Every Hill a Burial Place
The Peace Corps Murder Trial in East Africa
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
On March 28, 1966, Peace Corps personnel in Tanzania received word that volunteer Peppy Kinsey had fallen to her death while rock climbing during a picnic. Local authorities arrested Kinsey's husband, Bill, and charged him with murder as witnesses came forward claiming to have seen the pair engaged in a struggle. The incident had the potential to be disastrous for both the Peace Corps and the newly independent nation of Tanzania. Because of the high stakes surrounding the trial, questions remain as to whether there was more behind the final "not guilty" verdict than was apparent on the surface.
Peter H. Reid, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania at the time of the Kinsey murder trial, draws on his considerable legal experience to expose inconsistencies and biases in the case. He carefully scrutinizes the evidence and the investigation records, providing insight into the motives and actions of both the Peace Corps representatives and the Tanzanian government officials involved. Reid does not attempt to prove the verdict wrong but examines the events of Kinsey's death, her husband's trial, and the aftermath through a variety of cultural and political perspectives.
This compelling account sheds new light on a notable yet overlooked international incident involving non-state actors in the Cold War era. Meticulously researched and replete with intricate detail, Every Hill a Burial Place explores the possibility that the course of justice was compromised and offers a commentary on the delicacy of cross-national and cross-cultural diplomacy.
"Reid offers the definitive look at a now-obscure 1960s murder trial that threatened the future of the Peace Corps. In 1966, Bill Kinsey became the first program volunteer to be accused of murder after his wife, Peppy, died from head wounds while the two were serving in Tanzania. Bill claimed that Peppy had fallen from a hill, but witnesses said they'd seen the couple fighting before her death, and a blood-stained iron bar and stones were found nearby. Bill was supposed to be afforded the same legal protections as an ordinary citizen of the country, but the prosecution was overmatched by the experienced, mostly white defense team that his family arranged, which got him acquitted...Excellent." -- Publishers Weekly
" Every Hill a Burial Place combines the suspense of a fictional legal thriller with a fascinating look at the early days of the Peace Corps in Africa. I enjoyed it as a former criminal defense attorney, a writer of legal thrillers, and a former Peace Corps volunteer who served in Africa at the time of the trial." -- Phillip Margolin, New York Times bestselling author of A Reasonable Doubt and a former Peace Corps volunteer (Liberia, 1965--1967)
"An authoritative analysis of a personal tragedy in Tanzania that threatened the survival of the Peace Corps in its earliest days. The stakes could not have been higher, and Reid captures with great skill the impact of a complex family drama on the Corps and its relationship with a host country." -- Carol Bellamy, former director of the Peace Corps and former executive director of UNICEF
"Peter Reid's account of the 1966 Tanzanian murder trial of Peace Corps volunteer Bill Kinsey is suspenseful and gripping. It is also a careful, judicial examination of the difficulties the Peace Corps faced in balancing its responsibilities to the deceased, the accused, and to US relations with Tanzania. Both the research and presentation are masterful." -- John Hamilton, former US ambassador to Peru and Guatemala
"Peter Reid transforms the gripping story of a Peace Corps volunteer death and the acquittal of her husband into an epic study of the Peace Corps from its first days during the Kennedy administration to the present. And, the fact that he successfully places this human tragedy within the complicated and troublesome days of the Cold War and after makes the book a stunning achievement. It is an amazing, suspenseful report about two young American volunteers in Tanzania that also deepens our understanding of the Peace Corps, America, and their entangled history for the last six decades." -- David Rudenstine, dean emeritus of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University and author of The Day the Presses Stopped and The Age of Deference
"Every Peace Corps volunteer has a story to tell. Few, however, are as surprising and suspenseful as this one." -- John Coyne, novelist and former Peace Corps staff (Ethiopia)
"The violent death of a Peace Corps teacher in Tanzania has shocked, saddened, and perplexed the Peace Corps community for more than fifty years. Was Peppy Kinsey's death a horrific accident, or did her husband, Bill, batter her to death, as some African witnesses claimed? Exhaustive, coherent, thoughtful, and suspenseful, Reid's account of the Kinsey murder trial and its aftermath could well be the final word on this dark event -- unless, of course, this remarkable book triggers new revelations." -- Richard Lipez, author of the Donald Strachey series and former Peace Corps teacher (Ethiopia, 1962--1964)
"Peter Reid has written a meticulously researched and fascinating true story about the ambiguous death of a female Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania in the 1960s and the subsequent prosecution of her husband, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer, for murder. Equally compelling is the backstory about a range of issues receiving intense local and worldwide attention, including calls to "send in the Marines" to rescue the accused, an apparent lack of concern about justice for the deceased, and the perception of special treatment for a white American in a newly independent African nation." -- Skip McGinty, 1960s Peace Corps Africa Volunteer and Peace Corps Country Director, Oman