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When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years

When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A complete and revealing history of the Peace Corps—in time for its fiftieth anniversary

 

On October 14, 1960, at an impromptu speech at the University of Michigan, John F. Kennedy presented an idea to a crowd of restless students for an organization that would rally American youth in service. Though the speech lasted barely three minutes, his germ of an idea morphed dramatically into Kennedy’s most enduring legacy — the Peace Corps. From this offhand campaign remark, shaped speedily by President Kennedy’s brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, in 1961, the organization ascended with remarkable excitement and publicity, attracting the attention of thousands of hopeful young Americans.

 

Not an institutional history, When the World Calls is the first complete and balanced look at the Peace Corps’s first fifty years. Revelatory and candid, Stanley Meisler’s engaging narrative exposes Washington infighting, presidential influence, and the Volunteers’ unique struggles abroad. Meisler deftly unpacks the complicated history with sharp analysis and memorable anecdotes, taking readers on a global trek starting with the historic first contingent of Volunteers to Ghana on August 30, 1961.

 

The Peace Corps has served as an American emblem for world peace and friendship, yet few realize that it has sometimes tilted its agenda to meet the demands of the White House. Tracing its history through the past nine presidential administrations, Meisler discloses, for instance, how Lyndon Johnson became furious when Volunteers opposed his invasion of the Dominican Republic; he reveals how Richard Nixon literally tried to destroy the Peace Corps, and how Ronald Reagan endeavored to make it an instrument of foreign policy in Central America. But somehow the ethos of the Peace Corps endured, largely due to the perseverance of the 200,000 Volunteers themselves, whose shared commitment to effect positive global change has been a constant in one of our most complex—and valued—institutions.

Synopsis:

A complete and revealing history of the Peace Corps—in time for its fiftieth anniversary

 

Since its inauguration, the Peace Corps has been an American emblem for world peace and friendship. Across the nation, there are 200,000 former volunteers, with alumni including members of Congress and ambassadors, novelists and university presidents, television commentators and journalists. Yet few Americans realize that through the past nine presidential administrations, the Peace Corps has sometimes tilted its agenda to meet the demands of the White House. Stanley Meisler discloses, for instance, how Lyndon Johnson became furious when volunteers opposed his invasion of the Dominican Republic; he reveals how Richard Nixon literally tried to destroy the Peace Corps, and he shows how Ronald Reagan endeavored to make it an instrument of foreign policy in Central America. But somehow the ethos of the Peace Corps endured.

In the early years, Meisler was deputy director of the Peace Corps’ Office of Evaluation and Research—and his unswerving commitment to write an unauthorized and balanced history results in a nuanced portrait of one of our most valued, and complex, institutions.

About the Author

Stanley Meisler, the author of two other books, was a foreign and diplomatic correspondent for the Los Angeles Times for three decades. He was also deputy director of the Peace Corps’s Office of Evaluation and Research in the mid-1960s. Meisler, who lives in Washington, D.C., has written for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Atlantic, the Nation, and Smithsonian, and periodically posts news commentaries on his Web site.

 

Table of Contents

Introduction

1 The Challenge from JFK

2 Sarge’s Peace Corps

3 The Pioneer Volunteers and the Postcard

4 The Battle of Britain

5 Friday, November 22, 1963

6 U.S. Troops Invade the Dominican Republic

7 Johnny Hood

8 The Specter of Vietnam

9 The Wrath of Richard Nixon

10 The Fall of the Lion of Judah

11 The Militant Sam Brown

12 Mayhem and Illness

13 The Rich Lady in Her First Job for Pay

14 200,000 Stories

15 A New Name and a New World

16 The Expansive Mood of the Clinton Years

17 The Quiet Bush Years

18 Diplomatic Troubles

19 Obama and the Future

Afterword Does the Peace Corps Do Any Good?

Acknowledgments

Appendix

A Note on Sources

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780807050491
Publisher:
Beacon Press (MA)
Subject:
General
Author:
Meisler, Stanley
Author:
Meiser, Stanley
Subject:
General History
Subject:
Economic assistance, American
Subject:
United States Foreign relations.
Subject:
Public Policy - Social Services & Welfare
Subject:
Volunteer Work
Subject:
Sociology - General
Publication Date:
20110231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9.3 x 6.28 x .98 in 1.24 lb

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Activism and Peace Studies
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General

When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years
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Product details 288 pages Beacon Press - English 9780807050491 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , A complete and revealing history of the Peace Corps—in time for its fiftieth anniversary

 

Since its inauguration, the Peace Corps has been an American emblem for world peace and friendship. Across the nation, there are 200,000 former volunteers, with alumni including members of Congress and ambassadors, novelists and university presidents, television commentators and journalists. Yet few Americans realize that through the past nine presidential administrations, the Peace Corps has sometimes tilted its agenda to meet the demands of the White House. Stanley Meisler discloses, for instance, how Lyndon Johnson became furious when volunteers opposed his invasion of the Dominican Republic; he reveals how Richard Nixon literally tried to destroy the Peace Corps, and he shows how Ronald Reagan endeavored to make it an instrument of foreign policy in Central America. But somehow the ethos of the Peace Corps endured.

In the early years, Meisler was deputy director of the Peace Corps’ Office of Evaluation and Research—and his unswerving commitment to write an unauthorized and balanced history results in a nuanced portrait of one of our most valued, and complex, institutions.

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