Vintage Cover, Ugly AmericanThe best book on effective diplomacy ever.  The best book on how to read a report promugated by a government agency, a politician, or a newspaper.  The best book on why it is important to be culturally and historically aware.  Et cetera:

Is a work of fiction.

William J. Lederer’s and Eugene Burdick’s The Ugly American is an easy, entertaining, fast read–and a frame story, where each chapter can be read alone and picked up later.  This novel details the fortunes of U.S. diplomats in a exemplar state, “Sarkhan”, in Southeast Asia.  The novel looks in at the embassy, the battlefield, and in reconstruction and Track II diplomacy.  “Track II” is where non-diplomats interact with the people of a host state–agricultural experts, for instance. 

When this book came out in 1958, it created an instant dialogue and outcry for a new diplomacy from the U.S.   President Kennedy used the ideas from this book to develop the Peace Corps. 

Once read, it makes a non-foreign service public almost instantly literate in foreign affairs.  One thing to note: the word “ugly” covers a lot of ground, starting with an overweight & oily political appointee as diplomat to Sarkhan and ending with an engineer who’s physically unattractive but a man of techniques and skills.

Anyway, below the jump, there’s one phrase per chapter showing the lessons given in the book.  The main thing is to read it, laugh, weep, and get mad–and let it get you thinking.

Chapter 1: The dilemma created when a state that believes in a free media runs into host country criticism.

Chapter 2: Other, more advanced diplomatic training elsewhere as a medium for opportunities against one’s own state.

Chapter 3: The use of consensus to create initiatives in host countries.

Chapter 4: World travellers note the contrasts.

Chapter 5: Political appointees at their worst.

Chapter 6: A now-outdated recruitment scenario, that makes one think about recruitment policies overall for Foreign Service.  (This was one major change in U.S. Department of State policy that was influenced by this book).  Do these problems remain?  Read on. . .

Chapter 7: The glamour of the foreign post creates insularity.

Chapter 8: A little transparency goes a long way in public diplomacy.

Chapter 9: A lot of security measures are required.

Chapter 10: Talented mavericks (I’m still in love with Edwin Hillandale, although I doubt he’d ever be true).

Chapter 11: Using the enemy’s military tactics against them.  (I love Tex Wolchonok too.)

Chapter 12: A little straight talk.

Chapter 13: Perverting common sense.

Chapter 14: One’s own institution cuts a diplomatic advance at the knees.

Chapter 15: Less than fit for the formal meeting.

Chapter 16: Why him?

Chapter 17: Enterprise development, from the shiny conference table.  The large infrastructure project.

Chapter 18: Enterprise development, from the village view.  The small/medium infrastructure project.

Chapter 19: Meeting a need and honoring local self-help.

Chapter 20: The fact-finding mission. . .

And then an afterword.

Enjoy!  I always do.  My copy is battered beyond belief.