The Ugly American

The Ugly American

Book - 1958
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In the episode that lends the book its title, the "ugly American" is Homer Atkins, a plain and plain-spoken man, who has been sent by the U.S. government to advise the Southeast Asian country of Sarkhan on engineering projects. When Atkins finds badly misplaced priorities and bluntly challenges the entrenched interests, he lays bare a foreign policy gone dangerously wrong.First published in 1958, The Ugly American? became a runaway national bestseller for its slashing expos#65533; of American arrogance, incompetence, and corruption in Southeast Asia. In linked stories and vignettes, the book uses gripping storytelling to draw a devastating picture of how the United States was losing the struggle with Communism in Asia.
Publisher: New York, Norton [1958]
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780393318678
0393318672
Branch Call Number: LEDE
Characteristics: 285 p. 22 cm.

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FAIL-SAFE made a better film, starring Henry Fonda. This novel teaches quite a lot from the point of view of our diplomatic corp, of why we were stuck in that morass called Southeast Asia.

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lukasevansherman
Aug 24, 2014

If nothing else, Lederer and Burdick's "The Ugly American" was the rare book title that entered the lexicon. This book was something of a sensation when it was released in the Cold War atmosphere of the 50s and, as such, has to be read in context. Set in a fictional Southeast Asian country, it is critical of American foreign policy, especially the way it was combating communism in Asia. It is interesting (and a little depressing) as a look at Vietnam before we became involved militarily. Graham Greene's "The Quiet American" is a similar, if more cynical book. Turned into a film with Marlon Brando and followed by a sorta sequel called "The Deceptive American." Co-writer Burdick also wrote "Fail-Safe."

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