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Often the anecdotes in Peace Corps: The Great Adventure find their volunteer raconteurs in situations where survival and the elements are real, but the simpler lifestyle and adjustment to material scarcities are what enlighten. In this Peace Corps publication, small things take on greater significance. A fishing lure makes a big difference for those who depend on the Nile’s perch in a tale by contributor Phil Hellmich. There are latrine building mishaps, an ode to the Ukrainian potato, the brutal Mongolian chill, Indra the weather God, and the angelic children of Tonga. The cumulative effect of the idealism in these stories should be inspiring but feels naive. There’s no macro-view allowed in the Adventure, no explanation of regional politics or even incidental mention of U.S. policies with which to frame these accounts. And so the adventure is a wonderful cultural exchange, but can one really forget that it takes place in a politicized world? Hellmich reads and the Peace Corps gives away copies at 7:30 p.m. at Borders, 5871 Crossroads Center Way, Baileys Crossroads. Free. (703) 998-0404; and at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12, at Barnes & Noble, 3651 Jefferson Davis Highway, Alexandria. Free. (703) 299-9124. (John Dugan)