EBOOK READ (The Ugly American) µ William J. Lederer
A makes ou sick to Giant Steps to Change the World your stomach don t worry It s less an indictment of Communism than it is of American stupidity The book will makeou groan and guffaw and wonder how we even managed to become a country in the first placeBut for each idiot the book presents there is a well meaning hardworking and intelligent foil Homer Atkins aka the Ugly American after whom the book takes its name is an engineer fluent in Sarkhanese and determined to improve the lives of the people in the country through simple effective technology Atkins is indeed ugly in the conventional sense he doesn t dress well his hands are perpetually dirty and his manner of speaking is course rather than refined This ugliness sets him apart in a world where appearance is considered important than common sense Dammit said Homer Atkins to himself as he looked around the room at the fashionably dressed men The princes of bureaucracy were the same all over the world They sat in their freshly pressed clothes ran their clean fingers over their smooth cheeks smiled knowingly at one another and asked engineers like Atkins silly uestions 205Atkins ugliness is a metaphor for many things including honesty pragmatism sincerity and discernment The bureaucrats described in the above paragraph are none of these things but are nevertheless bestowed with power than Atkins has I ve found myself in many situations where I feel I m the only person in the room with anything genuine to say and I m sure I m not the only person who s experienced this Especially when ou can just watch a Ted Talk anytime a pseudo intellectual self congratulating phenomenon that never fails to make me feel nauseatedWilliam J Lederer and Eugene Burdick were smart enough to write a book that pretty much anyone can understand In terms of prose it s clear and precise with few chances for misinterpretation This helps to explain no doubt why it became a huge bestseller in the late 50searly 60s and is still a linchpin in many Political Science classrooms today I dearly wish I had read this book in high school not only would it have helped me enormously with debate I could have started to cast off the mantle of the Western centric neoliberal and semi colonialist education that I received in the American public school system much much earlierThis book flies in the face of adages accepted as common knowledge eg You can t fight an ideology I ve heard that phrase used many times to explain America s defeat in Vietnam and our long winded sashay in the Middle East We can t fight those guys they fall prey to a dangerous ideology and after that they can t be rescued Incidentally in 1958 Lederer and Burdick demonstrated that this is a flimsy excuse The fictional Father Finnian again based on a real life persona cunningly crafts an effective stratagem against Communism in BurmaAfter an exhaustive study of Communism including reading the prophecies of Lenin Stalin Engels and Marx and becoming fluent in the local language Father Finnian recruits 9 anti Communist Burmese to devise a way to demonstrate to everyone else that Communism is not in their best interests In the course of their conversations Finnian and the Burmese demonstrate why Communism is inherently anti Democratic the Communists have made all worship impossible except the worship of Stalin Lenin Mao In the areas the Communists control everyone must believe in one single thing CommunismI too am a Catholic but I do not reuire that all of us be Catholics What this means I think is that the thing we want is a country where any man can worship any god he wishes where he can live the way his heart says That I think is the final big thing 55This conversation however is ironic in the wider context of The Ugly American Americans who travel abroad and insist on replicating American lifestyles in vastly different circumstances who are convinced that traditional warfare will eventually surmount guerrilla tactics who assert that large construction projects are prestigious and useful than small everyday technological improvements who interact
only with other Americans and are incapable of detecting the disdain in which they are held by foreigners and with other Americans and are incapable of detecting the disdain in which they are held by foreigners and who do all of this in the name of DEMOCRACY Well frankly that s idiocracyActual rating 455 stars 15 starsI m so glad this semester is almost over because my Political Science class has the worst reading curriculum This book was so drybland and the explanations were incredibly long winded I skimmed the last 70 pages for th One theory is that the book is based on an actual US ambassador to South Vietnam Ellsworth Bunker a rich businessman He never learned the language or left the compound He s only given the information that his staff thinks he ought to have I read this book in 1982 just before I joined the Peace Corps The book was important to me because it solidified the idea that we are all walking a path that is uniue and the that we are engrossed by our own path consumed by our own needs wishes and desires we will miss the beauty and uniueness of every other person and every culture under the sun The book is timeless in that we could once again be called Ugly Americans or perhaps accurately Oblivious Americans or Arrogant Americans or Self Absorbed Americans We have changed in part due to the writing of The Ugly American and have improved some aspects of the way we approach the world as a nation and as individuals I first encountered this book as part of an undergraduate political science class on American politics Among other long and dry reading assignments I found myself thoroughly engaged in the book and looking forward to spending time reading Lederer and Burdick s work In fact I d have to say that it has been my favorite book since that political science class almost 25 ears agoI have read it at least 20 times in those 25 New Erotica for Feminists Satirical Fantasies of Love Lust and Eual Pay years often as a source for a paper I was writing but also for pleasure While this is not a typical beach read I have re read it while traveling and at the beach on several occasions This past week I was on a business trip and sleeping in a hotel room This combination of factors is usually good for a bout of insomnia on my part and this trip was no different Lederer and Burdick came to my rescueet again and provided a thoroughly enjoyable way to pass through several hours of insomniaThe storyies centers on a fictional country in Southeast Asia named Sarkhan The book s chapters compare and contrast the competence and incompetence on the part of the diplomats politicos military officers and ex pats in Sarkham Heroes include Ambassador Gilbert McWhite John Colvin and Homer Atkins THE ugly American all men who took the time to learn the culture in which they were being plantedIt is easy now with 2020 hindsight to see this book as a parable stemming from the Vietnam War However the book was written well before American stepped up its involvement in Vietnam in 1958 and was purportedly read by President Eisenhower and responsible for many of the Reforms That He Introduced Into America S that he introduced into America s aid programs The general thesis of the authors was that US diplomats and other foreign station workersadvisors who failed to study and adapt to the cultures they were entering were doomed to failure or worse Worse still the American bureaucracy wasn t interested in the opinions of the Foreign Service staff that did study and understand the cultures into which they were placedGiven that this book was written at the tail end of the McCarthy era the insights of Lederer and Burdick are uite exceptional in fact some government agencies sought to ban the book in Asia and in many ways that failed effort can be seen as one of the last scenes Not only important but consistently entertaining The attack on American policy in Asia this book makes is clothed in sharp characterizations freuently humorous incident and perceptive descriptions of the countries and people where the action occurs Robert Trumbull former chief correspondent for the New York Times in China and Southeast Asi. .
Summary The Ugly AmericanS simplicity that makes the book feel helpful even motivating It s practically a training pamphlet on community development It s soaked with Peace Corps type lessons without being preachy in tone As a current Peace Corps Volunteer reading this book felt like a helpful reminder of some of the things I believe in In my work here I put pressure on myself to start a big project that can last long after I ve left I call this urge statue building Or shrine building I want to build something big and memorable Something that people can point to and say Bart built that and it is awesome This is obviously the wrong approach Rather it is the tiny sum of things the tiny battles the relationships built the small incremental progress Going out and talking with people Allowing community members to lead Acting as a helper less as a commander Assessing needs acting in friendship This is how real successes are achieved Lederer makes that point strongly when he writes The little things we do must be moral acts and they must be done in the real interest of the peoples whose friendship we need not just in the interest of propaganda 267 For this reason the book felt relevant beyond its Cold War context It is a sort of working guide holy book for development work It s not ground breaking Far from it But its power is that it s a good reminder tiny battles cultural sensitivity assessing needs acting in a supportive rather than commanding role These are points that I wanted to be reminded of It s not hard for this stuff to hit home If The New Roger's Profanisaurus you ve ever heard the term ugly American used this is where it originated And ifou want to understand why many folks from other countries refer to some Americans using that phrase this book will make it crystal clear why they do Excellent read The Ugly American was published in 1958 as a call for change It was a blockbuster with millions of copies sold The authors wanted to alert the American people to the fact that their government s diplomatic efforts against communism were failing due to a combination of unualified people being put in the foreign service and a we know best approach to other nations There was an impact JFK did start the Peace Corps and did appoint ualified people rather than big donors as ambassadors Long term not only have the lessons of this book been disregarded the entire State Department has been effectively dismissed in favor of military plays around the globeThe book as literature is laughable It should be read by anyone wondering what the words caricature and stereotype mean Written at an 8th grade level perhaps deliberately in order to reach all Americans it is a collection of short stories about individual Americans blindly serving themselves in a foreign land in contrast to a few selfless Yankees doing the right thing among the natives Everyone will get the point because it is driven home again and again Tying the whole together is a dedicated US Ambassador to a fictitious southeast Asian country called Sarkan who travels the area honestly trying to educate himself on the situationTo put it bluntly The Ugly American is an insult to the intelligence of the readerThat puts me in a bind on rating this work It accomplished what it set out to do successfully reaching a huge number of Americans probably far than the authors had hoped to reach The cause was worthy so five stars are well deserved for propagandaBut to the modern reader well I continually had to stifle a gag At the same time I realize that 1950 s America was an age of innocence and the portrayals in this book might well have resonated with readers at the timeIn keeping with the 1950 s outlook communism is without a doubt evil a creeping deceiving menace out to capture the innocents of the world in a net of absolute control While there is plenty in the book about the US supporting France there is nothing about the history of Vietnam being a French colony of France s intention to regain that colony after WW2 and the full cooperation of the US in that effort Nothing is said of Ho Chi Minh s admiration of the US and his initial attempts to gain US support in opposition to French re entryFar from being innocent peasants cluelessly waiting for selfless American individuals to enlighten them on building water pumps and raising chickens the Vietnamese were painfully aware of how the West had dumped them as they strove for independence after the Japanese occupation of WW2 and how the real concern of non communists was to regain control to the point of halting elections in South Vietnam out of fear of a communist win It was because of this hypocritical stand that America made itself ugly Even if everything this book s authors recommended had been done it would have been nothing to counterbalance America s betrayal of it s own ideals in Vietnam in favor of an ideological battle with communismA 1963 movie was made from this book starring Marlon Brando as the US Ambassador to Sarkan The movie is an effective believable tragedy and has one of the most powerful final scenes of any movie I ve seen Forget the book See the movie Again and again while reading this
book I found myself flipping to the copyright page to check the publication date 1958 How it is possibleI found myself flipping to the copyright page to check the publication date 1958 How it is possible something so pressing and relevant to contemporary America appeared over 50 ears agoFrom 1958 to 2014 few things it seems have changedThe Ugly American is a tale of American foreign policy gone wrong It s a series of vignettes about dumb and dumber statesmen who are propped up in relative luxury overseas inadvertently causing massive harm to smaller and weaker countries Its fictional though based on real life characters can be neatly classified into two categories those who are idiots and those who are notAmong the idiots are Joe Bing a public relations man who manages to recruit all of the wrong type of people into duty overseas He waxed lyrical about the conditions one can expect a description that caused me to uncomfortably remember the 3 ears I spent in Okinawa Japan when I was a kid Foreign affairs is a big business and it s important business You all know that Now maybe I can tell The power (Novela) Version en español (Spanish Edition) you a few things about working abroad for Uncle Sammy thatou won t read in the handouts After all even when The Green Ghost and Other Stories you re doing big work and important workou still have to relax and I know السودان المأزق التاريخي وآفاق المستقبل you d like to know about the informal side of living and working abroadYou ll have to work among foreigners but we don t expectou to love em just because Dune Messiah you work among em I don t care whereou work for Uncle Sammy Le Destin au berceau. Ingalits et reproduction sociale you ll be living with a gang of clean cut AmericansYou can buy the same food in Asia thatou can in PeoriaWhen Self-hypnosis in 48 Hours you live overseas it s still on the high American standard 79 80So how does this measure up to my experience as a 7 10ear old kid living on Kadena Air Force Base Unfortunately it s pretty accurate I spent probably 90% of my time on the base interacting with clean cut American kids and attending an international all English speaking school I learned about a dozen phrases in Japanese that s it My family shopped at the PX and the BX and the Commissary The times we did venture off base usually on the weekends to go to the beach we considered the atmosphere exotic and treated each excursion like a vacation Now did living in Okinawa for 3 ears change me as a person To some extent sure But it definitely wasn t a person To some extent sure But it definitely wasn t rich cultural immersion that it could have beenBack to the idiotsThe bulk of The Ugly American is set in the fictional Southeast Asian nation of Sarkhan a thinly veiled allusion to Vietnam The subject America s ineffective efforts to curb the spread of Russian Communism But if the idea of reading Cold War propagand. Icture of how the United States was losing the struggle with Communism in Asia Combining gripping storytelling with an urgent call to action the book prompted President Eisenhower to launch a study of our military aid program that led the way to much needed reformPowerful and absorbing Should be reuired reading in Washington Kirkus Reviews. .
I was told that this is an American classic and that every soldier and diplomat going downrange to represent the US should read it Recently while reading another book about the French fight in Indochina and how we inherited Viet Nam from that effort I ran across the backstory on The Ugly American and decided it was time to get a copy Fifty six ears after publication the book is still relevant The gist of this work appears in the chapter that shares the book s name The simple fact is Mr Ambassador that average Americans in their natural state if Instinct for Freedom Finding Liberation Through Living you will excuse the phrase are the best ambassadors a country could have They are not suspicious they are eager to share their skills they are generous But something happens to most Americans when they go abroad Many of them are not average they are second raters Many of them against their own judgment feel that they must live up to their commissaries and big cars and cocktail parties But get an unaffected American sir andou have an asset And if ou get one treasure him keep him out of the cocktail circuit away from bureaucrats and let him work in his own way The authors hammered this together back in 1958 with crises brewing in Viet Nam in Berlin and Cuba in the age where both we and the Communists were dividing up the world and wrestling with the revelation that we now had city killer weaponry when we were analyzing the lessons learned from Korea and watching our British and French allies empires crumble in Africa and Asia This book still holds a stark message If we are doing business in someone else s house we should send the best Americans we have even if we ve won the political fight to keep Khrushchev and Mao from eating up the Third World I would argue that even the chapters on Dien Bien Phu and Mao s blueprint for insurgency are worth a look even today because again the world hasn t gotten any simpler The common assessment still stands The Ugly American is an American classic and anyone representing America abroad should check it out Though The Ugly American was published in 1958 it rose to 6 on the bestseller list in 1959 Set in the fictional country Sarkhan it is a fictional account of American foreign policy in Southeast Asia and particularly in Vietnam The writing style is reminiscent of James Michener especially his early books such as Tales of the South Pacific I was surprised at what a page turner it was and read it in just a few hoursIn the 1950s America had decided that the USSR was our greatest enemy that Communism was dedicated to the eradication of our way of life that foreign aid was the solution to successfully overcoming these threats to freedom and democracy America it would seem was born in revolt against a powerful enemy and so must always have one selected to keep us goingThe point in The Ugly American is not that we should fail to fight against Communism but that we were going about it in all the wrong ways The authors claimed that incidents in the book were true with only the names changed According to their views we were losing the fight against Communism in Southeast Asia because our diplomats and foreign service workers were alienating the peoples of Vietnam Indonesia Burma Cambodia Laos and Thailand due to arrogance rudeness and the inappropriate appropriations of billions of dollars in those countriesAmbassadors and their administrative aides seldom knew anything about the countries where they served could not speak the languages and conseuently were woefully out of touch with the peoples In contrast to the chapters exemplifying the above are others about honest hardworking well intentioned Americans who actually helped certain Asian villagers improve their lots by small effective measures such as showing them how to farm effectively or start small industriesThe book had a large impact in America and some say it led the way to the formation of the Peace Corps I was surprised to see a chapter The Lessons of War in which a US Army Major one of the good ones studied Mao Tse tung s writings on war and figured out why the Western armies cannot ever win against Asian guerillasAs I finished the book I wondered if it was still relevant today After all haven t we won in Asia because of Coca Cola Hollywood movies fashion the internet and all that I came across Mekong Network that featured a review of The Ugly American Bruce Sharpe founder of the site is an across Mekong Network that featured a review of The Ugly American Bruce Sharpe founder of the site is an who became involved with modern day issues in Southeast Asia after he began tutoring refugees from those countries in Chicago The last line of his review statesAnd et America s foreign policy is still haunted by the same mistakes The Cold War is long finished and communism discredited but it hardly matters Who needs an enemy like communism when とんび you are alreadyour own worst enemySo we still have a problem with our image not only in the Middle East but also in Asia And es The Ugly American is still relevant The Ugly American is a story about Americans living and working in the fictional
South East Asian nation of Sarkhan Written in 1958 it is a critiue of American foreignEast Asian nation of Sarkhan Written in 1958 it is a critiue of American foreign specifically the work of embassies and expats abroad In this novel Lederer argues that the US is losing the tiny battles against the Soviet Union The US is too focused on dumping money into countries and building giant infrastructure projects that host countries aren t prepared for and don t really need We pay for huge highways through jungles in Asian lands where there is no transport except bicycle and foot 282 Instead Lederer argues the US must focus on the tiny battles Americans abroad must learn the local language spend time in the countryside assess local needs and come up with small realistic solutions that help the every man Lederer makes this argument through his characters of which there are two basic types those that immerse themselves in luxury hire servants import cars and make no attempt to understand the culture they live in And those that live within their means work with and listen to locals and seek to understand the culture they live in It is not difficult to guess which prototype Lederer believes *Is Better Suited For US Foreign Policy And Winning Hearts *better suited for US foreign policy and winning hearts minds abroadThis book is enjoyable and effective and part of the reason for this is because it is remarkably simple But that is also one of its faults It doesn t try to assess the messy details There are only good and bad people in this book People that have good intentions and want to understand foreign cultures And people who are condescending to locals and could care less about the cultures they live in But what is often fascinating and common are the well meaning people who fuck up really bad The Ghosts of King Leopold humanitarians and the Neoconservatives who ended up creating cruelty despite their good intentions That s the fascinating stuffWhat s Lederer seems to present a false choice in describing these two types of people suggesting that a development worker can simply choose if they want to be an ugly American or a sympathetic one In reality it s challenging to adjust to and understand a foreign culture It s tough to be patient tough to change our own habits and to come around to different ways of thinking that are no perfect than Surfing: The World's Best Surf Breaks and Techniques (World Sports Guide) your own It s not as simple as hiking out into the countryside picking up the language playingour harmonica making friends and smiling The Infernal your way to producing an awesome new fog trapping irrigation system or some similarly incredible hippie invention In one of the stories a village even builds a shrine to commemorate one of the development workers This is a good book but scenes and simplifications like this are laughable Andet it is it. The multi million copy bestseller that coined the phrase for tragic American blunders abroadFirst published in 1958 The Ugly American became a runaway national bestseller for its slashing expose of American arrogance incompetence and corruption in Southeast Asia Based on fact the book's eye opening stories and sketches drew a devastating