Bibliography – Fiction and Poetry

Church, Phillip. (2022).  The Hong Kong Gambit: A Plot to Buy Thailand.  Meadville, PA: Fulton Books.

ISBN-13: 9781639851140

The Hong Kong Gambit tells a fictional story of three Americans on vacation in Asia who find themselves caught up in and forced to thwart a Hong Kong-based Chinese crime syndicate scheme to take control of Thailand’s economy.  The story is based, however, on the very real world of international illicit human trafficking that destroys lives of young girls and threatens the economic stability and progress of countries like Thailand.

Author Philip Church draws on his career as a Foreign Service Officer with the US Agency for International Development.  With a doctorate in economics, he has lived and worked abroad designing, implementing and monitoring technical assistance programs in Central and South America and South and East Asia.  Today he resides in Northern Virginia.

Dow, Katherine (2021) The Brooklyn Dragon Racing Club included in Dragons of a Different Tail: 17 Unusual Dragon Tales, edited by Marx Pyle and others.

Cabbit Crossing Publishing.

The Brooklyn Dragon Racing Club is about a young woman who buys herself a racing dragon and learns the sport of dragon racing from a veteran. The story was Inspired by the local pigeon races the author learned about while living in Brooklyn.

Katherine Dow served from 2008 to 2020 as a USAID democracy, human rights and governance officer in Kenya, Afghanistan, Armenia and Washington, D.C.  She now lives in New York state.

Fell, Arthur Marshall. (2014). Tzimmes (and Don’t Forget the Cheesecake and the Strudel). Portland, OR: BookBaby.


Tzimmes is a humorous story about Dr. Sam Landover, an unpretentious high school mathematics teacher. Grounded in Jewish tradition, Sam gets tangled up in choosing a rabbi for the Shalom Center. As he improvises his way through the confusing jumble, the story becomes a mixed-up stew—like the tasty dessert called tzimmes. FSO Arthur Marshall Fell retired as a minister counselor from the U.S. Agency for International Development in 1990. During a 21-year diplomatic career, he served as an adviser at the African Development Bank in Abidjan, deputy director of USAID in Yaounde and Dakar, and mission director at USAID’s Regional Economic Development Support Office in Nairobi and in Abidjan. He is the co-author of The Club du Sahel: An Experiment in International Co-operation (OECD, 1984) and has written numerous articles about law, economic development and music. Fell lives with his wife, Teri, on the southern coast of France.

Fleming, Hal. (2008). The Brides’ Fair. Frederick, MD: PublishAmerica.

ISBN: 978-1605637068

Among the Ait Hadidou Berbers, deep in the Mid Atlas Mountains of Morocco, there is a traditional three-day exchange or selling of sheep, tea, sugar, mules and men. It’s called “The Bride’s Fair,” because young virgin brides circle suitable mates and choose for themselves. Older, married women can also return to the fair to divorce and select a new husband. In this novel of international intrigue, Americans, mountain Berbers, Moroccan Arabs and a rebel group all converge on the festival. The mystery centers on a possible act of terrorism and contains various subplots, including many efforts to halt the terrorist act, a young bride’s struggle to escape an arranged marriage, American love interests, the efforts of local officials to contain the disaster, and the obstacles faced by the terrorist group bent on disrupting the fair. Disaster is averted at the last minute by a startling revelation. The story unfolds steadily moved along by the author’s authentic insights into both the diplomatic community and Islamic history

Hal Fleming was Peace Corps director in Cote D’Ivoire and later served with USAID in West Africa.

Hacker, Michael J. (2018), Reflections and Remembrances. Book Arts Conservatory

ISBN-13 978-0-9973792-7-3.

The subjects of the poems cover recollections of growing up in the 1940s in Missouri; a boy’s love of the adventure provided by news reports and popular radio programs during the 1940s; the magnetism of the Silver Screen in the 1940s and 1950s; sea service aboard a WWII destroyer in the 1950s; encounters with hurricanes at sea and the tensions of sailing through the Straits of Formosa during the Taiwan Straits Crisis; and finally to service in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta in the late 1960s. This book contains 53 poems, which are divided into 5 parts, titled Family & Friends, Doubt & Conflict, Darkness, Duty, Honor, Country and Memories.

Michael Hacker was born in Springfield, Missouri, in 1938. He served in the U.S. Navy     aboard destroyers in the Seventh Fleet from 1956 to 1959, and later served two years with the Peace Corps in Bolivia from 1962 to 1964. The lion’s share of Hacker’s book details his years with the Navy, the Peace Corps, and USAID. Hacker joined the Foreign Service in 1967 and served two tours each in Vietnam, the Philippines, Ecuador, Panama, and one in Bolivia—25 years after his Peace Corps Service in the same country. A noteworthy comment on this assignment is that Hacker, David Greenlee (the DCM), and the Ambassador, Robert Gelbard, all had served in Bolivia as Peace Corps Volunteers. In addition to his overseas postings, Hacker served one tour in AID/W in the mid-1970s as Special Assistant to the AA/LAC, and another tour fifteen years later detailed to the U.S. Senate and U.S. House as a Congressional Fellow. Hacker retired in 1997 after 30 years of government service. His FSI-certified foreign languages are Spanish and Vietnamese. He and his wife, Patricia, reside in Coconut Grove, Florida.

Kevlihan, Hazel J (2018). Two Lies and a Diamond. Amazon Digital Services.


Aisling is 16 and charismatic, not to mention wise – and humble. But that’s just what other people say. Most importantly, Aisling never loses. Like. Never. The brains behind a five person thieving team known as The Company, she counts as her associates: Nadir, a pickpocket turned con artist; Claire, a shy hacker; Rose, a financial genius; and Cameron, a goofy nerd.  Working out of an empty office building in South Dublin, Aisling steals from the biggest names in Europe, while still managing to ace her exams. But something sinister is lurking on the city streets. as the Company is drawn into a job close to home, Aisling will be forced to gamble her friends, her family and her future on one giant score. Will she finally lose it all??

Hazel Kevlihan is the teenage daughter of Laurel Fain, a USAID Foreign Service Officer currently based in Dar es Salaam. She says that “ I am a total nerd. Obsessed with Marvel, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Star Wars, D.C, the list goes on. However, I also play soccer. I like to bake brownies and attempt to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie (still searching). Sometimes I play the trombone, other times I act in plays. I am interested in a lot of things. Like, a lot. But writing holds a special place in my heart. Through it I can propagate my love of reading and, hopefully, spread some great stories along the way”

Lundgren, John Archer. The Rape of Lucrece. (2017). Screenplay. Independently published.

ISBN-10:1549931105; ISBN-13: 978-1549931109.

This script is a copyrighted cinematographic adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic dramatic poem “The Rape of Lucrece”. The story is a harsh one: the terrifying rape of a chaste and trusting woman – Lucrece – by a faithless acquaintance – Tarquin – a Roman officer of royal rank and fellow soldier with Collatine, the husband of star-crossed Lucrece. We must smart and cry for Lucrece and grieve her ill-conceived post-rape suicide committed from a perspective of shame to preserve her honor. Her fate is that of everywoman abused by an uncontrollable demon. Speech, music and visual art combine to stir the emotions. This script transposes the poetry of Shakespeare to a dramatic setting of elegant cinematographic imagery striking in form and content to stoke the passions of the spectator. The words heard in the screenplay are verbatim those of Shakespeare’s poem; vocalization of which in performance will sublimate meter and rhyme to accommodate dramatic dialogue. The poetry remains in the sentiment of Shakespeare’s oeuvre, as well as in the beauty and flow of his crafted words. NOTA BENE: A principal portion of the cinematographic production requires the rendering of a significant segment of action by means of animation. To wit: cartoon-style animation imbues a large tapestry with life; at times, the toons sharing the screen with live-action Lucrece anguishing her fate, post-rape, whilst gazing upon a large tableau depicting the epic Homeric tale of The Sack of Troy.

John Lundgren was born Trenton, MO, and grew up in Chicago, IL. He met his wife, Leonella Beatrice de Baca-Baros, a Native American of Apache, Navajo, Spanish and Portuguese lineage, when he was living in Delia, New Mexico.  He attended college and ROTC in Pueblo, Colorado,, earned a Doctorate of Letters in Paris, France, and a black belt in Judo in Wambrechies, France.

John served over 30 years in US Army (Reserve) and was assigned in his active duty military career to a phantom intelligence unit in France in the late 1950s, responsible for intelligence gathering duties.  He retired from the Army as a bird Colonel, missing promotion to General because he had not had a major command post being a solo operator for most of his career.

John served over 30 years with USAID with assignments to Ecuador, Guatemala, Senegal, Togo, Chad and Djibouti. One close friend said:  “[John] was an astute, multi-lingual and dedicated Foreign Service Officer with a talent for connecting with Africans at all levels, whether it be the country President or a poor farmer. After retirement from USAID, John succeeded as a theatre and film actor, even performing in commercials.

Ponasik, Diane S. (2006). Tangier, A Novel. Charleston, SC: BookSurge Publishing.

ISBN: 978-1419620867

Set in Tangier, where Jews, Christians and Muslims mingled freely during the late-19th and early-20th centuries, this novel tells the story of Lili, a Moroccan girl raised by the American consul, who is convinced her future lies in becoming a Western woman; Lili’s stepbrother, Ted, an American educated in Moroccan palaces who becomes a respected journalist reporting on Moroccan issues; and Ted’s Jewish wife, Meriam. Under conditions of mounting political unrest and civil war, as a young sultan tries to fend off European powers interested in annexing Morocco and bandits and pretenders threaten his throne, each of the characters faces a crisis of identity and allegiance.

Dr. Diane Ponasik retired from the U.S. Agency for International Development where she worked in many capacities between 1977 and 2002.  She was General Development Officer in Skopje, Macedonia, 1999-2002; Supervisory Democracy Officer, Port au Prince, Haiti, 1997-1999; Chief, Institutional Development Support, Cairo, Egypt 1992-1997 and Chief of the Evaluation Unit for Asia/Near East Bureau in Washington D.C. 1987-1990.  Before that she served in Yemen and Mali.  She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, 1965-1967, B.A. French, College of William and Mary, 1960; M.A. Anthropology, U. of Michigan, 1972; PhD in Economic Anthropology, State University of New York, Binghamton, 1978.  Fluent in Moroccan Arabic and French.  At present she is a docent at the Sackler-Freer Galleries.

Stephenson, Charles W.T. (1993). Development Cantos. Self published.

ISBN 0963890700.

Cantos are sub-divisions of a longer poem. This {book} was not originally intended to be poetic, but just a description of the fact that the development of any country can be compared with the individual growth of an person.

Charles Stephenson was born in 1935 near London, England. He received a B.Sc. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and a J.D. form Yale Law School. After private practice, he spent 30 years as a lawyer in Washington with the U.S. foreign aid program.

Sullivan, M. H. (2008). Trail Magic: Lost In Crawford Notch. Manchester, NH: Romagnoli Publications.

ISBN: 978-1891486098

After losing his wife in the bombing of an American embassy in Africa, Alex Jackson moves his family to the New Hampshire mountains to run a campground in rugged Crawford Notch near the famous Appalachian Trail. He hopes that time and nature will heal them. Then tragedy strikes again when teenager Angie loses track of the little girl she is babysitting. Four-year old Melanie has wandered away and is lost in the surrounding wilderness. The success or failure of the search and rescue operations may determine more than the fate of the little girl; it threatens to destroy the fragile tranquility and hope the Jackson family has managed to rediscover. In a strange twist, Angie finds an odd parallel to a similar missing child search conducted 65 years before — during the fall of 1941 – in the same mountains.

Thomas, Maria. (1987). Antonia Saw the Oryx First. New York, NY: Soho Press.

ISBN: 978-0939149209

(USAID Spouse) “A complex, deeply written and finely wrought double portrait of two women, one black, one white, picking their way through the debris of a shattered colonialism, discovering unexpected treasures buried in the rubble”. Margaret Atwood review.

Maria Thomas was the pen name of Roberta Worrick, a Peace Corps volunteer and spouse of USAID/Ethiopia Deputy Director Thomas Worrick who both died along with congressman Mickey Leland when their plane crashed traveling to a refugee camp during the 1989 Ethiopian drought. The Worricks served in Nigeria, Tanzania, Pakistan and Kenya with USAID prior to Ethiopia.

Thomas, Maria. (1987). Come to Africa and Save your Marriage: And Other Stories. New York, NY: Soho Press.

ISBN: 978-1569470398

(USAID Spouse) “Maria Thomas’ Africa is a paradox of suffering and eerie beauty. Over its red-dust plains, people wander in search of food while tourists consume fish burgers in its cities. At night, black skin seems to disappear; ghosts bicycle on rutted roads. On an empty beach, love is “luscious . . . sweet and juicy,” while virgin reefs shelter deadly things: fire coral, sting rays, poisonous sea snakes. “Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage,” Thomas’ first story collection, focuses on American travelers and expatriates, most of whom blow onto the Continent with all the force of a hurricane. Their subsequent efforts have about as much impact as the brief rains on the relentless African heat.” Susan Heeger review.

Thomas, Maria. (1991). African Visas: A Novella and Stories. New York, NY: Soho Press.

ISBN: 978-1569474488

(USAID Spouse) “Isak Dinesen . . . Rebecca West . . . Gertrude Stein and Edith Wharton. To this company, in the tradition of Hemingway and others, and in many ways as brilliant as the best of them, we must now add Maria Thomas.”—Marianne Wiggins, The New York Times Book Review.

Thurston, Robert.(2014). Devil’s Breath. Self published. Available at

The story takes place in recognizable Latin American settings and brings to life a panoply of characters, some inspiring, some despicable, yet all engaging. But nothing is as it seems. Matt Bolls’ well-intentioned volunteer service in Latin America turns into a nightmare of deceit, rape, murder and international intrigue. His insertion into a remote village and alien culture quickly challenges his naïve notions and assumptions, indeed, his very existence. Matt, aka Gringo Mateo, desperately flees from the many who wish to see him dead, a flight immersing him into a dark world of shadowy figures and events, all in dangerous, violence-plagued locations. Unexpected allies provide him and his agonizing father, a US Congressman, windows of hope. Diamonds, cocaine and smuggled arms are the stock in trade along Matt’s underground trajectory. Anyone who has been a Peace Corps volunteer or staff, development worker, or served in a diplomatic or other overseas agency, will laugh, cry and be riveted by this tale.

Robert Thurston lived and worked in Latin America for over 15 years. During that period, he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Peace Corps Associate Director, US Agency for International Development program manager, and as a development consultant. His assignments took him to remote back-country places where he met and worked with all kinds of people, many commendable but a few of dubious character. Hailing from Oregon, Rob’s ancestors ventured west by wagon train, thus passing along a sense of adventure, a curiosity about new frontiers, and accounts of frontier personalities. The author drew from all of these elements and experiences to weave together the extraordinary twists and turns in Devil’s Breath

Tragen, Irving.. (2023) Manana is Yesterday.

Independently Published.

At 100 years old, retired Foreign Service Officer Irving Tragen embarked on a new challenge: writing his first novelMañana Is Yesterday tells the story of Leona, a woman from a wealthy Salvadorean family whose silence during a critical political meeting will move her country backward, unleashing a series of development errors. The story delves into Leona’s childhood as she searches for a way to confront powerful relatives and fix her mistake.

Irving Tragen worked at the State Department and USAID for 33 years and spent another 14 at the Organization of American States, including nearly a decade as the executive director of the Inter-American Drug Commission. During his career, Tragen worked in all 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries, focusing on development and the fight against drug trafficking. Tragen holds a B.A. and a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. His autobiography, Two Lifetimes as One: Ele and Me and the Foreign Service, was spotlighted in The Foreign Service Journal in October 2019.

Tucker, Jack. (2016). Tales of the Foreign Service: Life on the Edge. CreateSpace.

A compilation of nine short stories based on the author’s experiences during assign- ments with the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, this is an enjoyable read for anyone interested in travel and dramatic tales of love and betrayal.
Set in far-flung locales from El Salvador to the Caucasus and from Washington, D.C., to Saudi Arabia, the stories—though fictional—are based on real characters and experiences the author had during his Foreign Service career. They convey realistically, albeit in a dramatic fashion, many aspects of diplomatic life and work. The short story “Lost in the Caucasus,” for example, is about a forbidden romance between a Muslim and a Christian that ends in heartbreak. In “Wheels of Justice,” the narrator returns to El Salvador, where he was previously stationed, and comes to learn about the notorious past of a socialite over a game of poker. The author’s knowledge of the Foreign Service gives the stories an insider’s perspective, and the tales keepthe reader entertained with vivid language and compelling plot lines.

Jack Tucker is a former State Department Foreign Service officer, USAID contractor and reporting officer for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe who worked and traveled for many years in the Middle East and Central Asia. The author of several books—including Innocents Return Abroad: Exploring Ancient Sites in Western Turkey (2012) and a second volume, Exploring Ancient Sites in Eastern Turkey (2013)—he currently lives in Maryland.

Veret, Barry (2011) Parallel Tracks: Two Landscapes/Two Journeys. Xlibris Corp.

ISBN: 1465352538.

In the late 1960s, two friends, one American, the other African, struggle to make sense of their lives as they traverse a troubled landscape of civil war in Africa and racial and political conflict in America. Their paths cross, separate and ultimately converge, as each deals with events and people which shape their self identities. The stories of their two separate journeys and the impact of their friendship suggests a direction, uncertain, but hopeful for each to find his way.

The author, Barry Veret, grew up in Nebraska and went to college and law school on the east coast. He spent most of his career in the field of international development and has traveled abroad extensively. He served as a lawyer for USAID in Nigeria and later worked with OPIC. Parallel Tracks is a first novel and is set in the era of the tumultuous late 1960s when the author lived and worked in Lagos Nigeria and Washington D.C. Barry Veret is now retired and lives with his wife in Chevy Chase Maryland.

Veret, Barry (2020) Fireflies:  A Story of Three Encounters

ISBN:  9781705372555

Summer of 1954 and a young man’s first trip to Europe.  He has three encounters with people who seem to emerge out of their own pasts, each telling compelling stories of their deeply personal experiences.  One is a Polish expat who fought with the Free Policy Army in World War II; another a US Marine veteran who fought in the winter campaigns of the Korean War; and, finally, a young woman who lived as a child in Vichy France during the German occupation.  Each of these encounters illuminate other worlds to the young man.  But, as he travels on, their stories can only touch him but briefly, like flashes of fireflies out of the night.  And, yet one of those particular encounters remains part of his life, for his involvement with her story has an impact on him that remains.

Wentling, Mark. (2013). Africa’s Embrace. Charleston, SC: Peace Corps Writers.

ISBN: 978-1492712435

This novel beckons the reader to join the lively narrative of David, known by his new African name “Bobovovi,” on a life-altering journey to a land far away from his rural Kansas upbringing. David first travels to West Africa on a Peace Corps mission with the intention of spending a few years achieving his goals before returning to regular life in the United States. Though his plans keep going awry, David (Bobovovi) finds his connection to the continent growing ever stronger, and he is less and less able to let go.

The reader will become enticed by the magic that surrounds Bobovovi, largely inspired by the rich history and mystical customs that are still prevalent in modern-day Africa. His spiritual moonbeam experience causes him to be regarded as a hero, and he finds that his life is becoming ever more intertwined with the culture than he could have imagined. Through all of his relationships and loves, Bobovovi grows and experiences the adventures that make up life.

Wentling, Mark. (2014). Africa’s Release: The Journey Continues. Charleston, SC: Peace Corps Writers.

ISBN: 978-1935925446

The sequel to Africa’s Embrace, this book is the story of J.B., who has been mysteriously transported from a small town in Kansas to an even smaller village in Africa called Atuku. As the townspeople of Kansas scramble to uncover the mystery behind J.B.’s life, they come across some very fascinating and surprising information. Africa’s Release is an intriguing tale of African culture, development and exploration. Despite being a work of fiction, the book offers many practical development ideas. Through his vibrant characters and vivid description of Africa’s lush surroundings, Wentling weaves a captivating tale that leaves you wanting more. Mark Wentling is a retired Foreign Service officer who began his international career with the Peace Corps in 1970. Since then he has been fortunate enough to travel to all 54 African countries, which inspired him to write his “African Trilogy.” This is the second installment, with the last volume, Africa’s Heart, due to release in January 2015. Wentling was born and raised in Kansas, but says he was “made” in Africa. He currently lives and works in Burkina Faso.

Before joining the Foreign Service, Mark Wentling was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras and Togo. During his subsequent career with USAID, he was posted to Niamey, Conakry, Lomé, Mogadishu and Dar es Salaam. After retiring from the Foreign Service, he continued to work in Africa. He was country director in Burkina Faso for Plan International from 2011 to 2013 He worked as a Senior Agriculture Advisor with USAID’s regional West Africa Mission in Accra. Ghana, with USAID’s bilateral mission in Bamako, Mali, with USAID/Angola in Luanda as its interim advisor for its Presidential Malaria Initiative program. In 2019, he worked for a month with USAID/West Africa in Accra and Ouagadougou to revise a cooperative agreement with the West Africa Monetary Union (UEMOA).

Over the past four decades, he has visited all 54 countries on the continent. He recently settled with his family in Lubbock, Texas.

Wentling, Mark. (2015). Africa’s Heart: The Journey Ends in Kansas. Charleston, SC: Peace Corps Writers.

ISBN: 978-1935925552

Fascinated by a mysterious novella, aspiring journalist, Robin Fletcher, is determined to discover more about the man described in the book…a man known only as JB. His quest leads him from the small town of Gemini, Kansas to a small, disadvantaged country in Africa. Thousands of miles from Kansas, in the rural village of Ataku, half-caste chief, Letivi, grapples with his village’s problems. The villagers’ main source of income, subsistence cocoa farming, cannot compete with global competition. Young people are leaving the village, and the village’s only store is under the control of a foreigner. Letivi also has personal problems. Wifeless and childless, his ability to understand the family struggles in his village is being questioned. His supernaturally sensitive mother is dying, a tragedy coinciding with the death of the enormous baobab tree into which Letivi’s father disappeared years ago. As Letivi and the villagers plan the development of a cocoa processing plant, Fletcher traces JB to Ataku, prompting a spontaneous trip to Africa with Molly, a ravishing but erratic woman with family ties to the elusive JB. When Letivi, Molly and Robin meet, events are set in motion that change their lives and Ataku forever.

Wentling, Mark (2017). Dead Cow Road- Life on the Front Lines of an International Crisis. Page Publishing.

ISBN: 978-1-63568-446-6.

Dead Cow Road is a compelling work of historical fiction that focuses on the US response to Somalia’s 1992 famine. US Foreign Service Officer Ray Read reluctantly accepts an assignment not of his liking, but he persists in doing his duty for his country in war-torn Somalia in spite of his contrary views and tortuous personal problems. Through Ray’s eyes, the reader is provided an inside account of the US government’s controversial handling of Somalia’s complex emergency. The daunting challenges of coping with the harsh realities of a ruined country while trying to do good amid dangerous chaos are amply communicated. This book also imparts key facts about the history, people, and places of this troubled region of Africa. Given current interests and issues regarding the United States’ involvement in troubled areas of the world, this book is timely. Although Ray knows virtually nothing about Somalia, he is thrust into Somalia’s intractable problems and obliged to deal with some of its most unsavory actors. He finds some relief from the stress of Somalia and his marital problems by striking up a chance romance with a beautiful Kenyan woman. Ray lays his life on the line more than once, but his sacrifices are not recognized. In the end, he is portrayed as a mere cypher in a larger and rapidly unfolding intense scene of unpredictable international consequences. This well-crafted and gripping story combines exceptional political analysis with lively human drama. It also blends fictional characters with real-life people. The author demonstrates that he is a masterful researcher who has an exhaustive command of Somalia’s grim predicament. He artfully melds the results of his research with his firsthand experiences in Somalia to produce a remarkable book that educates and entertains. His previous three books, an African trilogy, established his high reputation as an authority on Africa. This book solidifies this reputation. The author is one of the rare people on Earth who has visited or worked in all fifty-four African countries.

Wentling, Mark. Blue Country. (2019). Page Publishing.

Unexpected twists and turns keep the reader guessing about what will happen next. Throughout this entertaining novel is weaved a one-way dialogue between a dying prisoner who tells repeatedly his sad story to a hungry jailhouse rat, which only lives to eat. The story moves from the death and destruction of one town to the amazing rebuilding of a new town by survivors who lived to tell the tale. The human foibles of many of the book’s characters are displayed.
Miracles make possible survival, love, and marriage, but evil lurks beneath the surface, and unforeseeable events determine the future of a people and their country. Heroes live and die by the hand of hidden forces beyond their control. The eyes of an innocent young man, offspring of a saintly mother who died giving birth to him, are opened to social injustices caused by an elitist power structure. The ambitions and interests of a few are pursued to the detriment of the majority. Fortunes are decided by a violent border dispute and a heated soccer match that leads to a brief war between two countries.

The story begins with hopes created by salvation found in the protection of an old church and ends uncannily in the same church, where a handful of assorted protagonists find they have been given a new lease on life. Yet the question is left open as to which forces will ultimately rule: good or evil? No mention is made of the sacrifices necessary for good to triumph over evil. Will people be willing to work long and hard enough for the good of their country, or will they be guided by their own selfish interests and incapacity to understand what is really at stake? These questions and others are left to the reader to answer.

Other questions remain unanswered. Will unscrupulous leaders succeed in manipulating people to support them? Is divine intervention for the good of the people possible? How many chances will good people be given to make the wrongs of society right? Will unanticipated events continue to govern the course taken by a people and their country? Which way will the wheel of time turn, and who will benefit? Nobody masters completely with certainty their destiny. Fate will be what it will be.

See Mark Wentling’s bio information above.

Wentling, Mark. 2022. Kansas Kaleidoscope: A Coming of Age Novel. Wild Lark Books.

ISBN-13 978-1957864297.5.

11-year old Marky is a typical kid in 1950s Kansas until his parents divorce and he and his brothers are stranded at a foster farm. But an indelible figure from his past makes a surprise return and offers him a momentous choice. This coming of age novel offers a stirring portrait of an individual, a place and an era.

This is Mark Wentling’s 8th book. He now resides in Lubbock, Texas and continues to do international consulting –presently in Cambodia.

Yates, Alexander. (2011). Moondogs. New York, NY: Doubleday.

ISBN: 978-0307739810

(USAID spouse) A singularly effervescent novel pivoting around the disappearance of an American businessman in the Philippines and the long-suffering son, jilted lover, slick police commissioner, misguided villain, and supernatural saviors who all want a piece of him. Mourning the recent loss of his mother, twentysome­thing Benicio—aka Benny—travels to Manila to reconnect with his estranged father, Howard. But when he arrives his father is nowhere to be found—leaving an irritated son to conclude that Howard has let him down for the umpteenth time. However, his father has actually been kidnapped by a meth-addled cabdriver, with grand plans to sell him to local terrorists as bait in the country’s never-ending power struggle between insurgents, separatists, and “democratic” muscle. With blistering forward momentum, crackling dialogue, wonderfully bizarre turns, and glimpses into both Filipino and expat culture, the novel marches toward a stunning climax, which ultimately challenges our conventional ideas of family and identity and introduces Yates as a powerful new voice in contemporary literature.

Alex Yates was born in Haiti, and grew up in Mexico, Bolivia and the Philippines. After a few years working as a contractor for the US State Department, he decided to quit and pursue writing full time. He has an MFA in Creative Writing  from Syracuse University, where he won Joyce Carol Oates awards in both fiction and poetry. His fiction has been published in Salon, Recommended Reading, The Kenyon Review and American Fiction. Short work has also appeared or is forthcoming in anthologies from This Land and Gigantic. His second novel (and his first for young readers) The Winter Place will be published by Atheneum in 2015. Alex lives in Rwanda with his USAID officer wife and cats, where he’s hard at work on a third novel.

Young, Gordon. (2011). The Wind Will Yet Sing. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corporation.

ISBN: 978-1456819415

The Wind Will Yet Sing is a fictionalized account of the Ku-lao Lahu tribe who inhabit the remote mountain jungles of northern Thailand. The year is 1932, and the tribe’s peaceful life has been shattered. Their existence threatened by outside aggressors, the tribe is forced to defend itself and its ancestral traditions. The story is based on true events in the lives of these mysterious people, virtually untouched by modernity. The people and their beliefs, conversation, humor, reasoning and way of life are all portrayed authentically by Gordon Young, the son of missionary parents who lived in the China-Burma border region. Young brings the images and sounds of the mountain landscape alive, as well. This is a beautifully written story about a secluded, artful and intelligent people, who constantly migrate through the mountains to preserve their faith, ancestral heritage, hunting techniques and morals—and, above all, their “peace and freedom.”