THE CANDOR that characterizes so much writing today has yet to penetrate one particular literary convention - the acknowledgements that appear in the forward section of most books.
These acknowledgements are usually graceful statements of gratitude for assistance to the author, though, as anyone acquainted with the book-writing business knows, most authors harbor feelings other than gratitude, perhaps even serious grievances, concerning some of the people they encountered in the course of their labor. To set a standard for future authors, we offer the following prototypes of the candid acknowledgement:
One would have to turn to the bygone genre of the wartime fox-hole diary to encounter a book written under more onerous and harrowing circumstances. I refer, of course, to the hairtrigger bellicosity of my spouse, who missed no opportunity, and created many, to interfere with the progress of this valuable work. That it was completed at all suggests the need for a new category of National Book Award. As for the incessant whining of my brats, and their constant accusations of neglect, I will simply say that in this case, the issue of custody will not be raised. I trust that readers, especially reviewers for influential publications, will take these difficulties into consideration in evaluating the result of my work.
A note to my graduate students: In reading this book, the purchase of which is mandatory for successful completion of your program, you may notice that I have included, without identifying the source, whole segments from many of the research papers that you were required to submit to me. Since the present volume is protected by copyright, in my name exclusively, I trust that you will recognize the realities of the situation and cause no difficulty. That's the way it works, kiddies, and as your duly certified mentor I am giving you the opportunity to learn the game sooner rather than later.
Concerning the many persons who so kindly reviewed this work while it was in manuscript form: As you may recall, the manuscript was sent to you with the clearly stated request that you examine it for any errors of fact or interpretation, and that you notify me of such. For this service, I relied heavily upon all of you. It seems only fair, therefore, that readers recognize that any remaining errors are not the sole responsibility of the author. They are to be shared equally, if not more so, by the following persons . . . Special mention should be made of the foundation that provided funds for this project. It cannot be said that without those funds, this book would have been impossible. The amount provided was pretty paltry, a fact which is especially grating when one considers the crackpot ventures for which the foundation provides lavish support. The money provided a bit of flexibility, especially for a couple of nice trips with that nifty research assistant. But there is no doubt that, at best, it was of marginal value for getting the work done. This isn't to say that I'm not grateful. It's just that the matter should be seen in perspective.
Finally, a word about my department head, without whose interference and inane suggestions this book would have been better and completed considerably earlier.