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Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle Paperback – May 1, 1990


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Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle + The Insider's Guide to the Peace Corps: What to Know Before You Go
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press (May 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295969288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295969282
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Hilariously funny at times, grimly sad at others and elavened with perceptive insights into the ways of the people and with breathtaking descriptions of the Ecuadorian landscape." -St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Customer Reviews

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See all 27 customer reviews
For the past 30 days I read a little at a time.
Mariana Grohowski
This book, like his others, brings out the curmudgeonly appeal he had for me as a young girl playing in his courtyard.
Blair Schweiger
Down to Earth and very detailed account of this man's experience in Ecuador in the 1960s as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
K. Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
Before going to Peace Corps, I read every Peace Corps related book I could find. Although this book is the oldest of all that I read, it gave me the clearest, most realistic picture of Peace Corps life. Beyond that, it was a story that touched me deeply. Too many Peace Corps stories drown in sentimentalism or self-admiration or cutesy life lessons learned. Living Poor avoids these traps and is a great story, whether or not you are contemplating Peace Corps.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Blair Schweiger on July 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
I was fortunate enough to grow up in Ecuador and was the daughter of a good friend of his. This book, like his others, brings out the curmudgeonly appeal he had for me as a young girl playing in his courtyard. His straightforward dark humor, playing on the subtleties of his life, is present throughout this book. I found this book to reflect the nature of South American Ex-Pats, new and old, bringing that fervent desire to belong and not belong to the adopted culture. To me this is also about trying to make an impact learning and teaching, creating and destroying.
I highly prize this book, and am so saddened that I will never again read another book from this man.
If you are interested in South America, the nature of Ex-patriotism, and living in a culture outside your own, this is one book to have in your library.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
In 1988, my wife and I decided to join the Peace Corps. We were both in our early 40s at the time. When we found we were being sent to Ecuador we madly scoured the library trying to find something about the Peace Corps in Ecuador. We we lucky enough to find Moritz Thomsen's book, "Living Poor." As we devoured the book we both laughed and cried, looked at each other and wondered what we were getting ourselves into. Although every Peace Corps volunteer's experience is different (and our's was totally different from the authors) after our two years in Ecuador this book still rings true This book is brutally honost. Moritz makes no effort to glorify himself or what he accomplished or the Peace Corps. This is part of the charm of the book. We regret that we never met the author but we will always treasure his books.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "aom21" on May 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Thomsen teaches you a great deal about what living in a poor, rural, South American town is like. You can actually feel his sadness, elation and frustration gripping hold of you from the pages. I would recomend this to anyone, even if you are not interested in the Peace Corps. It was an extremely enjoyable read.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By K. Johnson VINE VOICE on June 28, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Down to Earth and very detailed account of this man's experience in Ecuador in the 1960s as a Peace Corps Volunteer. There are many things a person in the Corps can relate to regarding Moritz Thomsen's inner thoughts about his role and responsibilities, environment, and people he dealt with. He gave a lot of honesty in himself and his personal perceptions. I would recommend this book to those considering applying or serving in the Peace Corps. One note, is that the training today is much different than it was in the 1960s. There are numerous books about the Peace Corps experience from RPCVs who served and they also are worth looking into.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Brian Allen VINE VOICE on April 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
Although I was a Peace Corps volunteer I did not read this in preparation of my service (although I wish I had). I was drawn to this book after reading a friend's copy of Moritz's "Farm on the River of Emeralds" which was such an excellent book I wanted to read more of Moritz's writing. I was not disappointed by "Living Poor". As referred to in the subtitle this is a chronicle of Moritz's experience joining the Peace Corps and traveling to Ecuador where he spends most of the next four years working with the people of Rio Verde, a village on the Pacific Coast near Esmeraldas.

I think "Farm on the River of Emeralds" is a better literary work and reflects the development of Moritz as a writer as well as his enriched experience over time in Ecuador. This did not reduce my enjoyment and appreciation of "Living Poor". This is a book that reveals poverty as deeply and as powerfully as Rohinton Mistry's novel on India, "A Fine Balance".

Moritz is an excellent observer of people and writes of their appearance, mannerism, and background with portrait accuracy but also with humor and sensitivity. I remember a description of a woman in the village that was feared by all the families. She was a bruja, a witch that could cast spells and control people with her "brews of secret leaves". Moritz meets and describes her..."She had great square teeth, strong and yellow, and her smile was like some aristocratic but fading French countess right out of Proust. She was in her sixties but her hair was still dark and tied in two teenaged pigtails; they stuck out wildly from out beneath a limp and incredibly well used straw hat, the top of which was broken and hinged.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By jfhardim@facstaff.wisc.edu on September 10, 1997
Format: Paperback
Mr. Thomsen's views of life in the peace corps had me laughing outloud one moment and almost crying the next. His jaded perspective of this institution and the problems with dealing in a third world mentality made me think of pushing my own life's challenges. The characters involved and the Ecuadorean coastal culture are similar to Wouk's "Life is a Carnival" , one of my favorites also. Although I never served in the Peace Corps I have a better feel for the trials and tribulations of the task now that I have read this book
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