Biography

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Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 468

William J. Lederer was born on March 31, 1912, in New York City, the son of William Julius and Paula (Franken) Lederer. He attended the United States Naval Academy, from which he graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1936. Lederer's main career was in the U.S. Navy, from 1930 to 1958. He retired as captain. During wartime he served in Asia and with the Atlantic Fleet. From 1950 to 1958 he was special assistant to the commander-in-chief, Pacific.

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After Lederer retired from the navy, he went into journalism, becoming Far East correspondent for Reader's Digest, from 1958 to 1963. He was author-in-residence at Harvard University, 1966–1967.

Lederer has written many books, including novels, short stories, and nonfiction on a variety of topics, during his long career. His best known work is The Ugly American (1958; with Burdick). His other novels include Sarkhan (1965; with Burdick) and I, Giorghos (1984). Ensign O'Toole and Me (1957) is a humorous look at life in the navy; A Nation of Sheep (1961) discusses how the United States could be more successful in its foreign aid projects. The Mirages of Marriage (1968; with Don D. Jackson) is an analysis of marriage in the United States. Other works include The Last Cruise (1950), All the Ships at Sea (1950), Timothy's Song (1965), The Story of Pink Jade (1966), Our Own Worst Enemy (1968; published in England in 1969 as The Anguished American), and A Happy Book of Christmas Stories (1981).

Lederer married Ethel Victoria Hackett in 1940. They were divorced in 1965. In the same year, Lederer married Corinne Edwards Lewis. They divorced in 1976. Lederer has three sons.

Eugene (Leonard) Burdick was born in Sheldon, Iowa, on December 12, 1918. He was the son of Jack Dale, a painter, and Marie (Ellerbroek) Burdick.

Burdick gained a bachelor of arts degree from Stanford University in 1942. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy and became lieutenant commander. He was awarded the Navy/Marine Corps Cross. After the war he studied in England and received a Ph.D. from Magdalen College, Oxford University, in 1950.

Burdick became assistant professor and then professor of political theory at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1950 to 1965. In addition to his scholarly writings, which included a book on voting behavior, Burdick wrote novels. His first was The Ninth Wave (1956), about a California politician who exploits fear and hatred. This work was followed in 1958 by The Ugly American, which he co-wrote with William J. Lederer. The book became a bestseller. Burdick wrote several more novels: Fail-Safe (1962; with Harvey Wheeler) is about the accidental triggering of a nuclear war; The 480, about the selection of a Republican presidential candidate, followed in 1964. In 1965, Burdick collaborated again with Lederer on another novel set in southeast Asia, Sarkhan (1965), which was published as The Deceptive American in 1977. Burdick's final work was the novel Nina's Book (1965).

Burdick married Carol Warren in 1942; the couple had three children. Burdick died on July 26, 1965.

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