Book Details

New surprises, a new beginning

He arrived in Africa in the middle of the night, unexpected and ill-prepared for the volatile Congo of the mid-1960s—police stops, political turmoil—a culture still reeling from colonial oppression. Plunged without experience into an assignment with meager resources and conflicting expectations, he came face to face with his strengths and his limits. With each Congo dawn came new obstacles and opportunities that demanded action. John Franz describes in this poignant memoir how he navigated the unique and exotic situations he faced with unexpected results. With wit and alacrity, he illustrates how the Congo turned an obligation of alternate service during the Viet Nam War into a crucible for a transformation that recreated his life.


Book Excerpt

"I’ve long felt that my experiences in the Congo as a young man needed to be captured and examined a bit more closely. The memories and insights from those days have periodically flittered across my consciousness much like the wild birds in our back yard – branch to feeder to ground and then away. While I have found it entertaining and sometimes amusing to witness the appearance of these winged memories from time to time, I have carried within a clear sense that my so-called “Congo stories” deserve more than a casual glance. I have long believed, without careful examination, that many of the things I value most in my life were created or shaped during my initial sojourn in Africa. This memoir has provided the opportunity to take that second look, to recognize my experiences as more than a series of separate events – as a character- shaping force."


About the Author

John B. Franz

An award-winning counselor, consultant and professor, Dr. John B. Franz recently retired from a thirty-five year career in higher education. The first of his two sojourns in the Congo is described in this memoir. He and his wife reside in Clovis, California where he continues to enjoy cycling, photography, travel and his grandchildren. They have two adult daughters. Email:

Also by John B. Franz

The Mango Bloom


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