The Call: The Spiritual Realism of Sargent Shriver presents an imagined conversation with the Peace Corps founder that sheds light on the deep motivations that shaped his approach to leadership.
The Sargent Shriver Peace Institute (SSPI, www.sargentshriver.org) has announced its publication of a new book about Peace Corps founder and War on Poverty architect Robert Sargent Shriver (1915-2011). The Call: The Spiritual Leadership of Sargent Shriver explores the ways in which Shriver’s signature leadership style was fueled by his deep spirituality. Shriver’s approach to public service, while rooted in his devout Catholic faith, is an example for anyone who has felt the deeply human impulse to serve others.
The book has an unusual, creative format. It is written as a “true conversation that never happened”, an imagined dialogue between a meticulously constructed Shriver and a fictional interviewer named Didymus. The book’s author, Jamie Price, worked closely with Shriver for over 20 years and is the Founding Director of the Sargent Shriver Peace Institute.
Informed by hundreds of Shriver’s speeches, philosophers and theologians who inspired him, and real-life conversations between Shriver and the author, The Call presents a portrait of Shriver that those who knew him will undoubtedly recognize, and those who didn’t can come to know. The book’s pairing of Shriver with Didymus, an inquisitive companion who is striving to understand the motivation and approach behind Shriver’s work, results in a highly readable dramatization that allows the reader to understand Shriver’s unique way of serving others, effecting change, and building peace in more tangible ways than traditional academic writings could.
The book’s title, The Call, refers to a specific episode from Shriver’s life, in which he received a fateful phone call from his brother-in-law, President John F. Kennedy, asking him to be Director of an as-yet-nonexistent Peace Corps. Although he was reluctant to take on the role, Shriver describes a spiritual “call” that occurred in this pivotal moment, one that allowed him to self-transcend and to open to the possibility of creating what would become an international institution whose mission was and continues to be to “promote world peace and friendship”.
The Call is an intimate, unique, at times humorous dialogue that lays bare the inner workings of a mind that is always questioning the relationship between spirit and action. It invites readers to nurture human connection and effect social change as Sargent Shriver did, with curiosity, creativity, and compassion.