Tributes to Leo Rose


Leo Rose graced the Berkeley campus with his presence for some sixty years. Initially as an undergraduate, his graduate student years included serving as a Research Assistant for the India Press Digest and later as the Director of the Himalayan Border Area Project, and after receiving his doctorate as a member of the faculty and co-editor of the Asian Survey. I knew him for fifty-three of those years as a friend, a colleague, and as my next door neighbor. His distinction as a scholar will be discussed by others but I wish to emphasize the hospitality Leo offered his many friends over these years.

Leo's home was a way station for visiting scholars from all over the world but especially those from South Asia. An ambitious chef, his large dinner parties, frequently numbering twenty guests, often featured South Asian cuisine but he would also produce Mexican, Brazilian, Japanese, Chinese or European dinners with equal aplomb. His home was a center for scholars to gather and provided an important social ambience for the academic community of the San Francisco Bay Area and visiting scholars. His warmth and generosity will be remembered by his friends throughout the world.

Larry Shrader
Professor, Mills College, Oakland, CA.


Leo was much admired and greatly loved. He was to the academic manner born. His brother-in-law was dean of the divinity school at the University of Chicago and his sister was for many years head of the sociology department at the same institution. His niece is a curator at the Harvard art museum.

I first met Leo in London in 1956 at the India Office Library. We were both blessed with remarkable linguistic skills and devoted our first day in determining that a "chemin de fer" was really a train. But from this humble start we went on to further intellectual triumphs.

My wife and I were living in Cambridge at the time, and I remember Leo's first visit. His luggage included either a shrunken head (made of rubber) or a fruit cake. As it turned out, he had brought both with him, and from this macabre start began a lasting friendship. Leo was a fine cook and a lot of fun. He was also a good tennis player. Our bridge relationship ended when due to a failure to appreciate my qualities as a partner, he flung all the cards in my face!

On a more serious note, Leo was a distinguished scholar, specializing on the Himalayan region of the Indian sub-continent. He wrote extensively on India, Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim, as well as the Kashmir region of Pakistan. We wrote a book and several papers together, and although we usually fought like dogs, the experience was always exhilarating.

I know I am joining a large group of colleagues who will miss Leo very much. He was a marvelous person and a valued friend.

Robert A. Huttenback
Chancellor Emeritus
UC Santa Barbara


Leo was my friend and my boss, in that order. Doug and I first met him in Washington, and when we moved to the Berkeley area Leo was quick to welcome us with one of his signature Indian dinners. This, we soon realized, was standard practice.

Leo's hospitality was legendary. Let a new person enter his territory – a colleague, a visiting scholar, almost every South Asian who passed through the San Francisco area – and Leo started cooking.

His interest ranged well beyond the Himalayan kingdoms (his area of expertise) and South Asia in general, and was enhanced by his long tenure as editor, with Robert Scalapino, of Asian Survey. It was there that I came to work for him and stayed until we both retired – more than 10 years. I loved the job and Leo was a great boss – no micro-manager he.

He was always his same unflappable self. He didn't complain about physical ailments or much of anything else. After the loss of his wonderful house (and all possessions) in the Oakland Hills fire, he was hurting but didn't dwell on it – he simply bought and borrowed a few things and set off on a scheduled trip to India.

He felt strongly that Asian Survey should publish work by Asians writing about their own countries, and he always sought out and encouraged prospective writers as he traveled the region. His work and his travels gave him both enjoyment and fulfillment.

Still, I sometimes think he was never happier than when he cooked up a lot of food and had eight or ten people around his table eating, talking, and arguing. Leo most often would sit, saying little, just enjoying the scene. But let someone speak.

Myrna Pike


Remembering Leo,

With the death of Leo E. Rose, a friend of all who read these lines, the world lost one of its primary scholars conducting research in South Asia during the second half of the twentieth century. Leo was in many respects a polymath. No one knew more about who was working on what in this fascinating region of the world than he. He followed new generations of work in other Asian regions and states as well. No one knew more persons, scholars fledgling and mature or governmental and political leaders in the region, than he. No one knew more about the national and international politics of the states of South Asia than he. While Leo was low key, his knowledge was prodigious and spectacular.

My memories of Leo flow from many domains, but some of the most vivid come from the research we conducted together in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh on the domestic (and international) sources of policy making before and during the Bangladesh War – research that resulted in our book, War and Secession. This research involved our conducting numerous interviews, in which Leo's comfort in various cultural settings was ever evident. From Islamabad and Karachi, to New Delhi and Calcutta, to Dhaka and Washington, he even proved he could be puckish in these settings, especially once to my dismay in a midnight interview with a politically sagacious religious leader in Pakistan, and again in an interview with a preeminent leader, then out of power, in India. He was agile, of course knowledgeable, and ever at ease, all contributing I am confident to the substantial content and quality of the results. This research in all its dimensions, which we conducted mostly in tandem, was filled with fun, as was our joint preparation of the final product

His years of work in the region was evident as well when we traveled to Nepal on a much-needed sojourn from one of our non-stop periods of research. Leo's reputation, which bordered on reverence, preceded us. We were met by what seemed to be half the population of Kathmandu, and were invited to feasts by no less than half of that number. For one full afternoon and evening in the public rooms of our hotel Leo held court, meeting, as was expected and necessary that he do, with a long line of acquaintances, actual and hopeful, who sought his time and advice on a variety of matters. He extended both with patience and pleasure, and with a deeply felt sense of commitment and obligation. Impressive! Amazing! And I still harbor great envy from the reports of his access to well-aged burgundies and bordeaux during his periods of research in Sikkim and Bhutan – Latour and La Tache as opposed to my customary fare of Rosy Pelican and tea further south.

We all learned much from Leo, as others will continue to do, whether of democratization and political design (Democratic Innovations in Nepal), the foreign policy calculus of small states with big neighbors (Nepal: A Strategy for Survival), his other research on political change in Himalayan monarchies, and his work on foreign policy formulation, which continued later in his career through his contributions to the numerous international academic conferences in which he was involved in organizing at the University of California, Berkeley. His work was infused with sensitivity to historical precedent and context, and evinced his fascination with the constraints, interests and motivations, and calculations of principal actors and their perceptions of precedent and context as a source of cues in policy evolution, decision, and action. Leo stayed close to the ground, his work was filled with nuance, and is a model of thick description in his field, but he also provided for any discerning reader latent inferences that possess broad comparative applicability.

All who knew Leo were aware that he read widely and that he read rapidly, and at the height of his powers with uncanny memory. He had an acute mathematical intelligence, as anyone who ever played bridge with him can woefully or proudly, as the case may be, attest. But in his work he preferred words to numbers. His editorial eye and pen were among the most facile and fast I have ever encountered, perhaps helping to explain how he and Bob Scalapino could edit the Asian Survey with such minimal support but with such brilliant success for a period stretching across four decades. This is a major and a lasting achievement, and it is a major contribution to all those interested in understanding this extraordinary part of the world.

One never forgets those from whom they have learned. Nor does one ever forget such a gracious and steadfast friend as Leo. His life touched so many, and the memories for me, and for so many, will last.

Professor Richard Sisson
Political Science
Ohio State University


Sita and I met Leo in Kathmandu, Nepal in the spring of 1957. He was conducting research for his Berkeley Ph.D. Thesis, and we were visiting from Delhi where I was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Delhi and Sita was a student at Miranda House which is an affiliated college of the University. We were invited to Kathmandu by a fellow Fulbrighter, Jim Tuley, who was working with an architectural firm in Delhi. He left Delhi midyear to work with a University of Oregon Project funded by the U.S. Overseas Mission to develop educational facilities and programs in Nepal. Jim was designing and constructing a high school in Pokhra (We visited the school a few years ago, and it is doing good service). Jim and his wife, Ann, introduced us to Leo.

He spent several months interviewing Nepalese politicians, and the connections initiated at this time provided the basis for his long term relationships in Nepal. He took Ann with him on many of these interviews, and while she found them fascinating, it was not known how the presence of an attractive young woman influenced the responses of those being interviewed. There was a small group of American expatriates in Kathmandu (this was before the hippy invasion), and they spent a lot of time entertaining each other. Leo was exploring Nepalese cuisine, and his dinners usually featured strawberries floating on a whisky punch. Evenings were often spent with him drinking beer with the yet to be famous Russian expatriate, Boris, in the bar of the original Yak and Yeti Hotel housed in a former Rana Palace. The meals with Leo were prelude to the innumerable feasts he served to international casts during his years at Berkeley.

A couple of years after this visit, Jim Tuley joined the Architecture Faculty at Berkeley, and reconnected with Leo. We had returned to Stanford, and visits with the Tuleys reconnected us with Leo. This interconnection continued, when two years after we came to Berkeley, Jim designed houses on Grand View Ave. for Leo and for Larry Shrader, a fellow South Asian scholar out of Berkeley on the faculty of Mills College. We purchased a condominium Jim's firm designed, so were always in familiar surroundings during frequent gatherings of this clan.

Leo spent years studying Bhutan, and he was highly regarded by leading members of the government and by the Royal Family. It was decided that the youngest sister of the King should study abroad, and Leo urged them to send her to Berkeley. She was admitted, but where was she to live? Leo suggested our house, and the Princess did come to stay with us for an academic year. She was very interested in leprosy, because it was very common in Bhutan, so she took courses in Public Health and spent time with doctors working on leprosy at Letterman Hospital in San Francisco. After she returned to Bhutan, she established the Royal Society for Treatment of Leprosy and set out to survey the incidence of the disease in every corner of the kingdom. She was followed this with treatment and prevention programs, and now the country is essentially free of the disease. Leo's contribution to Public Health in Bhutan, while indirect, was due to his match making.

Five more Bhutanese students came to Berkeley during the 1980's, and they all graduated with good academic records and have responsible positions in the government. One of them is now married to the Princess. More recently, two members of the Bhutan Broadcasting System have spent a year in the School of Journalism. This is a critical time in Bhutan, because the King will turn the Throne over to the Crown Prince with the advent of parliamentary democracy in 2008. These former students will play important roles in this scene, so Leo's legacy lives on in unanticipated ways.

Others will discuss Leo's scholarly and editorial contributions, but an enduring memory of his friends is their participation in what might be called his Salon. He loved to cook and to share his productions with friends and visitors. The list of academics, politicians, diplomats and various other dignitaries from India, Nepal, and Bhutan who were guests at his Salon is lengthy and impressive. The discussions were deep and broad and sometimes heated. Leo's Salon is missed, and the campus is the poorer for its absence.

Leo's last few years were not happy. He was never quite the same after the loss of his house, library and artifacts from his travels in the Oakland fire. His physical and mental health faded. We were with him a few days before he died, and while his memory was ragged, we were able to reminisce a bit about old times.

The King of Bhutan is married to fours sisters, and two weeks ago the youngest Queen was with us because her son has applied to Berkeley, and they were visiting the Campus and we had a meeting with the Chancellor. I asked if she knew Leo, and while she never met him, she knew about Dr. Rose who is something of an icon in Bhutan. On our next visit to the Kingdom, we will set up some prayer flags in his memory. He would appreciate the gesture.

Watson M. Laetsch
UC Berkeley


For many scholars of Asia of my generation, it is hard to fully acknowledge our intellectual debt to Leo Rose. During his long tenure at Asian Survey he constantly encouraged, supported and prodded us to generate the best possible scholarship on contemporary Asia. Leo was an attentive, exacting and thoughtful editor whose knowledge of his craft and the region that he studied was beyond compare. He was a kind mentor, a generous friend and a meticulous scholar. For those of us who were fortunate to work with him his memory will live on thorough his scholarship, his warm-hearted hospitality and the many fledgling academics that he nurtured.

Sumit Ganguly
Tagore Professor
Indiana University


With the passing of Leo Rose, South Asian studies has lost one of its most knowledgeable observers. Leo was a kind and supportive mentor, colleague and friend. I will greatly miss his sense of humor, warm hospitality and truly superb culinary skills. No one could make a more delicious dish of dal and briyani than Leo. I am grateful that our paths crossed and that our lives touched. I shall always remember Leo with deepest admiration and affection.

Shalendra D. Sharma
University of San Francisco


I never knew Prof. Leo Rose as a "close friend" in the classic sense of the term, but he was certainly a mentor to me who helped cultivate my initial interest in South Asian politics and helped guide my subsequent academic career. I first took a "special research project" course with Prof. Rose as an undergraduate at Berkeley in the early-1990s. Over the next few years, I continued to interact with Prof. Rose in a variety of ways. I vividly recall him guest lecturing in a course on international relations in South Asia, and then, unexpectedly, inviting the entire class over to his home for a home-cooked dinner of Indian food at the end of the semester.

The two things that stood out about Prof. Rose was his always pleasant and warm personality, and his attention to empirical detail in his scholarship. The former was evident in all of my interaction with him, and the latter is seen in his nearly fifty years of groundbreaking scholarship on South Asia especially research dealing with the complex interstate relations of the region and also the domestic politics of its so-called "peripheral" areas.

My interaction with Prof. Rose's extended even beyond my undergraduate days at Berkeley. He also continued to guide me from afar while I engaged in my graduate course of study away from Berkeley at the University of Missouri. I can never thank him enough for the innumerable letters of reference he wrote on my behalf for various academic purposes both during my undergraduate and graduate years which helped open many doors of academic opportunity. I can also never forget the unexpected phone calls from him congratulating me on getting a fellowship, having a manuscript accepted for publication, or just enquiring periodically as to my progress in graduate school.

I owe Professor Rose a debt of gratitude for initially guiding me into the field of contemporary South Asia studies and, more importantly, for demonstrating through deed how to treat others with dignity and respect. I salute and thank Prof. Rose for all that he did for me personally and for the field of South Asian politics. Many of us cherish your memories.

Jugdep S. Chima, PhD
Associate Editor for South Asia
Asian Survey


Leo Rose's lifetime is a testimony to a renaissance person. I first knew Leo as a scholar at Berkeley. We were both at the Indian Press Digest Project headed by Margaret Fisher and Joan Bondurant, he as a faculty member and me as a graduate student researcher. He became a world-class scholar on Nepal and the Himalayan area including Sikkim and Bhutan as well as the Ladakh region of Kashmir. Beyond the roof of the world, his scholarship included a book on Bangladesh with Richard Sisson, and numerous articles on international relations. Diplomatic endeavors in Washington, D.C. as well the Soviet Union provided a practical side to his scholarship.

We also began a several decade series of tennis matches in which he consistently had the edge. Subsequently, after I joined the University of Missouri, my wife Robin and I would stay with Leo during our northern California visits. His hospitality included gourmet meals – international cuisine from a variety of cultures – he personally prepared just for us or for a large company of friends. Fire destroyed his Berkeley home resulting in his move to Oakland. There, he continued his scholarship and his hosting of people from all over the world.

In India, I very much became aware of the high regard Indian scholars had for him. His own scholarship as well as editing Asian Survey provides a partial explanation for his reputation. Equally important are...were his human qualities. At the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in Delhi, the scholars there learned about Leo being in New Delhi. I phoned him, at their request, emphasizing that the scholars at the Centre wanted to meet with him. Although jet lagged and very tired, he agreed. We used the Centre van to pick him up for a luncheon at a Chinese restaurant near the Centre. Friendly, personal relations marked this occasion.

Leo Rose will always be with me in terms of his scholarship, tennis, exotic meals, political arguments, and good fellowship.

Paul Wallace
Professor Emeritus of Political Science
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO