WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY by Karen Schwarz

WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY

An Oral History of the Peace Corps

KIRKUS REVIEW

 To mark the Peace Corps's 30th anniversary, Penthouse editor Schwarz presents a thorough history of the agency through interviews with former volunteers and staff directors. Schwarz accompanies her volunteers' testimonies with behind- the-scenes reporting on how the policies of each new President affected the agency. The Kennedy Administration launched the Peace Corps by sending out more volunteers than could be placed, with the idea that a massive campaign would be less likely to be dismantled. Nixon answered the growing radicalism of returned volunteers--some of whom took over the agency's national offices in May 1970--by reducing the agency's budget and assigning a new oversight organization that replaced the Peace Corps's own name in the phone book. Schwarz also shows the positive side of Nixon's efforts to change the agency from what one volunteer termed ``an extension of junior year abroad'' into one that attracted older, skilled professionals. Schwarz's well-placed criticism does not lead her to dismiss the Peace Corps--she simply accepts the adage of former volunteer Becky Raymond, who served in Niger from 1978 to 1981 and who says, ``You learn to accept small successes.'' Schwarz ends with her own recommendations to improve the Peace Corps's international standing by increasing the volunteers' contact with other volunteer programs in their host country, increasing the standards for volunteers' language and technical skills, and reestablishing the ``reverse Peace Corps'' that invited foreign professionals to live and work in the US. A well-researched history punctuated with quotes that reflect the warmth, anger, and, sometimes, apathy of Americans living in the Third World. A must read for prospective Peace Corps volunteers. (Thirty-two b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: June 17th, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-07559-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991