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Letters from Nigeria
A young American observes a newly independent country 1961–62
Gretel Clark




Peter E. Randall Publisher
2016 • 280 pp. 184 color illus. 8 1/2 x 11"
Memoir


$34.95 Hardcover, 978-1-942155-13-3



“This book should be must reading for those of us who shared in the excitement of trying to facilitate development in the newly-independent countries... [continued in Reviews below]”—John R. Harris, Professor of Economics and former Director of the African Studies Center at Boston University,

Impressions and images of a young American couple going to live and work for the government with economist Wolfgang Stolper in West Africa sixty years ago

A young American joins her husband on a pre–Peace Corps mission to newly independent Nigeria: she to work in the Ministry of Education, while he joins a team of economists sent by the Ford Foundation. Gretel’s letters home give an inside view of the fledgling government. Full-color slides bring alive the vibrant cultures of the new nation.

Life among British civil servants, visiting foreign diplomats and speculators, and daily interactions with the Nigerian people are the heart of this story. Included in Clark’s anthropological musings, and economic development theories, is the birth of her first child in a West African government hospital.

Reviews / Endorsements

“This book should be must reading for those of us who shared in the excitement of trying to facilitate development in the newly-independent countries in those heady days. It should also be must reading for the next generation of young people who want to be involved and make a difference in the developing world. The frequently frustrating conflict between aspirations and hopes and reality are laid bare, yet an underlying optimism and belief that progress has been made persists.
I couldn’t put the book down until the very last paragraph.”—John R. Harris, Professor of Economics and former Director of the African Studies Center at Boston University


Letters from Nigeria is a delight. Nigeria, brash and proud, was brand-new in 1961. So were Gretel and Peter Clark, engaged as wide-eyed expatriates in novel, unpredictable, immersive explorations of their host nation and themselves. These infectiously charming letters home provide an unexpectedly telling, immediate, commentary on Africa’s largest country before it lapsed into cynicism, corruption, and civil war. Clark writes of a Lagos, which will never be recaptured.”—Robert I. Rotberg, Harvard Kennedy School, author of Africa Emerges

“Informative, extraordinary, insightful, compelling, Letters from Nigeria is impressively well written and illustrated from beginning to end, making it very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library American Biography collections in general, and Nigerian History supplemental studies reading lists in particular.”—Margaret Lane, Midwest Book Review

“Today Gretel Clark has a BA from Vassar College, an MA from University of Michigan, and CAS from Harvard University. She has taught on four continents, raised four children, and is currently a beekeeper in Hamilton, Massachusetts. Back when she was a young American joining her husband on a pre - Peace Corps mission to newly independent Nigeria, Gretel worked in the Ministry of Education, while her husband joined a team of economists sent by the Ford Foundation, Gretel wrote a series of letters home from 1961 to 1962 that provide a uniquely inside view of the fledgling Nigerian government. It is that correspondence that now comprises Letters from Nigeria, enhanced with a profusion of full-color photographs that bring alive the vibrant cultures of the then new African nation. Letters from Nigeria touches upon life among British civil servants, visiting foreign diplomats and speculators, and at the heart of it all, her daily interactions with the Nigerian people. Included Letters from Nigeria are Gretel’s anthropological musings, economic development theories, and the birth of her first child in a West African government hospital.

Informative, extraordinary, insightful, compelling, ‘Letters from Nigeria’ is impressively well written and illustrated from beginning to end, making it very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library American Biography collections in general, and Nigerian History supplemental studies reading lists in particular.”—Margaret Lane, Midwest Book Review



GRETEL CLARK has a BA from Vassar College, an MA from University of Michigan, and CAS from Harvard University. She has taught on four continents, raised four children, and is currently a beekeeper in Hamilton, Massachusetts.



Sat, 15 Apr 2017 17:07:19 -0500