Lost in the dusty Inca ruins of Peru at age 6, tattooed by head-hunters in the jungles of Borneo at age 12, luxuriated lasciviously and flirted with pro-Castro revolutionaries in a corrupt pre-Castro Havana, wrestled a Bengal tiger, lived beneath the iron curtain's shadow in occupied Trieste, witnessed the astounding mid-hurricane Atlantic rescue of hundreds of passengers and sailors from a burning ship.
An atypical upbringing meant atypical experiences. Stephen Baldwin's ordinary world involved living with very rich and very famous relatives and friends, including Adlai Stevenson, Richard Nixon, and the Washington Post's Phil and Kaye Graham. He explored virtually unknown temples in Angkor and Rangoon, routinely crisscrossed oceans in luxury liners that fully lived up to their promise, ran with the bulls in Pamplona when he was 20, was instrumental in saving thousands clinging to life after a cataclysmic tidal wave and cyclone in Bangladesh, then in setting up an underground railway for Bengali leaders escaping from Pakistani genocide, finally escaping to carry that story to the outside world.
It is true that there are few undiscovered wildernesses today. Transportation and communication advances have blazingly brought everything close to us, but in that process nearly everything has been rendered commonplace. Yet much of the world was neither close nor common a mere 60 years ago, and Stephen had a front row seat to the spectacle-sometimes getting too close to the fire.
Shadows Over Sundials chronicles the astonishing adventures of a Foreign Service brat who later worked in poor countries for The Ford Foundation, Population Council, and United Nations, spearheading international development, then went on to tackle seemingly intractable problems in inner-city education, first as a New York City Teaching Fellow in a failing South Bronx elementary school, finally as Board Chair of a charter school he helped establish there to do it better.