Daniel W. Drezner

If Book Acknowledgments Were Really Honest…

If Book Acknowledgments Were Really Honest…

Just before 4 p.m. today, your humble blogger handed in the manuscript for The System Worked: Global Economic Governance During the Great Recession to his publisher. Which means…

Now, book writing is a grueling process, so one of the things I save until the end is the acknowledgments. Now, of course, it’s fun to say thank you to people, especially when they’ve made your book easier to write or better to read. But it got me thinking: What if, like author tag lines, a foreign-policy book’s acknowledgments were just brutally honest? Here are some possibilities that came to me way too damn easily:

1. "I am grateful to Ted Feldstein, who wrote a really awful column about a year ago that was just the perfect straw man idea for me to take down in this book."

2. "I thank Margaret Collins, a titan in my field, who foolishly tried to write a policy piece that was an even easier straw man to take down. I expected this kind of thing from Ted Feldstein, but, Margaret, you gave this stupidity some heft, which is just awesome for me."

3. "I should acknowledge my editor, Cecil Longbottom, for sending me into paroxysms of guilt from even his most tentative queries about whether my book would be two years or three years late."

4. "I thank Timothy Bottoms III for his sage advice, especially since I blurbed his thinly sourced book a few years ago and, oh, now it’s time to collect."

5. "I am grateful to Louis Cooperman for having absolutely no game, awkwardly and drunkenly hitting on me at a conference, and then pretending like it never happened. This is the best explanation for his gushing referee report."

6. "The Pepzi Foundation generously supported this project, and I can only hope that they don’t read it, since I wound up in a very different ideological place after doing the research."

7. "Lily Romanova provided invaluable research assistance, and by ‘invaluable’ I mean I had to double-check her work and came damn close to pulling a Doris Kearns Goodwin cutting and pasting one of her memos."

8. "My colleague Michael Pfeiffer is a gasbag who never says a sentence when a long stemwinder will do. I’d like to thank him for finally reading my death stares accurately and staying the hell away from my office while I was working on this book."

9. "Joe McNiff is a tech support guy I yelled at for 10 minutes straight because I thought my computer had erased my files, when actually I had forgotten that I’d renamed them. I’m thanking him here as a pure act of appeasement."

10. "My family was my rock during the drafting of this book. And by ‘rock,’ I mean they guilted the living hell out of me while describing my book incorrectly — every … single … time — at neighborhood barbeques."

11. "I’m grateful to Peter Klugman, a Big Shot in my field who made a useful offhand comment to me once. People reading this will hopefully think I really know him and therefore be impressed."

12. "Neal Weisen is a hack writer who has no substantive knowledge about my topic but more than 100,000 Twitter followers, so people listen to him. My hatefire for him fueled this project."

13. "Helen Hiscox is smarter than me, better trained than me, and can write rings around my prose. I’d like to thank her for focusing her energies on other topics instead of mine."

14. "I would like to thank Vin Diesel, who made a God-awful film, The Chronicles of Riddick, that was playing late-night on HBO as I was putting this manuscript to bed. It was a galactically stupid film and the only thing my brain could process as it winded down from writing each night."

And, finally…

15. "Daniel Drezner is a senior colleague who, when I talked about this project, would start mansplaining it to me and close with things like ‘you should totally read this essay of mine!’ and then gave me a paper that was relevant — back in 2002. I’m thanking him because I want to get tenure."

Readers are encouraged to come up with their own ideas in the comments.