cover image 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

Rye Barcott, Bloomsbury, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-60819-217-5

Barcott, cofounder of the nongovernmental organization Carolina for Kibera (CFK), recounts the demands of serving as a Marine Corps officer while running a nascent nonprofit in this overwrought memoir. In 2000, as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina, the author traveled to Kenya's notorious slum Kibera, in Nairobi, to study ethnic violence. The experience brought his "terribly privileged" background into relief, and Barcott—along with Tabitha Atieno Festo, a nurse, and Salim Mohammed, a community organizer—launched a nonprofit to ferry resources to local leaders in the hopes that they could directly promote development and prevent violence. A year later, with CFK barely launched, Barcott was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer and began an exhausting "balancing act" as he struggled to maintain oversight of CFK while deploying to Bosnia, Djibouti, and Iraq. The author's account of his military service is strained and riddled with inconsistencies: despite his desire "to lead Marines in combat," he angled for an intelligence billet; despite believing the Iraq war was "unjust,"' he volunteered to deploy. Barcott's service to Kibera and his country is laudable, but his memoir promises more insight and candor than it delivers. (Apr.)