Publication Year



Literature, foreign policy, international relations, fiction, politics, American


Comparative Literature | Fiction | International and Area Studies | International Relations | Political Science | United States History


American foreign policy in these days of crisis and turmoil cannot be said to maintain sufficient consistency for a predictable future. The United States participates in the overthrow of a government in Chile, threatens to send Marines to the Mideast, willingly attempts to prop up a sagging, perhaps at this time sagged, Cambodian regime, yet decries that we are no longer an interventionist government. In the United States, policy makers are learning the Vietnam lesson. However, even now some speculate that we send insurgency forces to the Philippines to quell revolution in Mindanao.

This project is an attempt to analyze the lessons of diplomatic and military error through a creative juxtaposition of the disciplines of American fictional literature with historical governmental reactions to foreign policy decisions made in the period that led to the denigration of the American diplomatic service, the tragedy of Vietnam, and the crisis that could have made all of this meaningless, the Cuban Missile Crisis.

For purposes of focus, this paper will provide an analysis of three fictional works. The Ugly American and Sarkhan, both written by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick, and Fail Safe, by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler provide a narrow, yet realistic perspective of the three issues mentioned above.