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A Breeze in Bulgaria Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews

Review

From peacecorpsworldwide.org:

Theirs was an extraordinary experience, shared masterfully... Intense relationships and cultural discoveries abound in this well told story. Their PCV narrative transcends the predictable.... A Breeze in Bulgaria plumbs the Bulgarian culture, finding its richness and beauty plus a dark corner or two. A lovely bonus of the book is the adoring relationship between Bruce and Stormy: "Sometimes we dance!"

... A Breeze in Bulgaria is a page-turner, navigating twists and turns, capturing characters and challenges. Its style is personal, but engaging.  Not only Peace Corps people will love this book, it's that good.

-- Reviewed by Ken Hill (Turkey 1965-67) Ken later was Country Director in the Russian Far East, Bulgaria & Macedonia. He was Chief of Operations for Europe and Asia, and then Chief of Staff of Peace Corps in 2001.

From books.google.com:

A Breeze in Bulgaria is a compelling memoir and genuine love story at the deepest levels. Beautifully written and heartfelt (with dashes of creative humor in unexpected places), it reminds us that our innate human connections go beyond culture and circumstance.... You will come away with a greater appreciation for life, love, community, and the many joys and wonders that are easy to overlook on a daily basis. 

-- Reviewed by Alexi.

From the Back Cover

Bulgarians say that when God made the world, He made places for all the people, or at least He meant to. The Bulgarians tugged at His sleeve and asked, "Did You forget us?" God actually had overlooked them but did not want to admit it. He gave them a piece of heaven He had been saving for Himself, a piece of heaven to love. He said it had been made for them.
 
Bulgaria. A country with beautiful mountains, fertile fields, dusty roads and old Soviet-era apartment bloks. Ancient ruins, tired cities, intricate music and folk dances. Scattered remnants of the old industry struggle for survival, glimmers of hope among rusty abandoned factories. School hallways ring with the laughter and shrieks of bright-eyed, eager children, and young people go to discos and wear fashionable clothes, drinking coffee in sidewalk cafés for hours.
 
Bruce McDonald and his wife Stormy worked in Bulgaria as Peace Corps Volunteers, and fell in love with it all. They tell of meeting people who loved their country and its proud heritage, people who knew how to live very well with very little. The hardy and resilient way of life came down through the centuries from the warlike Slavs who swept in from the north and east, pushing aside the powerful Thracians and the Romans and the Greeks. Then there was the civilizing influence of literature and learning brought by holy monks. Five hundred years "Under the Turkish Yoke" were ended by Heroes of the Revolution, reverently remembered.
 
In modern times, tumult, change. Entrepreneurs in a newly free society with apples and cabbages for sale at a table by the sidewalk. Democracy too, with whatever that will bring. Determination and hard work define what is needed in everyday life.
 
The volunteers' own story had a turn of events too, one that took determination and hard work to overcome. The heroes of this story are many, and courage is proved in adversity.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2524 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Publisher: BookBrewer Inc. (February 22, 2012)
  • Publication Date: February 22, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007TYL5E0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #769,916 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Bruce McDonald was an Air Force pilot, then an international subcontract negotiator for an aircraft manufacturer. After a fulfilling, though hectic, career in industry he asked the question, "What next?"

The answer, for him and his wife together, was the Peace Corps. As it always does, the Peace Corps enriched their lives beyond measure.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Judi on March 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a MUST read for anyone who wants to know what the Peace Corps experience is like. Bruce blends his descriptions of Bulgarian daily life, teaching school there, love of the children, friendships with the people, participating in the customs of the country, travel, and creating projects to improve everyone's life. It takes special people like Bruce and his wife Stormy to be able to make this kind of a contribution to a country and make it sound like they are the ones benefiting. Actually, the book would be useful to anyone traveling anywhere, because he gives tips on what to expect and how to communicate on a level that gets you what you need to get somewhere, like purchasing tickets. I love Bruce's sense of humor because while being a kind person, he still tells it like it is. Including the frustrating times. At the same time, the sentences themselves are so beautifully written that it wouldn't make much difference to me if the book were about nothing. His vocabulary is so evocative of the scenery and the interactions between people that it is just a pleasure to keep reading. I love the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Babs on April 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was an awesome book! From a historical viewpoint, I had no idea of what had occurred in Bulgaria and it was quite educational to learn of the hardships suffered by the people for such a long period of occupation. The writer did an incredible job of making the reader feel like they were a part of the story through his details of the lives of the writer and his wife and their students and co-workers. Great writing style, a gentle read and a wonderful story. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. It was so nice to be able to share in the adventure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Svetla Dimitrova on March 24, 2015
Format: Paperback
Bruce and Stormy McDonald ’s story of their Peace Corps service in Bulgaria is honest and beautifully written. It will make you laugh and cry and you will think of it long after you have finished reading the book. As a scholar of Bulgaria’s postsocialist transformation my main motivation to read it was that I hoped it will offer an interesting lens into what life in transition looked like from an outsider’s point of view. Indeed, the detailed descriptions of their daily life as retired volunteer couple in Pazardzhik in the early 2000s, who lived in a small apartment in a socialist-style panel block, walked to the public schools where they taught primary and high school students, and used public transportation to do their travelling to a nearby orphanage and other occasional trips in the country has an important historical/documentary value. Further, their encounters with the locals starting with their host family in Panaguirishte, colleagues at Peace Corps and at the schools they worked, their students, neighbors, public officials and others present images of both what Bulgarians and Bulgarian culture as well as Americans and American culture are like, or at least how those differ in the eyes of the author. I plan to use the book in my college classes on postsocialisms, development, and the sociology of culture. But beyond academia, anyone considering a Peace Corps Service or any long-term international volunteer experience will be wise to read the book because it offers a realistic view of both the joys and frustrations of cross-cultural interaction. It is also especially poignant as a story of service interruption due to a serious medical incident that teaches a universal life lesson: that is it not what happens to you that matters but how you respond to it; that if we have the courage to face adversities with love we can live in a love story like Bruce and Stormy's. Thank you for sharing it! I feel inspired!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maria Sutton on March 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
Part of the training Bruce and Stormy McDonald received from the Peace Corps for their new adventure in a foreign country included "observe, evaluate, adapt." Their assignment is to teach English to children in Bulgaria, a former Soviet bloc country emerging from socialism into democracy and free enterprise. The business and educational practices in Bulgaria are quite dissimilar to that of the United States, and Bruce colorfully describes life in Bulgaria and its people with affection and a sprinkling of dry humor for the way business is conducted and the superstitions that have been passed down through the generations in this ancient country. This is a heartwarming memoir that gives readers good insight into the daily lives of Peace Corps volunteers and the people they try to serve. I especially enjoyed Bruce and Stormy's interest in including the unhappily segregated Romas (gypsies) and orphans in their educational and social activities. From the ancient Roman ruins, to the lush green hills, apricot trees, babas, monolithic Soviet-style architecture, and rakiya, I got an insider's view of what it would be like to live in Bulgaria, and the wanderlust in me wanted to hop on a jet and see it for myself, so I could meet the many Bulgarians that became Bruce and Stormy's good friends and see this beautiful country.

The word "adapt," became dramatically meaningful at the conclusion of the story. Without giving the ending away, I will say that I have great respect for these Peace Corps volunteers for sharing their story with us and for admirably meeting the adaptation test with honor and grace.

[...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Torus on December 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
"A Breeze in Bulgaria" is a "virtual tour" into a contemporary Eastern European culture, as seen through the eyes of American Peace Corps volunteers who embrace their assignment with courage, curiosity, and openness. And, it's a "love story" that transcends the label.

Bruce McDonald's quick wit had me laughing out loud at the most unexpected places throughout the book. He has a unique gift for effectively blending humor and poignancy, and proves that maintaining one's sense of humor can carry a person through the most difficult of times.

The adventures of Bruce and his wife Stormy are literally unforgettable. Since I first read portions of the book over a year ago, snippets from it have bubbled up into my mind on numerous occasions.

If you're a person who doubts that "true love" really exists in our world, this book will assure you that it does.
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