Meisler, Stanley: When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years (2011)
Discussion: Tuesday, June 9, 2015, 6:30-8:00 pm. Location at the home of Lesly Sanocki, 2090 NW Overton Ct in Beaverton, 503-690-3391. Participating in our discussion–via Skype–will be Stanley Meisler, the book’s author! Feel free to bring snacks to share.
Review: © Booklist: Few government programs enjoy the reputation of the Peace Corps, a political afterthought by President Kennedy that became one of the more enduring legacies of his administration. Succeeding administrations have had testy relations with the Peace Corps. Johnson railed against volunteers’ opposition to his invasion of the Dominican Republic, and Reagan tried to use the program to advance his agenda in Central America. Since its 1961 inception, the Peace Corps has had to manage its mission to advance peace and provide development assistance, from teaching to building wells, against political onslaughts within the U.S. and host nations even as it managed its image as symbol of American idealism rather than tool of the CIA. Meisler, a deputy director during its early years, offers informed perspective from the turbulent years of the Vietnam War, when many volunteers were conflicted about their government, to the future direction of the Peace Corps. Drawing on his experience and interviews with former volunteers, he presents the fascinating characters, locales, and political background noise from a near-universally admired program’s 50-year history.