This Is Not Civilization

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In an attempt to escape his own family problems, Jeff Harting travels the globe trying to help those who need help the most. Fresh out of college, Harting is hired to run a teen center on an Apache reservation in Arizona. Eager to be there and make a difference, he is met by resentment from many who believe he has stolen an Indian’s job. He leaves the reservation disheartened after the teen center he worked so hard to create with young Apache Adam Dale, is vandalized beyond repair.

His next humanitarian effort takes him to the recently independent nation of Kyrgyzstan, where he is sent to teach the struggling villagers English so they can enter the international market. Upon his arrival he is told “Here your America exists only in our imaginations. This is not civilization.” Although the lessons are not successful, Harting makes close friends, including Anarbek and Nazira, and develops an appreciation of the culture and the strength of the people of Kyrgyzstan.

With a feeling of failure in his Central Asian Peace Corps efforts, Harting ventures to Istanbul to help refugees find safe harbor in America. Little does Jeff know that while in Istanbul, Adam Dale, Anarbek, and Nazira, viewing him as their last hope in saving their communities, will each find their way to his doorstep. Unfortunately, they arrive on the eve of one of the worst earthquakes that Turkey, and the world, have seen.

Robert Rosenberg’s This Is not Civilization is an engaging read that explores coming of age, prejudice, tradition, love, and the human spirit.