Peace Corps in the Media

Books about the Peace Corps

Hundreds of Returned Peace Corps volunteers have written books about their countries of service17 but five books that are among the most notable for capturing the positive and the negative of the Peace Corps experience are the following:

  • Published in 1969, Moritz Thomsen's Living Poor recounts the author's service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador.18 RPCV Paul Theroux said that Living Poor was the best book he ever read on the Peace Corps experience19 and Tom Miller wrote that Thomsen was "one of the great American expatriate writers of the 20th century."18 "And as an expat, he was free to judge us all, an undertaking he finessed with acute observations, self-deprecation, and a flavorful frame of reference that ranged from a Tchaikovsky symphony to a Sealy Posturpedic mattress."18
  • Alan Weiss's 1968 account of Peace Corps training, High Risk, High Gain, has been called "perhaps the most obscure, least known, and most unread" of all the great books written about the Peace Corps experience.20 Trainees in those days were classified by risk and by gain and Weiss discovered in his training days that he had been classified as High Risk/High Gain, a potential "Supervolunteer" or a potential "crash and burn."20 Weiss's book is funny, outrageous and sad but also valuable because it captures the “craziness” of those early years at the Peace Corps.20
  • George Packer's The Village of Waiting (1988) is "one of the most wrenchingly honest books ever written by a white person about Africa, a bracing antidote to romantic authenticity myths and exotic horror stories alike," wrote Matt Steinglass.21 Isak Dinesen, Packer notes, wrote of waking in the Kenyan highlands and thinking, "Here I am, where I ought to be." Packer himself woke up sweating, hungry, "mildly at ease, or mildly anxious. But never where I ought to be."21
  • For a history of the Peace Corps' early days, Coates Redmond's Come as You Are is considered to be one of the finest and most entertaining recountings of the birth of the Peace Corps and how it was literally thrown together in a matter of weeks. Read this book "if you want to know what it felt like to be young and idealistic in the 1960s." 22
  • Tom Bissell served as a Peace Corps volunteer for a few months in Uzbekistan in 1996 before he "early terminated." However, Bissell felt he had really failed the people he joined the Peace Corps to help, so he returned to Uzbekistan in 2001 to write Chasing the Sea about the Aral Sea. However, "the secret, personal point of the journey was revisiting this failure of mine, to try to make something up to the country and people I'd abandoned," says Bissell. "My ambitions were actually pretty modest. I wanted to write a book that everyone who traveled to Central Asia would want to read, and I wanted to write a book that everyone who joins the Peace Corps has pressed upon them," Bissell said. 23

Documentary Films about the Peace Corps

The Peace Corps has been the subject of the following documentary films:

  • Jimi Sir, released in 2007, is a documentary portrait of Peace Corps volunteer James Parks' experiences as a high school science, math and English teacher during the last 10 weeks of his service in Nepal. James speaks Nepali fluently and brings you into a culture where there are no roads, vehicles, electricity, plumbing, telephone or radio. Jimi Sir has been called the best movie ever made about the Peace Corps experience.24
  • The 2006 movie Death of Two Sons, directed by Micah Schaffer juxtaposes the deaths of Amadou Diallo, a Guinean in America who was gunned down by four New York City policemen with 41 bullets and Peace Corps volunteer Jesse Thyne who lived with Amadou's family in Guinea and died in a car crash there. 25The two men never met, but their destinies intertwine in this unique documentary. 26


All links Retrieved May 24, 2008.

  1. ↑ Congressman Crenshaw Honors Local Peace Corps volunteers|accessdate 2005-05-11 2007 United States Congressman Ander Crenshaw.
  2. ↑ The Peace Corps in the Philippines. 1 The Manila Times, 2007-04-21 accessdate 2007-05-12
  3. ↑ Jeff Wilson, 2006. Peace Corps: A Change of Mind and Heart accessdate 2007-05-12 Whitworth College.
  4. New Frontiers for American Youth: Perspective on the Peace Corps. Public Affairs Press, 1961.
  5. ↑ Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy. accessdate 2007-05-11 The Avalon Project 1997. The Avalon Project at Yale Law School.
  6. ↑ Executive Order 10924: Establishment of the Peace Corps. (1961)
  7. ↑ Organization of American Historians
  8. ↑ Peace Corps Girl Stirs Anger In Nigeria by Alleging 'Squalor' 10 New York Times 1961-10-16 accessdate 2006-09-18
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Peace Corps Writers. The infamous Peace Corps postcard. accessdate 2007-05-11 2007
  10. ↑ Postcard to Friend Reporting 'Primitive Living' Leads to Protest by Students. 10 New York Times 1961-10-16 accessdate 2006-09-18
  11. ↑ RIFT ON PEACE CORPS HEALING IN NIGERIA, 7 New York Times 1961-11-07 accessdate 2006-09-18
  12. ↑ Daniel Yee, 2005.Jimmy Carter said his mother's service in the Peace Corps as a nurse when she was 70 years old "was one of the most glorious experiences of her life." accessdate 2007-05-11 Peace Corps Online
  13. ↑ K. Vann, The Chicago Tribune, sect. 5, Sept 28, 2006
  14. ↑ Peace Corps Hotline. "Crisis Corps: Opportunity to serve again" by Melinda Bridges. November 1, 2002
  15. ↑ Peace Corps "Peace Corps Press Release" November 19, 2007
  16. Cite error: Invalidtag; no text was provided for refs namedS9574
  17. ↑ Peace Corps Writers. "915 Peace Corps volunteer writers by country".
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Tucson Weekly. "Under the Skin of a Locale". by Tom Miller. June 16, 2005.
  19. ↑ International Traveler. "The Farm on the River of Emeralds" by Moritz Thomsen reviewed by Brad Newsham.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Peace Corps Writers. "High Risk/High Gain: A Freewheeling Account of Peace Corps Training" by Alan Weiss. Reviewed by John Coyne. May 11, 2005.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Salon. "Destination: Togo" by Matt Steinglass.
  22. ↑ Amazon. "Come As You Are: The Peace Corps Story" by Coates Redmond.
  23. ↑ Random House. "A Conversation with Tom Bissell". Retrieved June 1, 2008.
  24. ↑ "Jimi Sir an American Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal" December 18, 2004.
  25. ↑ Fallen Peace Corps Volunteers. Jesse Thyne.2. Retrieved June 1, 2008.
  26. ↑ "Death of two sons." 3. NICOLE BODE, New York Daily News. Peacecorpsonline. Retrieved June 1, 2008.


  • "A Bibliography of Writings by Returned Peace Corps volunteers by Countries of Service" Peace Corps Writers. Retrieved May 24, 2008.
  • Banerjee, Dillon. 2000. So You Want to Join the Peace Corps: What to Know Before You Go. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, ISBN 9781417726134
  • Jahn, G.C. 1992. Entomology with the Peace Corps in Thailand. American Entomologist 38(1):10-11. ISSN 1046-2821
  • Thomsen, Moritz. Living Poor: a Peace Corps Chronicle. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1990. ISBN 9780295969282

External links

All links retrieved January 31, 2019.

  • Peace Corps website
  • National Peace Corps Association
  • Peace Corps Wiki Collaborative institutional memory
  • The Peace Gallery Over 700 photos by Peace Corps volunteers around the world.