Novelist Coyne (Child of Shadows, Fury, etc.), once a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia, edits a sheaf of lively essays close to his heart. Thirteen former Peace Corps writers, all professionals with published books to their credit, are asked to return to their country of service or another country in which they lived, and write about what is true and lasting, what has changed, and what a traveler really needs to know about the place. Among the countries the writers dig into are Kenya, Peru, Somalia, Japan, Senegal, Mexico, Cameroon, Grenada, Hungary, Tanzania, and Micronesia. Mike Tidwell burrows excitingly into the heart of the Petroecuadorean darkness in search of Randy Borman, a 36-year-old Caucasian born in the jungle to missionary parents, who went native, became chief of a remote tribe of Cofan Indians, and was fighting the oilmen killing the rain forest--in outline, a very Conradesque character. In ``Beauty and the Beach,'' Bob Shacochis, a volunteer to St. Vincent and St. Kitts in the Caribbean, describes what's happened to the islands as moneymen have tried to organize the beaches of paradise. Jeff Taylor's ``School of Exiles'' tells of teaching English in Hungary while nearby Yugoslavia deteriorates and blood flows along the border. In ``Piquing the Spirits,'' Mary-Ann Tiron Smith goes into the Federal Republic of Cameroon and from the rain forest climbs Mount Cameroon with a movie-location scout--looking for a site for a remake of Tarzan--who contracts Dengue fever and has to be stretched out. Immensely diverse, often clever, unfailingly gripping as volunteers reach through barriers of tradition and culture to touch other lives, while a series of epiphanies blows their minds clear as a moonscape.