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Response to ConcernedCanuk (Original post)

Fri Mar 29, 2013, 09:19 AM

33. A 2009 review of "The Ugly American" written in 1958....

Still ‘Ugly’ After All These Years

Quote:

Published in 1958, the book is often confused with another cold-war-era novel set in Southeast Asia, “The Quiet American,” which appeared in 1955. Yet “The Ugly American,” which depicted the struggle against insurgent Communism in the fictional nation of Sarkhan, was the bigger success, spending 76 weeks on the best-seller list and selling roughly five million copies. Writing in the Book Review, the veteran correspondent Robert Trumbull called it a “devastating indictment of American policy” and a “source of insight into the actual, day-by-day byplay of present titanic political struggle for Asia.”

The novel is a series of linked sketches of real people that Lederer, a Navy captain who served as special assistant to the commander in chief of United States forces in the Pacific and Asian theater, and Burdick, a political scientist, encountered overseas during the buildup to Vietnam. The book was originally commissioned by W. W. Norton as nonfiction, but an editor suggested it might be more effective as a novel. “What we have written is not just an angry dream,” the authors note in the introduction, “but rather the rendering of fact into fiction.” Yet the book’s enduring resonance may say less about its literary merits than about its failure to change American attitudes. Today, as the battle for hearts and minds has shifted to the Middle East, we still can’t speak Sarkhanese.


Still "ugly" after all of these years, indeed.

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