Book Summary: Getting to Yes

Getting to Yes was written by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton.

This book was published originally in 1981 and since has been translated into 18 languages. It has been taught on several Universities including Harvard and Colorado University. Roger Fisher, a Williston Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard University died at 90 years of age in Hanover on August 25th, 2012. For over 40 years, he served as a professor at Harvard, where he established conflict resolution and negotiation as single field deserving academic study. Fisher joined the Harvard Law School faculty in 1958 and became a full professor of law in 1960. In 1976, he became the Samuel Williston Professor of Law. In 1992, he was named a professor emeritus. He also taught at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the London School of Economics, the Naval War College, Air War College, and the NATO Defense College.

The Harvard Gazette reported that Fisher told Ury that he liked his (Ury’s) paper so much he sent it to the assistant secretary of state for the Middle East, and wanted Ury to work with him.

“I was stunned. Never had I expected a professor to call me up, let alone invite me to collaborate, or see one of my ideas offered up for practical application,” said Ury. “Roger introduced me to the field of negotiation, taught and mentored me, and shaped my career more than anyone. It would be impossible for me to imagine my work without the inspiration and influence of Roger Fisher.“ Full article

The New York Times reported in his obituary: “In 1979, Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance went to Professor Fisher’s house on Martha’s Vineyard before the meeting at Camp David that would lead to a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. Professor Fisher suggested to Mr. Vance the “single negotiating text” method that was used to bring the parties together, said Bruce M. Patton, who wrote “Getting to Yes” with Professor Fisher and worked on many diplomatic projects with him. The strategy involved having President Jimmy Carter alone be responsible for writing solutions and letting the other leaders shape the treaty through a back-and-forth critiquing process.” Full article

The was the son of Katharine Dummer Fisher and William T. Fisher who each are descendants of prominent families in the legal profession. The ancestors of his mother were in the circle of Abraham Lincoln and his grandfather William T. Fisher advised Tuft as his secretary of the interior.

It is said that Roger Fisher’s passion for conflict resolution derived of the fact that four out of his eight college friends passed away during the World War II. Early on he decided to devote his life to find a way to prevent conflict and wars.

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