Peace Corps Writers 1/04

    THE LONG AWAITED BOOK about Sargent Shriver is coming out this May from Smithsonian Books. The title — Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver was written by Scott Stossel and is 700 pages long. Much of the book focuses, naturally, on the establishment of the Peace Corps. The book also, of course, covers his launching of the War on Poverty, creating Head Start and Legal Services, and starting the Special Olympics, as well as his time in France as our ambassador.
         The book is terrific, and I have read (naturally) the section on the Peace Corps. While much of what Scott Stossel, the author, has to say about the start of the Peace Corps is not new (for those of us who were there, or have closely followed the development of the agency), Stossel has pulled it all together into a tight, well written narrative.
         Most interesting to JFK fans is the detailing of Sarge’s significant role in the Kennedy White House in the aftermath of the assassination.
         Those of us who admire Sarge will come away (once again) with the impression that if one door instead of another had opened (especially when he was in Chicago and there was a movement to run him for governor), he might well have had even a larger role in American political life. But then he would not have been the first director of the Peace Corps.
         Scott Stossel, the author, is a senior editor at Atlantic Monthly. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic and other publications.

    Writing course offered by Peace Corps Writers
    Over two dozen RPCVs have contacted us about the new writing course that we are preparing to present, and eight writers working on their Peace Corps books have been selected for the first class, beginning in March. The on-line course will be for ten weeks.
         If there is continued interest, we will present the class again, starting in May. Anyone interested and would like to know more about the course should email me at:

    NPCA Conference in Chicago
    Peace Corps Writers will hold a series of workshops at the National Peace Corps Association Conference hosted by the Chicago Area Peace Corps Association (CAPCA). The dates of the conference are August 5–8, 2004.
         Workshops titles are:

    • Publishing Your Peace Corps Story (Fiction or Non-Fiction)
    • Careers in Publishing
    • Peace Corps Prose: Literature from the Peace Corps
    • Self-publishing with the new technology

    If you are attending the conference, and wish to be considered for participation in one of these workshop panels, please email me at:
         Peace Corps Writers will also have a table at the International Bazaar, and any writer who would like to sell and sign books at out table is welcome to do so. We will NOT do the selling for anyone. If you would like to avail yourself of this opportunity, please contact Marian Haley Beil at
         In all probability, there will be a bookstore at the conference that will handle books by Peace Corps writers from the larger publishing houses, however we have not heard any specifics on this so far.

    Peace Corps Writers awards
    Do you have a favorite book written by a Peace Corps writer that was published during 2003? Nominations are now being accepted by Peace Corps Writers for its awards for best books of the year written by PCVs, RPCVs, and Peace Corps staff. Please recommend your candidates for the following categories:

    • Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award
    • Maria Thomas Fiction Award
    • The Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award (for best short description of the Peace Corps experience)
    • Award for Best Poetry Book
    • Award for Best Travel Writing
    • Award for Best Children’s Writing

    Send in your nominations to:

    New at this site
    With this issue, we have added a new feature to our ever-growing list of resources for readers — “Tell Me about the World”: Children’s books about Peace Corps Countries by Peace Corps Writers. These books for children are listed by country, and the recommended age group is shown for each.

    In This Issue
    We have been receiving some wonderful essays for “A Writer Writes” and in this issue, we publish two. “The Things I Gave Her” by Lisa Kahn Schnell (Ghana 1998–00) recalls her complex relationship with a village woman in Ghana. Ethan Gologor (Somalia 1962–64) looks back at his group of RPCVs — the first PCVs to Somalia — and wonders what has become of them and the country they left behind in an essay entitled, “From Peace Corps to Warlords.”
         In this issue five new books by RPCVs are reviewed. We also interviewed Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978–80) about his fourth book, A Handful of Kings, that Simon & Schuster publishes this month. There is a “Letter Home” from Hilary Heuler (Guinea 2001–03) who is just home herself. Our own Andy Trincia (Romania 2002–04) sent us a “Travel Right” idea as well as his letter about his Peace Corps service in Romania. And “Literary Type” has fourteen items about Peace Corps writers here, there, and everywhere good writing is found and appreciated.
         So, as my young son might put it, “get down” with this issue.

    — John Coyne