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By Joel D. Waters (Jdwaters) on Friday, June 08, 2001 - 8:28 pm: Edit Post

BOOK REVIEW: by Joel D. Waters, Lithuania 93-95

Title: In Search of the Elusive Peace Corps Moment ~ Destination: Estonia
Author: Douglas Wells

“In my best Estonian, I introduced myself as an American Peace Corps Volunteer and asked if I could say something. The reaction I received reminded me of something out of Planet of the Apes when the captive and supposedly mute Charleton Heston speaks to the simians for the first time. People just stared with their mouths open while I took advantage of the stunned silence and launched into my speech.”

This is the humor of Douglas Wells, a very talented writer who’s new anthology In Search of the Elusive Peace Corps Moment ~ Destination: Estonia offers a collection of short stories that every RPCV can relate to while portraying of his own experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the former Soviet Republic of Estonia.

As this journal unfolds, Wells recalls his impressions of Hiiumaa, a small and remote island populated by a group of insular people known as the Hiidlased. The chronicle describes his struggles to communicate with the Hiidlased, depicts the complex nuances of this culture, and portrays the twists and turns in his romance with a beautiful Estonian named Kairit.

While all this may seem like standard faire for a Peace Corps book, what makes this story truly unique and enjoyable is the author’s talent as a writer. Wells is a master of irony, poignancy, and angst, guaranteed to keep even the most emotionally handicapped reader laughing out loud, and in a few spots, crying with joy. His humor is biting while at the same time his self-deprecating style keeps it from being offensive. To the contrary, Wells’ tremendous respect for the Hiidlased comes across in every page.

Douglas Wells also had some experiences during his Peace Corps tour that were truly unique by anyone’s standards. He had a #1 song on the Estonian Pop Charts, and was also commended by the Estonian President for finding a lost National Treasure. While these experiences are important elements in his story, Wells in no way relies on these extraordinary events to carry the book. To the contrary, most of the book is about ordinary days as a Peace Corps Volunteer, which may have gone unnoticed save for Wells’ brilliant observations of the irony in the situation and his understanding of his own heart.

“In Search of the Elusive Peace Corps Moment ~ Destination: Estonia” by Douglas Wells is available directly from the Xlibris Press by phoning 1-888 7XLIBRIS (1-888-795-4274), or by visiting the publisher’s website at

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