The Ugly American by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick

It has been interesting reading a book that was published in 1958 during the Cold War, when newly independent nation states were up for grabs between two global superpowers. From what I can surmise from the authors; it seems the stories of Americans living, working, fighting, and loving in Asia were a cautionary tale to the public about high moral and political risks when two completely different nations continue to resist rather than understand each other.

My favorite line from the book was from the American Ambassador’s recommendations about the recruitment and training of the Department of State staff: “But, I repeat, grand patterns are no more than the sum of their tiniest parts, and it is on this basic level that we are losing the struggle.” Slow and steady wins the race, is what he’s saying. He was worried that the U.S. government was focused on giving instead of creating—creating a bond with the host country based on mutual understanding instead of bargaining over imported ideas and materials.

All in all, this was a fun read filled with lessons we can all learn from.

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