In 2000 Rye Barcott spent part of his summer living in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. He was a college student heading into the Marines, and he sought to better understand ethnic violence - something he would likely face later in uniform. He learned Swahili, asked questions, and listened to young people talk about how they survived in poverty he had never imagined. Anxious to help but unsure what to do, he stumbled into friendship with a widowed nurse, Tabitha Atieno Festo, and a hardscrabble community organizer, Salim Mohamed. Together, this unlikely trio built a non-governmental organization that would develop a new generation of leaders from within one of Africa's largest slums.
Their organization, Carolina for Kibera (CFK), is now a global pioneer of the movement called Participatory Development, and was honored by Time magazine as a "Hero of Global Health". CFK's greatest lesson may be that with the right kind of support, people in desperate places will take charge of their lives and create breathtaking change.
Engaged in two seemingly contradictory forms of public service at the same time, Barcott continued his leadership in CFK while serving as a human intelligence officer in Iraq, Bosnia, and the Horn of Africa. Struggling with the intense stress of leading Marines in dangerous places, he took the tools he learned building a community in one of the most fractured parts of Kenya and became a more effective counterinsurgent and peacekeeper.
It Happened on the Way to War is a true story of sacrifice and courage and the powerful melding of military and humanitarian service. It's a story of what America's role in the world could be.
©2011 Rye Barcott (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Every American should read this remarkable story by a remarkable man who fought as a Marine in Iraq and waged a battle against poverty, disease and ignorance in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Barcott’s prose evokes the sights and smells of the places he’s been, and the people in this book are not mere names but fully-rounded human beings, with all their virtues and flaws. His tale is cautionary—effecting real change in the world is never easy or cheap, and is often heartbreaking. But it is an equally inspirational story, showing that one individual, acting with courage and commitment, can make a difference." (Philip Caputo, author of A Rumor of War)
"An unforgettable odyssey. We need more of these wonderful affirmative tales of how good can triumph in Africa, as it can anywhere." (Alexander McCall Smith, author of The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency)
"A tremendous story of the power of friendship, love, and the transforming grace of God." (Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate)
If you want a light read about social change this is exactly what your looking for. Its interesting from a societal perspective. But it is riddled with contradictions and it is definitely not a marines path to peace. If you do want to bust your stereotypes about the marines however this is a good book for you.
Very interesting story. Its amazing how someone could lead a NGO and troops while deployed.
I would listen to parts of the book again. It is enjoyable to listen to and frankly motivating
The heartfelt narration.
No, this was the first one
Makes emotional at times. Rye's story is such an example.
I didn't read the print version...
It was authentic, interesting and thought provoking.
Was it read by the author? It sounded like it... had a real air of authenticity.
No, not in one sitting. There were definite "parts" to the audiobook, so it was broken up into different sittings easily. But I couldn't wait to get back to it!
Just a history teacher who loves to read
I particularly liked the swahili used in the story, as well as the bouncing around geographically.
Almost, I read the paragraphs about a women with aids who washed Barcott's pants to my students to help them understand his reaction to good will despite being in a miserable situation.
A great audio book for following along in the class, or listening to on a treadmill.
The overall story was interesting, but I wouldn't say it was captivating.
What I was impressed by was the character of the author.
In the back of my mind I was ready to be skeptical of this young white American who decides to go and help Africans. I know that sounds very cynical and I often am. "He's doing it for his resume!", "He's just wants an adventure", grumbled my thoughts.
But it turns out that the author examines his own motivations, his accomplishments and his demons throughout the story and by the end I was thoroughly impressed, perhaps even awed, by what he managed to accomplish. I don't think he transformed the world or anything, but he has made a real difference in the lives of people in a distant land. He had to be brave in many different ways.
So this cynical man tips his hat and acknowledges a far better man than himself.
Worth a listen for the honesty of the author and the heart-warming relationships that he managed to form with people with very different lives.
One other note - it is narrated by the author and he does a fabulous job!
First, I'd like to congratulate Rye Barcott on both living and telling this story. It's a rare individual who is so "others" focused and intentional in his actions and life choices, especially at such a young age. He's a credit to his parents and the numerous mentors he gathered along the way.
As for narration, Mr. Barcott has the voice of a marine and it's obvious that he's reading a story that he's lived and that he has a deep connection with what is going on. My only criticism of his reading is that he puts in a lot of unnecessary pauses, kind of like William Shatner, best known and loved as Captain Kirk. I learned to live with that quirk.
As for the story itself, there were some real gems of insight into the individuals that he worked with and for, as well as what it means to be a soldier who is prepared to kill but has the ultimate goal of peace and a world without violence. Realistically, this is not a gripping page turner as there were also some portions of the audiobook that dragged. Still, not every good thing in life is continually exciting. It's a worthwhile listen.
This is a true ying and yang story of a young man committed to making a difference in Africa in defeating poverty while also being a gung ho marine full of blood lust and utter patriotism. The emotional struggles of grappling with that dichotomy of at times competing callings and loyalties makes for a soul searching read.
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