In this elegantly written memoir, a young man recounts his life-changing sojourn in a world of immeasurable poverty and instability: Charles Taylor’s Liberia.
William Powers went to Liberia as a fresh-faced aid worker in 1999 and was given the mandate to “fight poverty and save the rainforest.” While flying over the country’s Sapo National Park, he gets his first taste of Liberia’s stunning, gem-like rainforests—“a block of peacock, kelly, and olive green stretching out to the horizon”—and finds himself filled with purpose and hope.
But it’s not long before Powers learns that years of fighting and famine have left Liberia poor, environmentally looted, scarred by violence, and barely governed, with Taylor himself supporting the massive logging efforts that seek to turn Liberia into a virtual desert. During his mission, Powers comes face-to-face with unspeakable horrors, vast ecological destruction, and the insidious corruption behind every transaction.
Yet, against the odds, he finds a place in the jungle that feels like home and a woman he might risk everything for, until violence descends once more, threatening his friends and his future.
With the pacing and prose of the best novels, Blue Clay People is an absorbing blend of humor, compassion, and rigorous moral questioning. It proves that the fate of endangered places such as Liberia must matter to all of us.