Under the best of conditions, the Peace Corps experience is somewhat like being parachuted into a human drama unfolding in a different culture. The volunteer struggles to be understood, but his attempts can be for naught if he misunderstands the framework of his role. The only way to really understand the framework of one's Peace Corps role is to live inside it, as did author James Jouppi. In August of 1971, Jouppi arrived in Thailand as part of Peace Corps Thailand Group 38, a civil engineering group slated to work in the most communist-sensitive and most poverty-stricken areas of Thailand for Thailand's Community Development Department. In Backward Buildup, Jouppi documents the challenges of working inside the Peace Corps system, both prior to his work areas being designated red and after that time as well. Augmented with maps, photographs, and letters, Backward Buildup offers a compelling look into both the politics of Nixon-era America and that of staunchly anti-communist Thailand as it fought a shadow war adjoining the one that was raging in Vietnam and Laos, before projecting into the present and providing insights for new strategies in the future.