He is the son of Theodore Wood and Jessica H. (Merrick) Friend. He graduated from Williams College with a B.A. in 1953 and from Yale University with a Ph.D. in 1958. In 1960, he married Elizabeth Pierson, who died in 2003. They had three children: Pier Friend, Timmie Friend, and the writer Tad Friend.
He also chairs the review panel for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. In 2004 he served as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at the Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies.
- 1966 Bancroft Prize
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-04-07. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-11. Retrieved 2010-01-16.