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Is it possible that a nation's ability to make peace is more important than its ability to make war? Will we reach a point in the history of humanity when survival depends on the skills of peace making and not war? Is it possible in some far future time we will come to understand that what really mattered in the history of a nation's life was not its ability to make war but its ability to make peace?

We are just starting on this process of learning how to make peace. In war outcomes are seldom predictable and true consequences are known, if ever, only years afterwards. The outcomes of our tentative efforts to make peace seem even less predictable. No nation can match the United States in good intentions. But results are all too often the opposite of what we intended.

This novel is about living and working in West Africa. It is set in the country of Sakra. It is not a sociological tract, nor is it fantasy. The protagonists are fictional but the situations in which they find themselves are similar to those that might be encountered by volunteer teachers in any one of the new nations of West Africa.

The story line revolves about three dominant themes that correspond roughly to the early, middle and latter chapters of the book. The first of these themes is the manner in which outsiders adjust to and develop a sense of their role in a foreign culture.

Alice, a lady of 62, Peace Corps volunteer, and retired from the Washington D.C. public schools; is the focus of the first part of the novel. She is assigned to teach Mathematics at the University-College of Mbordo. Her struggle to adjust, survive, and learn to enjoy living in West Africa is a study in strength and perseverance. Other protagonists are introduced, at first only as incidental to Alice's often traumatic journey from alienation to a level of mutual human acceptance.

In the middle chapters the story line shifts away from Alice's problems to the second major theme of interaction not only between foreigners and Sakraians but also among the ethnic groups of the nation of Sakra itself. The problems of life in Sakra for Africans stand out in stark contrast to the problems that Alice and other expatriates have in adjusting to life in West Africa. Civil strife in Sakra intensifies this contrast. Questions of adjustment become a good deal less significant when survival itself is in question.

The dominant theme of the final chapters is the manner in which events beyond the control of the protagonists lead to personal and public crisis that place them in situations that become tests of character and belief.

Readers Comments

"A gripping must read book for anyone contemplating life in a different culture. A true eye-opener which helps us to examine our own ideas. 'The Last Lorry' takes us for a non-stop ride through another world." -- Joanne Marti, Information Technology Manager

"Engrossing. An engaging adventure and examination of culture, history, and the complexity of personal motivation as seen through the eyes of a fellow Mathematics teacher. A surprising look at where our best intentions can lead us." -- Marjorie M. Barreto, Mathematics Instructor

"In Last Lorry to Mbordo John Kennedy takes us to West Africa in a meeting of two cultures and two worlds. In an intense and entertaining novel the author portrays the work done by dedicated volunteers who try to bridge the gap between different cultures. Full of details, this novel shows the best (and worst) of our people across cultural, ethnic and political worlds. The reader feels transported to the town of Mbordo in the West African nation of Sakra." -- Dr. Norman Maldonado

Often the only time a nation evaluates the education of its armed forces is during the aftermath of a great military disaster. Even in the light of an overwhelming victory, such as the Gulf War, questions about how well military education was addressing the study of asymmetric warfare, the Revolution in Military Affairs, the role of non-state actors and international relations in the new world order were the subject of debate in and around the various staff colleges and military universities in the West. This work brings together the ideas of international scholars, all recognized as leaders in their fields, to examine the professional military education experience of various nations during the last 250 years. Case studies of each branch of the military reveal success and failure in the past and present, with a goal of improving military education in the future.

Underlying themes clearly reveal the need for those questioning military education to utilize history as the preferred method and model of imperial analysis. These include economics and defense spending; national psyches and the proper maintenance of armed forces; and the importance of individuals, both military and civilian, with a clear vision, determination, and the moral courage to formulate and support military education programs. In practice, training often predominates over education, and the result has frequently been an officer corps that has not functioned well in peacetime preparations and has ultimately failed on the battlefield due to an inability to think effectively. This study highlights the role of civilian educators as vital in the creation of successful educational programs.

The spate of books written recently on Christian higher education highlights a common theme -- how numerous colleges founded by church bodies have gradually lost their religious moorings, often culminating in what historian George Marsden calls "established nonbelief." "Can Hope Endure?" examines the history of Hope College in Holland, Michigan, as it has struggled to find a faithful middle way between secularization and withdrawal from mainstream academic and American culture.

Authors James Kennedy and Caroline Simon track Hope College's responses to various social and intellectual challenges through careful analysis of school records, newspaper stories, extant histories, and interviews with faculty members and past presidents. Hope's history reveals that the school is exceptional, having followed the predictable trajectory, yet changing course in some ways. Given this unusual history, the story of why and how Hope College moved toward reestablishing the role of religion in its institutional life yields important lessons for other schools facing the same challenges.

Neither an attack on Hope College nor the kind of celebratory institutional history that so many schools have authorized, this book is instead a thoughtful, instructive study written by two professors who have witnessed firsthand many of Hope's struggles to retain its identity and purpose. The book's narrative is enriched by the "binocular vision" provided by a professional historian and a professional philosopher, and collaboration has afforded Kennedy and Simon the critical distance necessary to ask hard questions about Hope and, by extension, other institutions like it.

"Can Hope Endure?" will be of realinterest not only to readers associated with Hope College but also to those following or participating in the ongoing conversation about Christianity and higher education.

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