"Every Hill a Burial Place combines the suspense of a fictional legal thriller with a fascinating look at the early days of the Peace Corps in Africa. I enjoyed it as a former criminal defense attorney, a writer of legal thrillers, and a former Peace Corps volunteer who served in Africa at the time of the trial."—Phillip Margolin, New York Times bestselling author of A Reasonable Doubt and a former Peace Corps volunteer (Liberia, 1965--1967)
"An authoritative analysis of a personal tragedy in Tanzania that threatened the survival of the Peace Corps in its earliest days. The stakes could not have been higher, and Reid captures with great skill the impact of a complex family drama on the Corps and its relationship with a host country." —Carol Bellamy, former director of the Peace Corps and former executive director of UNICEF
"Peter Reid's account of the 1966 Tanzanian murder trial of Peace Corps Volunteer Bill Kinsey is suspenseful and gripping. It is also a careful, judicial examination of the difficulties the Peace Corps faced in balancing its responsibilities to the deceased, the accused, and to US relations with Tanzania. Both the research and presentation are masterful."—John Hamilton, former US ambassador to Peru and Guatemala
"Peter Reid transforms the gripping story of a Peace Corps volunteer death and the acquittal of her husband into an epic study of the Peace Corps from its first days during the Kennedy administration to the present. And, the fact that he successfully places this human tragedy within the complicated and troublesome days of the Cold War and after makes the book a stunning achievement. It is an amazing, suspenseful report about two young American volunteers in Tanzania that also deepens our understanding of the Peace Corps, America, and their entangled history for the last six decades."—David Rudenstine, dean emeritus of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University and author of The Day the Presses Stopped and The Age of Deference
"Every Peace Corps volunteer has a story to tell. Few, however, are as surprising and suspenseful as this one."—John Coyne, novelist and former Peace Corps staff (Ethiopia)
"The violent death of a Peace Corps teacher in Tanzania has shocked, saddened, and perplexed the Peace Corps community for more than fifty years. Was Peppy Kinsey's death a horrific accident, or did her husband, Bill, batter her to death, as some African witnesses claimed? Exhaustive, coherent, thoughtful, and suspenseful, Reid's account of the Kinsey murder trial and its aftermath could well be the final word on this dark event -- unless, of course, this remarkable book triggers new revelations."—Richard Lipez, author of the Donald Strachey series and former Peace Corps teacher (Ethiopia, 1962--1964)
"Peter Reid has written a meticulously researched and fascinating true story about the ambiguous death of a female Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania in the 1960s and the subsequent prosecution of her husband, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer, for murder. Equally compelling is the backstory about a range of issues receiving intense local and worldwide attention, including calls to "send in the Marines" to rescue the accused, an apparent lack of concern about justice for the deceased, and the perception of special treatment for a white American in a newly independent African nation."—Skip McGinty, 1960s Peace Corps Africa Volunteer and Peace Corps Country Director, Oman
A fascinating read of a peace corps death with potential international implications
Was it a murder or an accident? How should the Peace Corps manage this death where one volunteer was charged with killing another? Could the whole Kennedy Era program be in jeopardy? And most critically, was justice done?
Peter Reid's meticulously researched book presents a readable, balanced and critical analysis that sheds light on a baffling death and also gives us a picture of the lives and work of early Peace Corps volunteers in Africa.
I highly recommend this book for its historical insights and its reminder that justice is often about who has the best lawyer. A compelling read.-- John Frohnmayer former Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts.
Former Peace Corps volunteer and Stanford Law School faculty member Peter Reid has written a fascinating story about the death of a fellow Peace Corps volunteer who died in Tanzania in the early days of Peace Corps activity there. Her death was either a tragic accident or a brutal murder by her husband. The issue was decided in a suspenseful trial whose outcome had implications for the husband, his and his wife's families, and the Peace Corps itself. In telling the story, Peter Reid teaches us a lot about criminal law, Tanzania, and the history of the Peace Corps. His book is rigorously researched and a superb read. I recommend it highly. John M. Luce, author of My Journal of the Plague Year.
I was intrigued by this book that I picked up at my local library in Moorhead, MN. It tells of a court case that took place in 1966 in Tanzania. I was a young child attending boarding school in Tanzania at the time in a rural setting not unlike the setting where these events took place, but I had never heard of this case. It may have been my age (eight years old) and the isolated nature of our boarding school. Our school was in Kiomboi, Tanzania while the events in this book took place about 100 miles to the northwest in Maswa. I had never heard of this case before. The author was a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer working in Mwanza, Tanzania at the time. Bill and Peppy Kinsey were working as teachers in Maswa. They decided to take a break from their grading and go to local outcropping (kopje) called Impala Hill for a small outing. We had many of these kopjes around Kiomboi and we often climbed on them and planned outings around them. While there, Peppy climbed on one of the big rocks and fell down some 20 feet and died. Bill was accused of killing her. The book recreates the events and questions surrounding her death, the trial in a fairly newly independent country and an even younger Peace Corps organization. The author has done meticulous research and he tries to answer all the questions surrounding this case. An interesting book. John Benson
The murder of Peppy Kinsey took place at the time I was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer myself, albeit on a different continent. Given the implications of the event for the future of the Peace Corps, not to mention the mental well-being of every volunteer abroad at the time, I’m amazed that I never knew about it until I read this book. Reid’s account of the murder is remarkably even-handed. He looks at the event from a number of important viewpoints—the accused. the volunteers, the local population, the prosecution, the Peace Corps itself and the government of a new nation taking the risk of inviting inexperienced young Americans into its evolving society—and gives each of them judicious respect. He does an excellent job of raising concerns about the way it was handled without lapsing into either hyperbole or judgment. When one of the actors (the Peace Corps, for example) falls short of what might be expected, he points that out but goes out of his way to examine constraints on behavior that are not immediately apparent. Where there is evidence supporting one position or another, he presents it in detail. Where evidence is murky or lacking, he says so. In the end, he leaves it up to readers to judge the actions of each of the participants and reach their own conclusions.
Reid's journalistic reserve left me with some feeling of dissatisfaction, a thirst for clearer resolution of a distressing event, but that was outweighed by the food for thought it forced me to digest. I think I’m glad I was not aware of the Kinsey murder when it happened, but if I had been, I would have been grateful for the large framework into which Reid places it, and for the meticulous, balanced and thought-provoking analysis he gives to it. It is an excellent, deeply researched and cogently presented account of a significant milestone in Peace Corps history. Paul Strasburg
Peter H. Reid. 2020. Every Hill a Burial Place: The Peace Corps Murder Trial in East Africa.
Lexington: University of Kentucky Press. 308 pp.
Every Hill a Burial Place: The Peace Corps Murder Trial in East Africa is a legal thriller…. How will the case turn out? This is where the author’s skill as both a legal researcher, and as a storyteller comes through….
I finished what I expected to be a dry academic text in a few days staying up late to do so. Not what one generally expects of a book from a university press! But the day-to- day descriptions of the trial in particular made the book a page turner. At the end of each chapter, I felt an urgency to read further….
Every Hill a Burial Place has several potential audiences. For a general audience, it is just a good read. If you like a John Grisham legal thriller you will enjoy this book. For Africanists, this book is interesting legal history….It is interesting following the machinations of American diplomats seeking to protect the reputation of the Peace Corps, and the Americans involved. Meanwhile Tanzanians sought to protect their judicial system from American neo-colonial insistence on international standards for defending the American volunteer.
Tony Waters, Payap University (Thailand)
African Studies Quarterly | Volume 20, Issue 3| October 2021