The Ugly American, published in 1958, was a literary blockbuster that offered a powerful vision of how the United States should fight communism in Asia. Yet despite the textual simplicity of the novel, it had a complex and layered backstory. Its characters were not wholly fictional but were based on real-life models, whose work in Asia laid the backdrop for the novel's vignettes. Adding an additional layer of complexity, two of those models lived covert lives-one as a closeted gay man working with the Central Intelligence Agency (cia), another as a cia officer tasked with putting down peasant insurgencies-that belied their public images.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations