Education: The Articulate American

When William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick wrote last year's bestselling novel, The Ugly American (Norton; $3.95), they meant the title for the hero: a hard-palmed U.S. engineer working in Southeast Asia, who stood in sharp contrast to bumbling American officials abroad. A thesis writer might well peer into how the nation has curiously misused the title ever since. It has come to mean the very bumblers whom the authors denounced. The "Ugly American" is now a villain.

Overdue. Despite this irony, the book has roused the nation. All over the U.S. last week the "Ugly American" was being transformed into...