At times we see Lansdale as the arrogant ""ugly American,"" full of confidence that he has every right to make the world in his own image and utterly blind to his own cultural condescension. This is the Lansdale who would use any conceivable gimmick to serve U.S. aims, from rigging elections to sugaring communist gas tanks. Elsewhere, however, he seems genuinely respectful of the cultures he encounters, open to differences and new possibilities, and willing to tailor American interests to Third World needs. Rather than attempting to reconcile these apparently contradictory images of Lansdale, Nashel explores the ways in which they reflected a broader tension within the culture of Cold War America. The result is less a conventional biography than an analysis of the world in which Lansdale operated and the particular historical forces that shaped him - from the imperatives of anticommunist ideology and the assumptions of modernization theory to the techniques of advertising and the insights of anthropology.
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Jonathan Nashel is associate professor of history at Indiana University, South Bend.
"An original and insightful work, combining the approaches of cultural and diplomatic history in ways that finally reveal the real and symbolic significance of Edward G. Lansdale's Cold War work. While many others have treated Lansdale as emblematic, Jonathan Nashel is the first historian to carefully connect his words and deeds to the national mission he represented." - James T. Fisher, author of Dr. America: The Lives of Thomas A. Dooley, 1927-1961; "The strength of Nashel's work is the complexity of his Lansdale profile. Not a standard biography, it seeks to assess Lansdale's career and image in relationship to the events and culture of the Cold War. In addition to attracting scholars in the fields of foreign relations, American studies, cultural history, and Vietnam War history, it will appeal to many general readers of modern U.S. history and biography." - Christian G. Appy, author of Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides"
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