A surprisingly readable, informative and interesting chronicle of the founding of the volunteer work corps. Aside from some...

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THE BOLD EXPERIMENT: JFK's Peace Corps

A surprisingly readable, informative and interesting chronicle of the founding of the volunteer work corps. Aside from some genuflecting and politicized epithets (describing a law professor as brilliant merely because he attended Notre Dame, or the supposed historical revelations by 16th, century American Indians that Franciscan friars and missionaries were praised and admired for their gentle intercourse among the natives), Rice has compiled a cogent and well-documented history which provides insight and perspective. Rice shows us that it was not just John Kennedy's idealism that inspired the birth of the corps or even his idea to begin with (Hubert Humphrey first used the phrase publicly in the spring of 1960). Rather is was then-Senator Kennedy's opportunism and strategy as a politician to exploit a new issue in the last weeks of a presidential election that directly led to the Peace Corps inception. It was not JFK who was the real liberal and champion of the masses either, but Sargent Shriver, his brother-in-law and the ""Kennedy family communist"" who gave the organization its real form and direction. This is a rendering of the Peace Corps' early triumphs and failures. Its dealing with Congress, the A.I.D. and the C.I.A., and its inability to enlist minorities into its ranks. Here are stories of the volunteers--their inadequacies and goals, what they aspired to and how they were selected for the program. These were the legions of the young and naive, ""propounding Americanism rather than religious faith"" to combat the worldwide image of the swaggering ""ugly American."" All in all, relevant and edifying reading on the 25th anniversary of the Peace Corps and its bold experiment.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1985

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Univ. of Notre Dame Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1985