It Happened On the Way to War: A Marine's Path to Peace

It Happened On the Way to War: A Marine's Path to Peace

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by Rye Barcott
     
 

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In 2000, Rye Barcott was a student on an ROTC scholarship when he first visited the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. He wanted to understand the ethnic violence he expected to face in uniform. Once there, Barcott befriended a widowed nurse and a community organizer, and together they built Carolina for Kibera (CFK), an NGO that breaks cycles of violence and develops

Overview

In 2000, Rye Barcott was a student on an ROTC scholarship when he first visited the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. He wanted to understand the ethnic violence he expected to face in uniform. Once there, Barcott befriended a widowed nurse and a community organizer, and together they built Carolina for Kibera (CFK), an NGO that breaks cycles of violence and develops young leaders in one of Africa's largest slums. Barcott continued his work with CFK while leading Marines in Iraq, Bosnia, and the Horn of Africa. He waged peace while fighting war, and struggled to compartmentalize the experiences and resist darker forces. It Happened on the Way to War is a true story about the powerful melding of military and humanitarian service. It's a story of what America's role in the world could be.

Praise for It Happened on the Way to War:

"Riveting. A beautifully written memoir that reads like a novel and reveals fundamental truths about good, evil, and our common humanity."-Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone

"A tremendous story of the power of friendship, love, and the transforming grace of God." -Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Novel Peace Prize laureate

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

It Happened on the Way to War is part memoir of a life in Rhode Island, North Carolina (Chapel Hill and Camp Lejeune), Africa and Iraq, part acknowledgement of an "incipient bloodlust," part love story, part war and part peace – and wholly engaging and amazing and inspiring.” —Military Times

“Powerful, compelling, and genuine.” —Proceedings Magazine

“Moving, sad, humorous, sometimes dramatic, and beautifully written … [It Happened on the Way to War] is a story about what is possible, and will be inspirational to new generations of leaders and public servants.” —The Officer

“A thoughtful examination of the nature of service and the effects of violence on the human spirit.” —Kirkus Reviews

“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, and many others

“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

“Compelling. Former Marine Captain Rye Barcott demonstrates how our forces must today be capable of fighting and development in this important and revealing story of service on two fronts.” —Brigadier General H.R. McMaster, U.S. Army, author of Dereliction of Duty

“Rye Barcott's engaging and candid memoir on the catalytic power of participatory development shows us that, whether we are in the slums of the world's biggest cities, in rural Haiti, or on college campuses, we can learn from Tabitha, Salim, and Rye--a nurse, a community organizer, and a young Marine living in urban poverty--about how to fight extreme privation and bring about lasting change.” —Dr. Paul Farmer, professor, Harvard Medical School; co-founder, Partners In Health

“Rye Barcott is one of those rare people who can bridge the widest divides with ease. This book is a gift.” —Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away

“A tremendous story of the power of friendship, love, and the transforming grace of God.” —Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

“A must read for anyone interested in leadership. The solutions to our greatest challenges will be found by unlocking the potential of communities like Kibera.” —Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO, Google

“Rye Barcott has captured what I have experienced to be true around the world--that people living in the most unimaginable circumstances can do extraordinary things if given a chance and that we have much to learn from them. Rye's personal story and example encourages, challenges and provides hope.” —Jonathan T.M. Reckford, CEO, Habitat for Humanity International

“Rye Barcott has given us a truly amazing memoir--humane, harrowing, inspiring, and complex in its portrayal of an almost paradoxical accommodation between Eros and Thanatos. This is at least as much a compassionate and emboldening manifesto as it is a work of autobiography.” —Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried

Library Journal
Barcott did something unusual before joining the U.S. Marines; he lived in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, trying to understand the roots of ethnic violence. There, he joined with a widowed nurse and a community organizer to form Carolina for Kibera (CFK), now a leader in the global movement called Participatory Development. And he continued working with CFK even while serving as a marine intelligence officer. Some forward thinking here; I hope this gets the attention it deserves. With a six-city tour.
Kirkus Reviews

Barcott's accomplishments—he's a retired Marine Corps captain and co-founder of a nonprofit organization serving Kenyan youth—provide the background for this debut memoir.

The author's father, a Vietnam veteran who won a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, was a powerful role model for his son, and his mother, an anthropologist, was also important in shaping his worldview. When he was 14, Barcott joined his parents on a trip to Africa, which opened his eyes to the harsh reality of poverty. Five years later, he was studying Swahili at the University of North Carolina on a Marine scholarship in the hope of returning to Africa. At that time, before 9/11 and the launching of the War on Terror, Barcott expected that, as a Marine, he would be involved in humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping missions during his 8-year obligatory service. As it turned out, he was also put on active duty in Iraq. After his junior year, he received a grant to spend the summer in Kenya to research the effect of ethnic conflict on youth living in Africa's largest slum, Kibera. Living there, he shared food and lodging with his new friends. He writes movingly that he had "unique access to remarkable people," who had a strong sense of community and were struggling to survive. Eventually, Barcott decided to partner with two of the people he met there to set up a mentoring program and to establish a community health service. In 2002, the organization became Carolina for Kibera. After graduating from UNC, he became an active-duty Marine. Despite his doubts about the Iraq war, he admits to a fascination with his own destructive impulses in the heat of battle.

A thoughtful examination of the nature of service and the effects of violence on the human spirit.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608194315
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
02/28/2012
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
544,247
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.52(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Rye Barcott founded Carolina for Kibera (CFK) with Salim Mohamed and Tabitha Atieno Festo while he was an undergraduate at UNC Chapel Hill. After graduation, he served as a Marine for five years on active duty. In 2006 ABC World News named then Captain Barcott a Person of the Year for his dual service to Kibera and the Marine Corps. As a Reynolds Social Entrepreneurship Fellow, he earned master's degrees in business and public administration from Harvard. He is currently a member of the World Learning Board of Trustees and a TED Fellow living in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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It Happened on the Way to War: A Marine's Path to Peace 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
zenart More than 1 year ago
"It Happened On the Way to War" is a fascinating book. I really enjoyed it, but more importantly, I learned from it. Rye Barcott shares with the reader his experiences trying to bring aid to the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. His unrelenting dedication to the people of this area leads him to establish an organization called Carolina for Kibera (CFK). He is attending the University of North Carolina and when he visits Kibera he establishes significant relationships with a nurse, Tabitha; a young man named Kash, and a gentleman named Salim. All three of these figures assist him in setting up sports programs for children and a health clinic to provide a better life for the residents of this poverty stricken community. I was so impressed by his dedication to his goal. Not only does Rye learn Swahili, but he gets to know the people of Kibera, living as modestly as they do amidst poor sanitation, HIV/Aids, other illnesses and much violence. While doing all this, Rye continues to pursue his education as well as his goal to be a dedicated Marine. You have to admire a man like Rye Barcott. He never loses sight of his goal and he understands how to focus on achieving it. He hones the art of networking, meeting influential politicians, pursuing fundraising for his organization and is even able to attract some key people in the military to assist him. The work he and his friends accomplish is outstanding and has a ripple effect on others living in poverty in Kibera. For example, he discovers that a group of women have now started an organization to empower themselves. They sell power beads they craft to support services that help other women cope with HIV/aids. The author explains how supportive his parents always are and just how much their ideals encouraged him to pursue his dreams. The key for Rye Barcott seems to be his deep desire to "make a difference", to have an impact on the lives of others. He explains that he always felt he would die young and this motivated him to get things accomplished early on in his life. As he reaches age 30 and he is in fine health, he realizes he will not die young, yet he is still motivated to achieve great things. He serves in the Marine Corps in the intelligence department, attends Harvard University for a Masters Degree, marries his college sweetheart Tracy, and does all this while dedicating any spare time he has to his organization CFK. This book is well written and demonstrates the power of soul to soul connections among people. After reading Rye Barcott's book, one understands that the key to bringing about lasting social change among those who are living in poverty is to reach out with both financial aid and the power of a healing heart. The world needs more people like Rye Barcott to address all its social issues and bring peace and prosperity to those who suffer unecessarily. The best part of this book is expressed in the author's ability to share his innermost thoughts with his reader. Barcott admits when he is frustrated, exhausted, overwhelmed and even disappointed with his friends and the marine corps. Here is an example of his honesty regarding his 6 month tour in Iraq. "My combat experiences were nowhere near as intense, tragic and terrifying as many others'. But they allowed me a glimpse into the abyss and its seductive, slippery force. It didn't take long for me to begin to move down the slope. Within weeks in Fallujah I experienced moments of bloodlust, t
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Karen Izerne More than 1 year ago
Two great forms of service. From all the books i have read this year this one was one of the best.
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rockandrollmama More than 1 year ago
This story is a testament to how things happen.The answer: Disparate groups of humans band together and MAKE them happen, by caring, by creating networks, by recognizing the common good in each other. Rye Barcott, Tabitha, and Salim created such a network in Kibera, and its ripples are felt around this globe. Please read this book- and then please share it.
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Police-Dispatcher More than 1 year ago
A truely captivating and fascinating journey. I recommend everyone read this book as I believe everyone will enjoy it.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a young Marine's extraordinary tale of growing up and coming to a commitment to change the slums of Nairobi. It's a modern-day heroic adventure.