Historical Context

(Novels for Students)

Marlon Brando as Ambassador Harrison Carter MacWhite in the 1963 film version of The Ugly American Published by Gale Cengage

The Cold War in the 1950s

During the 1950s, and continuing until the late 1980s, global politics was dominated by...

(The entire section is 988 words.)

Literary Style

(Novels for Students)


The Ugly American is an unusual novel in that there is only a loose connection between all the...

(The entire section is 207 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Novels for Students)

  • 1950s: In 1957, the Russians launch Sputnik 1, the first space satellite, thus inaugurating the space age. This event prompts...

(The entire section is 402 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

  • What was the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, and how did it lead to the Vietnam War? What are the lessons to be derived from the Vietnam...

(The entire section is 269 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Novels for Students)

  • The Ugly American was made into a film in 1962, produced and directed by George Englund and starring Marlon Brando as...

(The entire section is 37 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Novels for Students)

  • In Sarkhan (1965; published as The Deceptive American in 1977) Burdick and Lederer return to the fictional landscape of...

(The entire section is 358 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Novels for Students)


Abrams, M. H., A Glossary of Literary Terms, fourth edition, Holt,...

(The entire section is 459 words.)


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Ferrer, Hugh. “Notes on the Connecticut Yankee.” Iowa Review 36, no. 2 (2006): 168-175. Makes connections between Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) and Lederer and Burdick’s The Ugly American regarding American imperialism and styles of writing.

Hellmann, John. “Vietnam as Symbolic Landscape: The Ugly American and the New Frontier.” Peace and Change 9, nos. 2/3 (Summer, 1983): 40-54. An insightful analysis that discusses not only the novel’s reception and ramifications in American politics and writings but also the authors’ literary techniques and ideology.

Trumbull, Robert. “The Ambassador Who Didn’t Read Sarkhanese.” The New York Times Book Review, October 5, 1958. A contemporary description and evaluation of the novel.

Walls, Jim. “A Damning Indictment of Americans Abroad.” San Francisco Chronicle, October 5, 1958. A review of the plot and implications of the book.

Wilkinson, Rupert. “Connections with Toughness: The Novels of Eugene Burdick.” Journal of American Studies 11 (1977): 223-239. Discusses Burdick’s novels, including The Ugly American, providing a context for the novel and a foundation for understanding Burdick’s contribution to it.