OUR OWN WORST ENEMY

My Book Recommendation

Ten years after the appearance of The Ugly American, co-author Lederer has found, in contemporary South Vietnam, a harassed, humiliated, impotent American, victim of both the nature of American international policy and a corrupt, exploitative South Vietnam ruling clique. Personally witnessing shocking and frightening corruption in the detested government of South Vietnam, Lederer again makes the indictment implicit in the novel–Americans cannot help a country without knowing the country: the language, the aims of the people, the culture, and direction of self-determination. Lederer watched trucks of American military supplies crossing the Cambodian border at the direction of a South Vietnamese official, to be exchanged for Chinese goods; he saw battle-weary G.I.’s unable to buy the supplies they needed at a PX which openly sold costly diamonds. He saw black markets piled high with American goods marked “”PX,”” but a town ridden by plague was not visited by a medical team because of official disinterest. “”Top level”” interviews with American officials revealed that the government of South Vietnam calls the shots. Lederer has nothing but praise for the fine Marine CAP program, but its effectiveness is being weakened for lack of government cooperation. The author proposes, for the present dilemma, American control of all American supplies and programs; understanding of the total aims of the Vietnamese people; and a revamping of State Department thinking and practices. A personal experience with almost too neat a congruence with The Ugly American, but Lederer is not the first to make similar charges. Incendiary.

Pub Date: May 6, 1968

ISBN: 0393332829

Page Count:

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Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1968

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