Eugene Burdick

Eugene Leonard Burdick (December 12, 1918 – July 26, 1965) was an American political scientist, novelist, and non-fiction writer, co-author of The Ugly American (1958), Fail-Safe (1962), and author of The 480 (1965).[1]

Early lifeEdit

He was born in Sheldon, Iowa, the son of Marie Ellerbroek and Jack Dale Burdick.[2] His father was a socialist who named his son after Eugene V. Debs.[3] His family moved to Los Angeles, California when he was four years of age.[1] One of his pastimes growing up was surfing.[3]

Education and early careerEdit

He was an undergraduate psychology major at Stanford University, but his graduate studies were interrupted by World War II during which he served in the United States Navy, after which he pursued his graduate studies at Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar in 1948.[4] He worked at the department of political science at the University of California.

Writing careerEdit

He first gained national attention as a writer in 1947 when his short story, "Rest Camp on Maui," which had appeared in Harper's Magazine, was the second prize selection for the O. Henry Award.[5] In 1956 his first novel, The Ninth Wave, was published, and was a Book of the Month Club selection.[6][7] At the close of the 1950s, he was among the first members of the Society for General Systems Research.[4]

Political viewsEdit

He was a Cold War liberal, supporting the Vietnam War, though he was critical of how the United States government went about it.[3] The novel The Ugly American portrayed American representatives were losing the battle for hearts and minds to the Soviet Union in the fictional Asian kingdom of Sarhan.[3] He also advocated nuclear disarmament.[3]

He was scheduled to speak in defence of the administration at the Berkeley Teach-in, but withdrew at the last minute, saying that those attending weren't interested in a dialogue.[3]


Burdick died in 1965 of a heart attack, while playing tennis, at the age of 46.[3][8] After his death, it was reported that he was a diabetic who struggled with chronic heart disease.[4]



  1. ^ a b "Papers of Eugene L. Burdick". Special Collections Department, University of Iowa Libraries. c. 2003. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
  2. ^ Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature - R. Reginald, Douglas Menville, Mary A. Burgess - Google Books
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Smith, Chris (2010). "Intellectual Action Hero". California magazine.
  4. ^ a b c University of California, Biography
  5. ^ Random House: O.Henry Stories
  6. ^ Encyclopedia of Surfing
  7. ^ Berkeley Daily Planet
  8. ^ "The New York Times: Tuesday July 27, 1965". Retrieved 2016-08-05.
  9. ^ Lederer, William J.; Burdick, Eugene (1965). Sarkhan. McGraw-Hill. OCLC 1061482.
  10. ^ Lederer, William J; Burdick, Eugene (November 1977). The Deceptive American. W. W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-08802-1. OCLC 3203901.

External linksEdit