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It Happened On the Way to War
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It Happened On the Way to War

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  718 ratings  ·  114 reviews
In 2000 Rye Barcott spent part of his summer living in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya. He was a college student heading into the Marines, and he sought to better understand ethnic violence-something he would likely facelater in uniform. He learned Swahili, asked questions, and listened to young people talk about how they survived in poverty he had never imagined. Anxiou ...more
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published (first published March 29th 2011)
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If there are two things I'm a sucker for, they would be Africa and the USMC. Picking up this book was a no-brainer. Liking it, however, was a completely different story.

Being familiar with Kibera thanks to a college friend's organization (Children of Kibera Foundation) but not being familiar with the other efforts there, I was really excited to learn about another organization that helps communities using African solutions to African problems. Barcott may have set up CFK out of a desire to help
The author is a committed Marine in training and then Marine. He is also a high energy young man committed to making changes in people’s lives. He travels to Kenya to work in Kibera, a huge Nairobi slum. While working on changing a few things in Kibera, he is also an active duty Marine. He is a bit in overdrive a lot of the time, but I have met young people like that.

I like that he lived with the people of Kibera and didn’t just come into the area for a few hours a day. I like that he learned Sw
I don't know what's becoming of me - I just read another nonfiction book and LIKED IT. It's rather confusing, really. But here's the thing: this is a great book on leadership. It's a great book on how doing something little can pay off in big ways. And I love the idea of how $26 can ... well, you should read the book. One of the things that struck me was how (in skimming the cover flap) this story reminded me of Jake Harriman's story. Jake is the founder of Nuru International. They're obviously ...more
Interesting, well written memoir about a young man who blends his two loves: the U. S. Marines and the non-governmental organization (NGO) he founds and must fight to organize and finance--Carolina for Kibera (CFK), which funds programs for medical aid, education, and sports in Kibera, Nairobi's largest slum.

Toward the end of the book, there were a couple of parts when Rye explained his thoughts on and the goings on in the Marines where I felt we had been there and done that and I was disengage
Wow. This might not be a five-star book for everyone, but it absolutely is for me. As a memoir lover, I appreciated how Rye Barcott wrote "well, straight and true"--weaving a vibrant tapestry involving his childhood, college, military, Kibera and romantic lives and relationships. As an American who partners with central African folks in participatory development, I was so inspired by the authentic and complicated relationships and balance of power explored and explained between Rye, Salim, Tabit ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is kind of an amazing thing.

I decided to write a paper on Barcott's Carolina For Kibera for my History of Nonprofits class. Naturally, this is the first resource I've viewed in depth. So there's that: the story of co-founding and maintaining a non-profit. I believe there's insight to be gained for NGOs within CFK's story.

Then there's just the fact that it's a compelling story, highlighting the vast inequality that exists. There's sadness and hope, too, but man, is that sadness overwhelmin
First off, I felt an instant connection with the author. He went to UNC Chapel Hill-- I wanted to go there. I went to Rwanda-- he wanted to go there. We were both profoundly impacted by Philip Gourevitch's "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families-- Stories from Rwanda." Of course, the subject of work in Kenya was a big draw for me, since I've been so impacted by the time I've spent there. Even the fact that his mother named him Rye because of the dream Holden Cauf ...more
A fantastic book to offer inspiration to those who seek guidance and meaning in their lives. Perfect for my school library shelves.
This is at essence a biography; the story of a privileged young man who imbibed his father's (crumpled and discarded) ideals, coupled them with a secret bloodlust, and decided to join the US marines.
The story attempts to trace back Rye's interest in social justice and the military, beginning with his childhood and friendships, and to an outsider, it explains much of
This book inspires me to want to do more good for the world
BJ Satorius
For anyone who believes in youth and passion

This young man understands that t best way to help people is to empower them to help themselves . AN endearing coming of age story about love of parents, a desire to help others, a need for adventure, service to his country and war with a stunning insight into how self-serving government leaders endanger their people for ego, private sector profit and glory in committing war. Too bad that RYE and others like him are not better heard by the way Pentago
Colleen ~ The Clever Girl from Gallifrey
Okay I have always been a sucker for war books and books about people who try to help poorer countries so obviously I was going to read this book. I was not let down by it at all and thought it was an excellent read. Rye Barcott (the marine in the book and founder of CFK) did a great job of showing the struggle that he went through between trying to start up an NGO in Kibera while juggling a career in the Marines. I also found it quite inspiring to read a first-hand account of one person trying ...more
Little did I know when I purchased this book on a whim that it would be the most important book for me personally that I have read in a long time. Rye Barcott's struggle between two worlds that appear at first glance to be polar opposites is the real-life version of the struggle I've felt within ever since I began considering a career in the JAG Corps. As I sit here writing this review during my last human rights empowering experience before joining the Army in January, I find it extremely motiv ...more
This book is an absolute triumph. Read it now if you are interested in the connection between national service and investment in and development of leaders at the local level in the midst of poverty and destitution.

Barcott and I know some of the same people in the Corps, which was a surprise to me. I applaud his inclusion of material in the book that could have been excluded that show him in not the most appealing light, such as when he struggled with relationships with some of the people who of
When a young Rye Barcott suffers an accident at a very young age, he comes to realize that his life has a very imporatant purpose. That purpose consists of a life of service to others. As Barcott grows up, he sees himself joining the military and helping people in underserved areas. As an undergrad at the University of North Carolina, he joins ROTC and gets himself sponsors to travel to Kenya. In Kenya, Rye is able to see first-hand a level of poverty uncommon in first world nations like the Uni ...more
I truly want to do this book justice, as it is more deserving of a good review than of any other book I've reviewed.
My first impression when I received this book in the mail was, "Boy, that print is small..." It was with great reluctance that I cracked open the cover. A born pacifist, I was a little leery reading a book that I thought was about war. I couldn't have been more wrong. Rye Barcott admits his feelings about war and the military, while telling his story, but the m
Absolutely inspiring. This is a beautifully-written memoir about how one man can make a difference in this world, particularly in a 'participatory development' framework. Barcott told us the story of how he built the Carolina for Kibera (CFK) from scratch, and how this NGO went on to empower youths and promote their leadership to prevent seemingly-perpetual ethnic violence in Kibera. I was particularly impressed by his notion that youths are the present and future leaders. I concur with an idea ...more
Barcott's memoir deals with the pull between humanitarianism and war and the sense of duty that can pervade both. The book is well-written (if occasionally self-induldgent--it is, after all, a memoir written by someone still in his 20s, but that is fairly easily forgiven.
(view spoiler)
I loved this book. Non fiction isn't always my cup of tea, but Rye Barcott's story was truly an honor to read. I've know about Kibera for years, read lots about it, and even wrote a poem about it during my graduate work.

I admire Carolina for Kibera and Mr. Barcott's commitment to the community and the apporach that they took. The community involvement at the basis of the projects was such a perfect idea and worked so amazingly! It's an inspiring story that could change the way that aid is given
I really enjoyed this book - surprising to me because the last book I read about an American traveling to third world countries to "do good" was awful (don't read Ashley Judd's memoir)! Even though I grew up in a very mission-minded church, I had not heard of Kibera in Kenya and was glad to have the chance to learn more about Nairobi's slums. I found Rye Barcott's style very engaging and he did not spend too much time "tooting his own horn" but rather describing the people he met and bringing us ...more
This book balanced the need to do great things that we have within us with the realities of our obligations. The story of how the author managed to create a life changing organization while actively involved in serving as a Marine officer serves as a powerful reminder of the things that we can accomplish when we believe that we can change the world we live in. This is truly a revolutionary book whose participants and stories are vibrant as well as. not easily forgotten.
I should preface this with, I never read non fiction. Not a fan of the genre, I tend to find it dry and in reality a little boring, having said that, this novel is anything but. To read it is to read something that seems like fiction. The brutal honesty with which this novel is written is commendable, Rye Barcott does an amazing job in not preaching, something that could easily happen, and letting readers come to their own conclusions. The ability to look at his own mistakes and report those as ...more
This man is my newest hero. Compellingly written, Ray Barcott tells the story of his attraction to violence, especially race violence and how it lead him to Kibera, a slum of Nairobi, Kenya. He tells the story of his courageous and brilliant efforts to help the young people there, including the establishment of the now widely respected NGO, Carolina for Kibera. However, he does more than that. He tells us of how his own fascination with violence led him to the Marines and service in Bosnia, Afgh ...more
Daniel K. Locke
Truly inspiring

amazing true account of social action in the worst slum in Kenya by a talented driven young man who was also a u.s. marine. he never fully explain that dichotomy, probably because he didn't fully understand it himself, but in both roles, he was a man of action who practiced self sacrifice at a level few of us could ever attain. highly readable story for everyone, but especially military people.

Erin Isgett
Growing up in a military town, attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and having a heart for service, I loved this book for many reasons. The harsh reality in which so many people live--whether in Kibera or Iraq or even parts of the US--never makes for an easy read, but it is so, so important to open our eyes to those truths and our hearts to those ways that we can help and make a difference.
MariAn Nyce
Read this with not a 'clue' as the what the 'war and peace' part of the title was, but with amazing fortitude he balances his interests of the poor in the largest slum in Nairobi, called the Kibera, while also training for the Marines. His mission/interest helps to create hope for this community with a medical clinic, etc., using the leadership gifts of the people of the community to lift themselves up.
An interesting mix of volunteerism and military might. I find some of these "memoirs" rather self-serving, but there was a lot to learn in his introspection. A thoughtful, although at times too personal, review of the author's work in the marines as well as his charity. I think he tried to be candid in his assessment of war in contrast with his efforts in the slums of Nairobi.
This book came up on a list I was doing research for the selection process of my university's Summer Reading book. As a part of the office that is in charge of making the selection, I had easy enough access and enough time in the day to read it while I was at work.
I did not expect to like this book. Or even finish it.
Instead, I got drawn into the story of a man with a sense of duty as wide as the Mississippi. I liked this book for a Summer Reading book because it was a book with a legitimate exa
I won this through First Reads. I finished this book a while ago but I have had difficulty formulating my review... Maybe because I felt there was so much to digest?? And maybe that's not negative... It can give you a sense of all that Barcott went through in his seemingly unrelated stints with his NGO, CFK (Carolina for Kibera), and the Marines. Barcott is admirable because he does not give up; he is honest about his struggles. The most important point I took away from this book is his emphasis ...more
Daniel Noventa
Learned a lot of things, including references I heard, but never really understood while in the Marines; White Elephant being one of them. Also, never knew those MRE's were meant to cause constipation... that would explain my bowel movements after eating those. Overall, very awesome book. Can't say I would've done the same thing, his wife is pretty amazing, not to mention patient. Lucky guy.
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Rye Barcott co-founded the non-governmental organization Carolina for Kibera (CFK) with Salim Mohamed and Tabitha Atieno Festo while he was an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill earning his B.A. in Peace, War, and Defense. After graduation, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 5 years in Iraq, Bosnia, and the Horn of Africa. Barcott then earned master’s degrees in b ...more
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