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.
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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