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William Lederer

william lederer, william lederer author
William Julius Lederer, Jr March 31, 1912 – December 5, 2009 was an American author and naval officer


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Eugene Burdick collaborations
  • 3 Selected works
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links


He was a US Naval Academy graduate in 1936 His first appointment was as the junior officer of the USS Tutuila, a river gunboat on the Yangtze River

His best selling work, 1958's The Ugly American, was one of several novels co-written with Eugene Burdick Disillusioned with the style and substance of America's diplomatic efforts in Southeast Asia, Lederer and Burdick openly sought to demonstrate their belief that American officials and civilians could make a substantial difference in Southeast Asian politics if they were willing to learn local languages, follow local customs and employ regional military tactics

Yet, if American policy makers continued to ignore the logic behind these lessons, Southeast Asia would fall under Soviet or Chinese Communist influence The book’s epilogue argues for the creation of “a small force of well-trained, well-chosen, hard-working and dedicated professionals” fluent in the local language — not unlike the Peace Corps, which John F Kennedy proposed in 1960

In A Nation of Sheep, Lederer identified intelligence failures in Asia Having spent later years of his naval service as a public information officer, first at the Pentagon, then at Pearl Harbor Hawaii, where he was special assistant to Admiral Felix Stump, the US Pacific Fleet Commander In "Government by Misinformation" he investigates the sources he believes lead to American foreign policy:

  • Trusted local officials
  • Local foreign newspapers, magazines, books, radio broadcasts, etc
  • Paid local informers
  • Personal observations by US officials
  • American journalists

Other works were intended to be light-hearted and humorous fantasies His early works, All the Ship's at Sea and Ensign O'Toole and Me are both A children's book, Timothy's Song, with illustrations by Edward Ardizzone, appeared in 1965

William Lederer rose to the rank of Navy Captain

In Our Own Worst Enemy Lederer relates that, as a young Navy Lieutenant, Junior Grade in 1940, he had a chance meeting with a Jesuit priest, Father Pierre Cogny, and his Vietnamese assistant, "Mr Nguyen", while waiting out a Japanese bombing raid in China Father Pierre asked Lederer if he had a copy of the United States Declaration of Independence on his gunboat, and Lederer said that he did and provided them with a copy "Mr Nguyen" was eager to deliver the document to "Tong Van So" who later became better known as Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese Communist revolutionary and statesman who served as prime minister 1946–1955 and president 1945–1969 of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam North Vietnam The 1945 Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, written by Ho Chi Minh, begins by quoting from the American document This book describes how the United States supported a corrupt President Diem in South Vietnam, ignored massive black market selling of stolen US military supplies, food, and foreign aid, and refused to stand up to corrupt local officials who stole donated food and supplies, took kickbacks and bullied their own population, as we continued saying "It's their country, and we Americans are only guests here"

Lederer died December 5, 2009, of respiratory failure at the age of 97

Eugene Burdick collaborations

  • The Ugly American, 1958 co-author, with Eugene Burdick
  • Sarkhan: a Novel, republished under the title The Deceptive American in 1977

Selected works

  • All the Ship's at Sea, 1950 author
  • The Last Cruise; the story of the sinking of the submarine, USS Cochino, 1950 author
  • Spare-Time Article Writing for Money 1954
  • Ensign O'Toole and Me, 1957 author
  • A Nation of Sheep, 1961 author
  • , 1965 co-screenwriter
  • Timothy's Song, 1965 author
  • The Story of Pink Jade, 1966 author
  • Our Own Worst Enemy, 1968 author
  • The Anguished American, 1968 author
  • The Mirages of Marriage, 1968 co-author
  • Complete Cross-Country Skiing and Ski Touring, 1977 author
  • Marital Choices: Forecasting, Assessing, and Improving a Relationship, 1981 author
  • A Happy Book of Happy Stories, 1981 author
  • New Complete Book of Cross Country Skiing, 1983 author
  • I, Giorghos, 1984 author
  • Creating a Good Relationship, 1984 author


  1. ^ "William J Lederer Papers" PDF Special Collections & University Archives UMass Amherst 2013 Retrieved January 11, 2017 
  2. ^ a b Weber, Bruce January 14, 2010 "William J Lederer, Co-Author of 'The Ugly American,' Dies at 97" The New York Times Retrieved January 11, 2017 
  3. ^ a b Schudel, Matt January 10, 2010 "Novel 'The Ugly American' blasted policy in Southeast Asia" The Washington Post Retrieved January 11, 2017 
  4. ^ Meyer, Michael July 10, 2009 "Still 'Ugly' After All These Years" The New York Times Retrieved January 11, 2017 
  5. ^ Anna Der-Vartanian#Navy career
  6. ^ Halsall, Paul August 1977 "Vietnamese Declaration of Independence, 1945" Modern History Sourcebook Fordham University Retrieved January 11, 2017 
  7. ^ Lederer, William J; Burdick, Eugene 1965 Sarkhan McGraw-Hill OCLC 1061482 
  8. ^ Lederer, William J; Burdick, Eugene November 1977 The Deceptive American W W Norton ISBN 978-0-393-08802-1 OCLC 3203901 
  9. ^ "The Last Cruise" Goodreads Retrieved January 11, 2017 
  10. ^ "William J Lederer" Goodreads Retrieved January 11, 2017 

External links

  • New York Times Obituary
  • Washington Post Obituary
  • Answerscom Author's works
  • Government by Misinformation Review of Nation of Sheep
  • William Lederer, Secrecy in Government 1961

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