Sarkhan

The authors of The Ugly American wrote a sequel called Sarkhan.  The novel takes place in the same mythical country, although none of the characters from the first novel appear in this one.  The novel is a espionage thriller and it’s very entertaining.   Many of the themes from The Ugly American are present (diplomats must speak the native language, the power players in Washington don’t play well together, we refuse to learn from our past mistakes and we underestimate the value (in so many ways) of those who are not like us), but the authors did not add a factual epilogue to this novel.  This is just a great story.  One that, like the first one, also makes you think about how we interact with other countries.   My professional reaction to this novel is similar to my reaction to the first one:  I wonder how much we’ve improved in the forty-four years since its publication.  The boom in technology and communications, the end of the Cold War and globalization in general make our world vastly different from the mid-1960’s,  but the underlying criticisms in Sarkhan are still valuable lessons for us today.

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