RPCV Writer Michael Meyer (China 1995-97)

In the Sunday’s Book Section  of The New York Times there is an essay on the book that ‘launched’ the Peace Corps: The Ugly American. This novel, written by William Lederer and Eugen Burdick in the late Fifties, stirred Kennedy and others in JFK’s administration into new international action.

This essay in the NYTIMES on this infamous book is written by one of the China Gang of PCV writers, Michael Meyer (China 1995-97), author of The Last Days of Old Beijing. In his essay, Meyer writes, “The Peace Corps is not a panacea, but when it comes to projecting America’s values abroad, its spirit comes closest to what the fictional Homer Atkins advocated decades before that global symbol of a different kind of ugly Americanism, Homer Simpson, told his children: “You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”

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  • BTW, I am perfectly aware that TV blows away all other culture, and I love the Simpsons as much as anyone–but for the benefit of cultural memory, the name Homer Simpson was originally used for the hapless subhero of the wonderful Nathanael West “Day of the Locust.”

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