American Taboo by Philip Weiss
A Murder in the Peace Corps

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In 1975, a new group of Peace Corps volunteers landed on the island nation of Tonga. Among them was Deborah Gardner -- a beautiful twenty-three-year-old who, in the following year, would be stabbed twenty-two times and left for dead inside her hut.

Another volunteer turned himself in to the Tongan police, and many of the other Americans were sure he had committed the crime. But with the aid of the State Department, he returned home a free man. Although the story was kept quiet in the United States, Deb Gardner's death and the outlandish aftermath took on legendary proportions in Tonga.

Now journalist Philip Weiss "shines daylight on the facts of this ugly case with the fervor of an avenging angel" (Chicago Tribune), exposing a gripping tale of love, violence, and clashing ideals. With bravura reporting and vivid, novelistic prose, Weiss transforms a Polynesian legend into a singular artifact of American history and a profoundly moving human story.


About Philip Weiss

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Philip Weiss has been a contributing writer to the" New York Times Magazine "and a contributing editor to "Esquire, Harper's Magazine, " and the "New York Observer." He lives in upstate New York.
Published March 17, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 402 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for American Taboo


Journalist Weiss does a masterful job of uncovering the Peace Corps' attempts to contain the ensuing scandal (the better to preserve its beneficent image) and to convince a Tongan jury that Priven wasn't a cold-blooded murderer.

Aug 02 2004 | Read Full Review of American Taboo: A Murder in t...

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