Carnegie, Dale -Publishers — Simon and Schuster, New York, copy right 1936
How to Win Friends and Influence People is a phenomenon of the self help genre. Study its lessons if you want to influence people, the damn stuff works — but in God’s name, please don’t use it as advice on how to make friends or, heaven forbid, as guidance for anything beyond the narrowly professional.
For at the heart of this book lies a moral lacuna, an inversion of the ethical hierarchy that if followed is at best, a recipe for unhappiness, at worse a blueprint for a destructive amorality.
It is I must add, a painful read, dated, micawberish, and repetitive; and yet…… many of its lessons endure, remaining, despite itself, a fascinating publication, both for what it gets right and for what it gets wrong.
In 2011, Time Magazine put it at no. 19 in its top 100 most influential non fiction books of all time and a 2012 Library of Congress survey identified Carnegie’s volume as one of 88 books that shaped America, alongside Slaughter House-Five, Grapes of Wrath and Invisible Man.
No less a man than Warren Buffet, claims Carnegie’s philosophy as an influence, crediting it with giving him the confidence to overcome his terror of public speaking and instilling in him the chutzpah to woo the woman who would eventually become his wife.
Other famous graduates of the Dale Carnegie Training course, that inspired Carnegie’s book, include, President Lyndon B Johnson, Walmart Founder, Sam Walton, Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca and former Speaker of the House John Boehner.
The book’s conversational style, bulleted chapter summaries, relentless optimism and exaggerated promise, presage the structure and form of the modern self help book. It is hard for example, to imagine books like the Power of Positive Thinking and Awaken the Giant Within without Dale Carnegie’s original volume.
It is in part because of this, that How to Win Friends… continues to ricochet its way through popular culture, popping up in unexpected places. The title…