Cornell University Press

A Farewell to Roger Haydon

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Executive Editor Roger Haydon is retiring. Here are some messages from those who worked with him and who would like to thank him for the impact he has had on their lives.

“Roger had been hinting about retiring for some months now, so learning that he would go through with it was not as big a surprise as were the emotions it stirred in me (and, I am sure, in others). Roger and I have worked together since, well, forever. My first book for Cornell University Press was also his first for CUP, and there was no stopping him once he got going. The entire field watched in awe as he built the most admired list of scholarly books on Japanese politics and history, bar none. Cornell’s Japan list could have been longer, but it would not have been as formidable had Roger not often summarily stopped authors with bad book ideas in their tracks—myself included. His defenestration of literature review chapters, his insistence that there is a difference between a preface and an introduction (I always needed to be reminded of this), and his refusal to follow fads in the discipline were just a few of the public services for which he deserves our gratitude. Roger inspired us with the breadth and depth of his intellect, and with his unerring capacity to get into an author’s head to set it straight. What more could an author or reader ask of an editor—or of a friend?”—Richard Samuels


“When I first sent the manuscript for what was to become my first Cornell book to Roger Haydon, he wrote me back that he liked it a “good deal.” It took me a few weeks to understand that this, in fact, was very high praise in Haydonese! When I pitched him the idea for my second book, years later, he wrote back that it was “fine.” By then, I knew that I had hit the jackpot.

Working with Roger was the most rewarding professional experience of my career. He has shown an early and sustained interest in what I had to say. He paid incredible attention to detail, language, and consistencies of argument. More than anything else – he gave me so much freedom. Our relationship was one of trust – I trusted Roger that he would be honest in his assessment, blunt in his critique, and generous with his time. He trusted me that I would take his suggestions seriously as they always made the work immeasurably better.

Roger and I published two books together. I wish I were a faster writer so that we could have done more. I will miss working with him dearly but wish him only joy and happiness in his retirement.” —Jelena Subotic


“As a first-time author, I could not have picked a better editor than Roger to oversee my book’s completion. Clear, meticulous, and dedicated, Roger possesses a rare combination of qualities that are indispensable for shepherding a manuscript through the dark tunnels and fogs of the publication marathon. Yet I appreciate most two of his other traits: his no-nonsense attitude and his quiet confidence in the process.

Thank you for having my back, Roger. It was a pleasure and a privilege to work with you and I wish you a restful, comfortable retirement.” —Stephen Riegg


“I feel very lucky that my book was published just before Roger’s retirement. I had heard so many wonderful things about him from other authors, so it was very exciting when I received that first email expressing an interest in my manuscript. He read the initial chapters I sent him with extreme care, and even before I signed a contract with Cornell I got the sense that he was really invested in the project and committed to helping me make it better. He was consistently straightforward, responsive, and enthusiastic. He was a wonderful editor, and it was a privilege to work with him.” —Kristen Looney


“I count myself very fortunate to have had the chance to work with Roger Haydon. What most people already know is that Roger has made an indelible mark on International Relations scholarship over the course of his career. But the why of it is what’s important. He sniffs out interesting projects. He challenges authors. In my case, he (correctly) made me rewrite my introductory chapter: “It doesn’t work for me.” He told me what was weak so that I could make it stronger. He was always available as a sounding board. And he has been a fixture in association conference book rooms – curmudgeonly, candid, and clever. I hope his retirement means that he will become emeritus rather than absent because it wouldn’t be the same without him.” —Tanisha Fazal


“I met Roger the first time at the International Studies Association Convention in 1999. I was searching for a publisher for my PhD dissertation. Patiently, he listened to my explanations why Catalonia and Bavaria were great cases to explore the impact of the European Union on the territorial structures of its member states. Roger asked several questions about why people without any knowledge about the two regions should be interested in my book. We had a great discussion. In the end, Roger told me that this was too narrow a topic for Cornell. But if I was ever doing something else on Europe with a broader focus, I should come back. Despite having been turned down, I felt encouraged (the book got published with Cambridge two years later). Every time our paths crossed, Roger asked me about my research. Five years ago, I told him about my book project on noncompliance with European Law. Again, he probed me on the relevance of such a book for a broader audience and asked me to write an extended outline with a non-European readership in mind. Other (European) university presses had expressed an interest in my manuscript, too. Even though – or perhaps precisely because – Roger made me revise my ideas and my research design several times, I decided to go with Cornell. I have never met an editor with such deep intellectual empathy, being able to grasp the gist of a scientific project and constantly pushing you to try harder to make your arguments and findings accessible to a broad readership. Roger’s expertise, instinct, and personal engagement have helped to preserve Cornell University Press as a gem in a changing publishing landscape.” —Tanja Borzel


“Roger Haydon helped me enormously. As a first-time author, I can’t imagine a better editor. He took the time not only to take my work seriously but to help me navigate this unfamiliar world. I have learned a great deal from Roger, not just as an author, but as a scholar.”—Theodore McLauchlin


“When I first started making the rounds with editors to discuss my book Crippling Leviathan: How Foreign Subversion Weakens the State, my goal was to place the project at a top press. Then I met Roger – and my new goal was to place the project with Cornell. Roger had smart comments and hard questions. That first meeting alone pushed me to make the book better. His guiding hand and eye for interesting and important books are evident everywhere in the Cornell catalog and on my bookshelves, which are regularly overflowing with Cornell books. I’m proud to count mine among them. I am not really sure how the scholarly community is going to manage without him. I wish him well in retirement even as I mourn the loss for scholars. Thank you, Roger, for the privilege of working with you.” —Melissa Lee


“Serving on the Cornell University Press board with Roger Haydon was one of the best, most stimulating (and fun) intellectual experiences I had at Cornell. Roger is a consummate, all-around editor. Concerning acquisitions, Roger knows the social sciences cold: he is astute, straightforward, demanding, and has outstanding taste. He sought manuscripts that dared to explore the unexpected or that pushed arguments in new directions. Quotidian manuscripts fell quick victim to Roger’s x-ray vision and incisive wit–both of which were legendary in the boardroom. But Roger is also a writer’s editor. One of his authors puts it like this: “Once you’re through the door, Roger is patient, demanding, and wonderfully supportive. He tailors his strategy and tone to the needs of each writer. Those fortunate enough to receive some line editing know just how lucky they are. Roger is a true pleasure to work with, particularly if one has a similar very dry—or is it wicked?—sense of humor. In my experience (writes this author), Roger is also highly tactful, as in, and I quote: ‘You’re all done. Congratulations! [pause] Now just cut 25,000 words.’”

Roger’s accomplishments will endure for a very long time.” —Isabel Hull


“I had the privilege of working with Roger as both a manuscript reader and an author. I was deeply impressed by his dedication, enthusiasm, and attentiveness. I appreciated his positive response to my review of a book manuscript under consideration by the press, and I am grateful for the encouragement and guidance he provided for my own work from a rough proposal to the published monograph. I wish him the very best in his retirement.” —Steven Ericson


“After I saw Dr. Martyn Beeny’s email, I sent a message to several colleagues, telling them that my book editor Roger Haydon was retiring. One of them who has long planned to submit her manuscript to Roger replied: “Lucky you” with a sad face emoji. Indeed, I was very lucky to have Roger as my editor. My book, originated from my doctoral research, has witnessed my struggles in the years after graduation. Job instability and teaching had constantly pulled me away from the manuscript. My desire to have a satisfactory manuscript conflicted with institutional expectations for rapid publication and quantity, with criticism from senior colleagues who saw my decision as a waste of time. There were moments when I doubted whether the manuscript would ever be published. After I finally sent out my manuscript, Roger replied in the email that he liked the opening story. He also provided suggestions on how I could improve my introduction. His email, without promising anything, strangely made me feel relieved. My book is just one of the many manuscripts Roger has overseen in his long career. But for me as a first-time author, Roger’s support meant not merely a book published but also the regaining of confidence for the path ahead.” —Jun Zhang


“More than thirty years have passed since I first encountered Roger, first by reputation, and then in person, and since that time much has changed and I’ve published two books with Cornell University Press thanks to his guidance and support. But throughout this time, it seems to me, one thing has remained the same: the awe—and anxiety!—his name inspires among scholars who haven’t been granted the privilege of working with him and the enduring gratitude of those who have had the pride and pleasure of doing so. Roger’s discerning judgment in matters of style, structure, and substance have made all the difference, for my books and, I’m sure for many others. Congratulations on your retirement, Roger—you’ll be sorely missed.” —John Sidel


“While I wish Roger Haydon all the best in his retirement, I am at least a bit resentful on behalf of all the CUP authors-to-be who will not have the benefit of his peerless editorial eye. My first attempt to squeak a manuscript past the Haydon gauntlet failed. The lengthy, thoughtful rejection letter he sent then, however, was among the kindest and most helpful I had ever received. That letter steeled my resolve to publish with Roger someday… and to my great fortune, I finally had that chance. Roger reads, engages with, and critiques manuscripts to an extent rare among editors. His genuine appreciation for the books he has published allowed him to suggest a couple that proved pivotal to my own analysis (when I’d stop by a conference exhibition-hall for a chat, and to affirm yet again that this year, my magnum opus was definitely imminent)—he’s also a superb salesman. My manuscript at last in hand, Roger proposed tweaks to the text (with an inimitable of-course-you-were-planning-to-do-that,-right? wry gentleness), then reassured neurotic me throughout an unusually protracted review process. That Roger thought my manuscript good enough to publish (this time!) remains its own source of pride. Roger: thanks for the encouragement, the tips, and the example you have offered, and enjoy your well-earned respite!” —Meredith Weiss


“I published my first book, Empire of Dogs, with Cornell UP in 2011. As a first-time author, I am grateful that Roger was the editor. As a consummate professional and veteran manager, he welcomed my manuscript, adeptly shepherded it through the review process, and effectively communicated with me. It is not too dramatic to say that my life—at least my career, livelihood, and everything related to it—hinged on the process being completed successfully and in a timely manner. Needless to say, the manuscript—an expanded and revised version of my dissertation that got its start as a seminar paper a decade earlier—meant a lot to me. The highlight of attending the annual meeting of the Association of Asian Studies in Toronto the following year was meeting Roger at the Cornell booth. It was an immense pleasure to meet him for the first time and to thank him for his efforts on my behalf. I was pleased to see him again five years later, again at AAS in Toronto in 2017, and confirm that I would eventually be sending another manuscript his way. We are now in middle of that review process. I am disappointed not be the executive editor when it is published (fingers-crossed), but his contributions will be duly and deservingly noted.” —Aaron Skabelund


““Curious is good.” A few years ago at a conference, I was at the Cornell University Press booth telling Roger about some new project ideas, explaining that I was still unsure about them and that I was mainly curious where my explorations might take me. Roger not only asked thoughtful questions, but urged me to keep exploring and keep being curious (and keep writing). That kind of attentiveness, kindness, and care for curiosity was typical of Roger’s work. While guiding my manuscript to eventual publication, he threw himself into my writings on competing nationalist movements in the modern Balkans, returning insightful questions and sharp observations about what struck him as unusual or unexpected. Having read a fair number of the Cornell books that Roger edited, I’m struck by the sheer breadth of his interests, about writings and places from Central Asia to the Maghreb. It’s no wonder that the books that he helped publish at Cornell mirror Roger’s own inquisitiveness, attentiveness to detail, and above all, curiosity about the world.” —Edin Hajdarpasic


“Roger was excellent to work with, he’s set an incredibly high bar for all acquiring editors in the field, and, though I’m happy for him, I am incredibly disappointed to hear that he is retiring.”—Paul Avey


“Roger has a reputation as one of the best editors in the business, and I am grateful to have worked with him on my book manuscript over the past few years. He has been extraordinarily patient and attentive as he shepherded my work from book proposal to contract to a soon-to-be-published monograph. He truly cares about his authors’ works, and it shows. I wish him congratulations on a legendary career, and I hope he enjoys a long and fulfilling retirement.” —Timothy Yang


“Here is my tribute: Roger made the world a more interesting place one book at a time. He believed in me and my project when few others did. He nourished my ideas and managed the ups and downs of the publication process with grace and dedication. Thank you. It meant the world to me. I will never forget.” —Marina Henke


“Roger and Cornell University Press has been a perfect marriage, leaving a huge family of grateful authors all over the world and many shelves of outstanding books, too large in number to be counted. I have watched and worked with Roger for 40 years. And I have always admired his many skills, enormous generosity, impeccable judgment, good taste, worldly shrewdness, and dry wit. I am deeply grateful for having shared this long journey with him and am looking forward to more frequent, leisurely, post-COVID lunches.” —Peter J. Katzenstein


“Roger Haydon has been an iconic figure in the field of security studies. Known for his dry wit and absolute adoration of large academic conferences, Roger was responsible for the publication of dozens of landmark books in the Cornell Studies in Security Affairs series. Roger has been no simple acquisitions editor. Rather, to his authors, he has been a mentor, friend, and more than an occasional intellectual sparring partner. I will miss pulling up to the Cornell booth at one of the regular conferences that we both attended and asking him, as I always have done, “So, what’s new and good?” His answer was always an insightful review of any number of fascinating titles that Roger had shepherded from idea, proposal, or dissertation into a successful monograph. The field will miss him greatly, as will I personally.”—David Edelstein.


“Roger managed to combine the critical interrogation of manuscripts with a wonderfully dry sense of humor and fantastic support for scholars throughout the publication process. There must be so many academics, like me, who benefited from this exceptional balance of qualities when publishing for the first time in these stressful times. I’m sure his colleagues will keep his spirit alive at Cornell University Press, but no doubt the place will not be quite the same without him. Happy retirement, Roger!” —Tom Scott-Smith 


*Featured photo by Maria Teneva.

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