The influential life of a leading Berkeley scholar who served as an adviser to the United Nations and American and African governments.
John M. Letiche started life as Ianik Letichevsky, a citizen of the newly constituted Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The son of a brilliant but dictatorial father and a loving, cultivated mother, he went on to a remarkable career as an accomplished scholar, professor of economics, and adviser to governments.
Letiche, now in his nineties, provides an intriguing look at the changes that have occurred during his lifetime. Following his Kiev childhood and formative years in Depression-era Montreal, he completed a doctorate at the University of Chicago and took up a Rockefeller fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. As a technical advisor to the Economic Commission for Africa he conducted trade talks with both gifted and corrupt heads of state in sub-Saharan Africa, and later shared a working White House dinner with an infamous American president. His half-century-long teaching career at Berkeley included a front row seat for the Free Speech Movement and the most documented student revolt in popular history.
Told with humour, insight, and humility, Crises and Compassion moves nimbly among weighty events and meaningful personal history, showing how "civility in intellectual exchange" came to be the guiding principle of a life of monumental experiences.