How I Lost God and Found Myself in Africa

"The trope of mountain climbing as an irresistible call—and the presence of Mount Kilimanjaro as a proving ground—is fit smoothly into [the author's] social and political awakenings. Like Howard Thurman (With Head and Heart, 1979) and Gretel Ehrlich (A Match to the Heart, 1994), Hatcher not only illuminates his own life but the life of the reader as well. An intriguing choice for interfaith book discussion."
 — Francisca Goldsmith, for the
American Library Association

“Personal accounts like this one are hard to pull off, but Bill Hatcher does it!”
Forrest Whitman for Colorado Central Magazine

“Bill Hatcher got about as much from his experience as any [Peace Corps] Volunteer could hope for — accomplishment, challenge, adventure; new eyes and ears as well as a close call with death; education, heartbreak, and through it all, a changing relationship with God. Not a bad two years, all beautifully recalled…"
Eric Lax for Peace Corps Worldwide

“More than rote storytelling, this bracingly honest book follows Hatcher through a transformation from a red-blooded, all-American good old boy to an adventurer and global citizen.”
Madeline Friend for The Leader

"This is a wonderful book. Complicated. Interesting. With depth and meaning [for people] working their ways out of orthodoxy that stifles growth. Lovely work."
Jean Gould, author of
Forty Years Since My Last Confession


At 27 years of age, Bill Hatcher was at a crossroads. Brought up in an evangelical household in the Bible Belt, his religion had provided no answers to his parents’ broken marriage, or, indeed, his own divorce. The key to his salvation would come from a most unlikely source: a flyer calling for Peace Corps Volunteers.

A year later, Hatcher finds himself in Tanzania, East Africa. As a geography teacher at an all-girls’ boarding school, he’s expected to broaden his students’ horizons, but instead it is his own worldview that is challenged―by encounters with local shamans, dangerous ascents on Mount Kenya, Kilimanjaro, and Mount Meru, and especially a friendship with a Muslim student. Through tragedy and triumph, by questioning the very core of his being, he manages to escape the confines of his “marble room” and gain a new understanding of himself and God.

Filled with breathtaking accounts of death-defying mountain climbs and the spectacular beauty of the African landscape, this memoir is both a tale of adventure and self-discovery―and proof that even the most naïve and insular American can achieve a spiritual awakening.

After narrowly surviving a plane crash, Bill Hatcher wakes up to discover his life of carefree abandon shattered. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania in the 1990s, he had risen above his own racial prejudices and religious jingoism, and yet had remained emotionally aloft, afraid to commit to the full transformation that was calling to him.

In spite of misgivings, he returns to Africa. In Kenya, he flies bush planes, guides wilderness courses, and falls in love with a young Kikuyu woman. All seems well, until he is attacked and beaten by thugs and then injured when he’s chased by an elephant. Still unable to deal with reality, he escapes to Alaska, where he flies still higher and loves even more recklessly. Ultimately, the principles of flight force him to make a choice: to fly away again or finally return to Earth as an advocate for social, animal, and environmental justice.

Set before, during, and after 9/11 and the wars that followed, and filled with spectacular scenes of flights over the African savanna and Alaskan glaciers, Principles of Flight is a memoir of grand adventure as well as a psychosocial inquiry into the hyper-masculinism that has dominated world.


Published by Lantern Books, November 2012.
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The Marble Room
Bill Hatcher Books, LLC
Expected release date is December 1st, 2017!

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