Acknowledgments are now a constitutive and almost compulsory part of academic productions. This essay, based on some 1,000 books in the humanities and social sciences, traces the sociogenesis of this academic genre. Focusing on the paratextual nature of acknowledgments, it examines the following questions: What do the lists of names in them mean? What effects are expected from these carefully written, or at least calculated, pieces? Acknowledgments reveal authorial strategies, the staging of a public persona, the pursuit or display of symbolic capital in a highly competitive world. But they can disclose more than that. They may also show a private person, depict an imagined Eden, recall a generosity. Acknowledgments involve a complex discourse. What they tell us is that the intellectual field is also a community, that in the “battleground” of learning there is a place for the gift, indeed that the giving of gifts still remains one of the means—perhaps even the principal one—of the advancement of learning.