Book Talk: Marine turned sights on Nairobi slum charity

Thu Jul 7, 2011 7:33am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Rye Barcott was heading into the U.S. Marines in 2000 when he decided to spend part of his summer living in tiny shacks in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, to better understand what lay behind ethnic violence.

Eleven years on and Carolina for Kibera (CFK) (,

the charity Barcott helped establish to help slum dwellers help themselves, is being held up as a model for so-called "participatory development."

Barcott wrote a book about his experiences, "It Happened on the Way to War," published by Bloomsbury in the United States earlier this year and in Britain on July 5.

It describes his life both as an aid worker and an American soldier caught up in the post-9/11 maelstrom -- worlds he believes are not mutually exclusive despite what he sees as U.S. military mistakes along the way in theatres like Iraq.

Barcott spoke to Reuters about the book.

Q: What is the book about and why did you write it?

A: "The book is about the merging of these two forms of service that some see as contradictory -- social entrepreneurship in Africa and military service in the Marines.   Continued...