to feed Chinese demand; in the United States, clouds of mercury and ozone drift earthward after trans-Pacific jet-stream journeys. Craig Simons’ The Devouring Dragon looks at how an ascending China has rapidly surpassed the U.S. and Europe as the planet’s worst-polluting superpower. It argues that China’s most important 21st-century legacy will be determined not by jobs, corporate profits, or political alliances, but by how quickly its growth degrades the global environment and whether it can stem the damage. Combining in-depth reporting with wide-ranging interviews and scientific research, The Devouring Dragon shines a spotlight on how China has put our planet’s forests, wildlife, oceans, and climate in jeopardy, multiplying the risks for everyone in our burgeoning, increasingly busy world.”

Skelton, Jr., James W. (Ethiopia, 1970–72).

Volunteering in Ethiopia: A Peace Corps Odyssey. 1st ed. Denver, Colorado: Beaumont Books, 1991. Library of Congress Permalink:

Subject: This book focuses on the experiences of the fourteenth group of Peace Corps volunteers in Ethiopia in the early 1970s.

Slatta, Richard W. (Panama, 1969–70).

Gauchos and the Vanishing Frontier. 1st paperback ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “Although as much romanticized as the American cowboy, the Argentine gaucho lived a persecuted, marginal existence, beleaguered by mandatory passports, vagrancy laws, and forced military service. The story of this nineteenth-century migratory ranch hand is told in vivid detail by Richard W. Slatta, a professor of history at North Carolina State University at Raleigh and the author of Cowboys of the Americas (1990).”

Smith, Daniel Jordan (Sierra Leone, 1984–87).

A Culture of Corruption: Everyday Deception and Popular Discontent in Nigeria. Princeton University Press, 2006. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “E-mails proposing an “urgent business relationship” help make fraud Nigeria’s largest source of foreign revenue after oil. But scams are also a central part of Nigeria’s domestic cultural landscape. Corruption is so widespread in Nigeria that its citizens call it simply “the Nigerian factor.” Willing or unwilling participants in corruption at every turn, Nigerians are deeply ambivalent about it—resigning themselves to it, justifying it, or complaining about it. They are painfully aware of the damage corruption does to their country and see themselves as their own worst enemies, but they have been unable to stop it. A Culture of Corruption is a profound and sympathetic attempt to understand the dilemmas average Nigerians face every day as they try to get ahead—or just survive—in a society riddled with corruption…. It is impossible to comprehend Nigeria today—from vigilantism and resurgent ethnic nationalism to rising Pentecostalism and accusations of witchcraft and cannibalism—without understanding the role played by corruption and popular reactions to it.”

AIDS Doesn't Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria. Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press, 2014. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “AIDS and Africa are indelibly linked in popular consciousness, but despite widespread awareness of the epidemic, much of the story remains hidden beneath a superficial focus on condoms, sex workers, and antiretrovirals. Africa gets lost in this equation, Daniel Jordan Smith argues, transformed into a mere vehicle to explain AIDS, and in AIDS Doesn’t Show Its Face, he offers a powerful reversal, using AIDS as a lens through which to view Africa. Drawing on twenty years of fieldwork in Nigeria, Smith tells a story of dramatic social changes, ones implicated in the same inequalities that also factor into local perceptions about AIDS—inequalities of gender, generation, and social class. Nigerians, he shows, view both social inequality and the presence of AIDS in moral terms, as kinds of ethical failure. Mixing ethnographies that describe everyday life with pointed analyses of public health interventions, he demonstrates just how powerful these paired anxieties—medical and social—are, and how the world might better alleviate them through a more sensitive understanding of their relationship.”

Smith, Ed (Ghana, 1962–64).

Where to, Black Man?. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1967. Library of Congress Permalink:

Subject: This is a memoir of an early African-American Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana.

Smith, Mary-Ann Tirone (Cameroon, 1965–67).

Lament for a Silver-Eyed Woman. 1st ed. New York: William Morrow, 1987. Library of Congress Permalink:

Subject: According to Marnie Mueller, “A must read for any public official dealing with Africa and the Mideast is Mary-Ann Tirone Smith’s novel, “Lament for a Silver Eyed Woman,” if for no other reason than to experience her devastating descriptions of the Shatila refugee camp and the subsequent massacre in the camp. A true cautionary tale.” New York’s Newsday: “Good fiction on a serious subject written with a wonderfully funny voice.” Although it reads like a novel, the book seems more like a nonfictional account of the author’s Peace Corps experience as a librarian in Cameroon and a tourist in Beirut, although names may have been changed.


Sobania, Neal W. (Ethiopia, 1968–72).

Culture and Customs of Kenya. Series: Culture and Customs of Africa. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s summary: “An in-depth survey of the history, culture, and customs of Kenya.”

Sochaczewski, Paul Spencer [formerly Wachtel] (Borneo, 1969–71).

The Sultan and the Mermaid Queen: Surprising Asian People, Places, and Things that Go Bump in the Night. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2008. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s summary: “A collection of stories, essays, and articles that explore the people, places, and legends of Asia.”

Spaulding, Marcy L. (Mali, 2000–02).

Dancing Trees and Crocodile Dreams: My Life in a West African Village: Journals from Two Years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali. Fresno, California: Poppy Lane Publisher, 2004. Library of Congress Permalink:

Summary: The author kept a journal during her Peace Corps service in Mali and based this memoir on it.

Stearman, Allyn MacLean (Bolivia, 1964–67).

Yuquí: Forest Nomads in a Changing World. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1989. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “This book examines the effects of twentieth-century social and cultural changes on the Yuquí, a group of fewer than 100 nomadic foragers who have survived without houses or the ability to produce fire. Recently contacted by missionaries, the Yuquí now face enormous pressures from outside developers and other forces of modernization.”

San Rafael, Camba Town: Life in a Lowland Bolivian Peasant Community. 2nd ed. Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press, 1995. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “San Rafael, Camba Town is an intimate portrayal of the people and events that contribute to the fabric of life in a small, peasant community in Bolivia. In a highly readable style, the author recounts her experiences as a young Peace Corps volunteer working in this isolated community during the 1960s. Stearman begins by describing the patterns of daily activities of the individuals she came to know well as friends and neighbors. She then moves on to a firsthand account of living with the Leon family with whom she shared the challenge of working a small subsistence farm. This unusual and insightful episode provides detailed descriptions of house building, farming, the daily struggle to make ends meet. Stearman also reveals how close personal relationships with the members of this family evolved as they all worked together to develop strategies for survival. The complexities of the deceptively simple life of the peasant are made apparent in this unusual ethnographic experience. A 42-page Retrospective in this edition continues the original story.”

Stewart, Gary (Sierra Leone, 1968–70), and John Amman (Sierra Leone, 1979–82).

Black Man’s Grave: Letters from Sierra Leone. 1st Cold Run ed. Berkeley Springs, West Virginia: Cold Run Books, 2007. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “The memoir and the movie have only scratched the surface. Black Man’s Grave tells what happened to place the boy-turned-soldier in jeopardy and why Sierra Leone’s diamonds acquired their bloody tinge. Meet the greedy politicians who hijacked a fledgling democracy, the rebels who brought them down, and the villagers who struggled to survive the country’s chaotic descent. The cast includes Sierra Leone’s “big man,” Siaka Stevens; RUF [Revolutionary United Front] leader Foday Sankoh, whose grandfatherly demeanor belied the viciousness with which he sought to impose his “revolution”; and one who aspired to the big-man role, Charles Taylor from next-door Liberia. Taylor’s support for Sierra Leone’s rebel war expanded from initial hostility toward Stevens’s handpicked successor into a commercial venture that supplied arms in exchange for diamonds. In an offshoot of that pernicious trade, links between Sierra Leone’s diamonds and al-Qaeda have been traced. The revelations of Black Man’s Grave help us understand the frustrations that simmer throughout much of the third world and threaten a peaceful future.”

Storti, Craig (Morocco, 1970–72).

The Art of Crossing Cultures. 2nd ed. Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press, 2001. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “With over 40,000 copies in print, this book has become a standard guide to the experience of living and working in another country. Whether you’re in business or government, a foreign student or a foreign aid worker, The Art of Crossing Cultures describes what it’s like to encounter another culture, to be thrown by it, and to make the adjustments necessary to succeed and feel at home in an overseas environment. In the book, Craig Storti takes readers through the stages of cultural adjustment—from culture shock to successful adaptation—with numerous anecdotes from the world of business, diplomacy, and foreign aid. The book also features observations on being a foreigner from some of the world’s greatest writers, including Mark Twain, E. M. Forster, D. H Lawrence, and Graham Greene.”

Sumner, Melanie (Senegal, 1988–90).

Polite Society. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995. Library of Congress Permalink:

Award: RPCV Writers & Readers’ Maria Thomas Fiction Award, 1995

Publisher’s description: “Melanie Sumner’s remarkable fiction has received early recognition from The New Yorker, which published two selections from Polite Society. Her work has been anthologized in New Stories from the South and Voices of the Xiled. Polite Society resounds with unusual spirit and searing honesty. Darren, a not-so-nice young woman from Tennessee, joins the Peace Corps for lack of a better idea. Fitting in with Southerners was hard enough, but trying to understand friends, lovers, and herself while unemployed in Senegal sends Darren reeling. The world that spirals around her is full of outrageous encounters, interracial affairs, and nights of drunken revelry. Against the backdrop of a society that is governed by hospitality and good manners but is full of strangers and unfamiliar customs, Darren runs headlong into her own insecurities, fears, and desires.”

Sumser, John (Afghanistan, 1977–78).

A Land Without Time: A Peace Corps Volunteer in Afghanistan. Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers, 2006. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “Since 9/11, the American appetite for information on Afghanistan has surged. The bulk of this information has come from the media, Afghan Scholars or from the Afghans themselves. For the first time, the story of Afghanistan prior to, and during, the communist coup of 1979 is told from the perspective of an American working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan. The story begins with Peace Corps recruitment and training in the United States, then follows a group of young men and women to Afghanistan where they must learn to adapt to exotic food, mysterious customs and primitive hygiene. Then, as they begin to assimilate and feel comfortable in their harsh surroundings, a military coup leads to the arrest of the author, who is accused of being an American spy and beaten in an effort to make him reveal secrets he doesn't have. Eventually, the author is extricated from prison as a new communist regime solidifies its hold on Afghanistan after centuries of Islamic dominance. Thus the chain of events leading to 9/11 is set in motion. Only a handful of foreigners lived in Afghanistan when destabilization began in the late seventies and, of this handful, none has attempted to document the country’s transition from its centuries-old status-quo to a factory for global insurgency. No other book about Afghanistan offers such a humane, sometimes humorous, and significant insight into a culture on the verge of single-handedly launching a new age of terrorism.”

Suziedelis, Saulius Augustinas (Ethiopia, 1967–69).

Historical Dictionary of Lithuania. 2nd ed. Series: European Historical Dictionaries no. 21. Scarecrow Press: Lanham, MD and London, 1999. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “The Lithuanian people have undergone historic changes quite different from those of other European nations. In earlier centuries geography provided strategic advantage and opportunities for expansion but in recent times the country has more often experienced location as a geopolitical curse. After constantly losing territory and shrinking in size, the country disappeared in 1795. However, after World War I a popular national movement led to the restoration of Lithuania as an independent state. World War II and its bloody aftermath brought foreign occupation as well as genocide, mass murder, and destruction unparalleled in the country's modern history. The restoration of independence in 1990 has fundamentally altered Lithuania's geopolitical reality. Integration into the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization promise a new level of security for the Lithuanian state in the 21st century even as the social and economic transformations present both promising opportunities and difficult challenges.”

“The second edition of the Historical Dictionary of Lithuania will serve as a useful introduction to virtually all aspects of Lithuania's historical experience, including the country's relations with its neighbors. This is done through a chronology, an introductory essay, an extensive bibliography, and over 300 cross-referenced dictionary entries on significant persons, places, and events; institutions and organizations; and political, economic, social, cultural, and religious facets.”

Swiller, Josh (Zambia, 1994–96).

The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa. New York: Henry Holt, 2007. Library of Congress Permalink:

Publisher’s description: “A young man’s quest to reconcile his deafness in an unforgiving world leads to a remarkable sojourn in a remote African village that pulsates with beauty and violence. “These are hearing aids. They take the sounds of the world and amplify them.” Josh Swiller recited this speech to himself on the day he arrived in Mununga, a dusty village on the shores of Lake Mweru…Zambia, where Swiller worked as a Peace Corps volunteer for two years. There he would encounter a world where violence, disease, and poverty were the mundane facts of life. But despite the culture shock, Swiller finally commanded attention—everyone always listened carefully to the white man, even if they did not always follow his instruction. …Swiller had finally found, he believed, a place where his deafness did not interfere, a place he could call home. Until, that is, a nightmarish incident blasted away his newfound convictions. At once a poignant account of friendship through adversity, a hilarious comedy of errors, and a gripping narrative of escalating violence, The Unheard is an unforgettable story from a noteworthy new talent.”

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