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When the World Calls: The inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Yearsby Stanley Meisler
Synopses & Reviews
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 Universityof 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 morpheddramatically 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, theorganization ascended with remarkable excitement and publicity, attracting the attention of thousands of hopeful young Americans.
Not an institutional history, When the WorldCalls 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, presidentialinfluence, 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 firstcontingent 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 agendato 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 theDominican 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 thePeace 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--andvalued--institutions.
From the Hardcover edition.
Presents a history of the Peace Corp and exposes Washington infighting, presidential influence, and the struggles volunteers faced abroad.
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 has written for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Atlantic, the Nation, and Smithsonian, and lives in Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents
The challenge from JFK — Sarge's Peace Corps — The pioneer volunteers and the postcard — The battle of Britain — Friday, November 22, 1963 — U. S. troops invade the Dominican Republic — Johnny Hood — The specter of Vietnam — The wrath of Richard Nixon — The fall of the Lion of Judah — The militant Sam Brown — Mayhem and illness — The rich lady in her first job for pay — 200,000 stories — A new name and a new world — The expansive mood of the Clinton years — The quiet Bush years — Diplomatic troubles — Obama and the future — Does the Peace Corps do any good?
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