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Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son Paperback – July 12, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Perhaps this book was a big hit when it first appeared in 1902, but it is preachy and unquaintly old-fashioned to the contemporary reader. Lorimer was an editor at the Saturday Evening Post, and this appears to be nothing more than a puffed-up piece from that magazine. The first "letter," written to Pierrepont Graham, a freshman at Harvard, by his pork-packing father in Chicago, contains all sorts of fatherly advice about college life, and what a young man should and should not do. But, as Pierrepont ages and goes to work in Dad's company, the homilies continue with few variations, and the folksy examples (one per chapter) of how not to behave, plus endless metaphors, become boring, and the book's conceit wears thin. There is much advice (indeed, that is all the book contains), but as Graham senior himself notes, it is the same advice that young men always hear. However, there are a few bright spots. Graham's rules for business conversation are useful and still timely: "Have something to say. Say it. Stop talking."
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

These fictional correspondences first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post and were collected into a single volume in 1902. With its portraits of small-town life, humor, and wisdom, this title was a huge success at a time when our country was a simpler place. Today, this serves as a sterling piece of Americana.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 122 pages
  • Publisher: Fili-Quarian Classics (July 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003YHBET2
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.3 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The PW reviewer got it wrong. This is a little-known gem, in its way as valuable as that never-outdated masterpiece, Edwin Lefevre's "Reminiscences of a Stock Operator". There are many people who've gone broke working for themselves or having given credit to others because they felt they had to, or who spent the fortune that they hadn't earned yet and never would, who could have used the advice in "Letters from...". It is very much not "the advice that young men always hear", especially now when Daddy can again buy them into the best schools, term papers are bought, credit is something to get as much of as possible and sloughing debt and emerging clean and bright in a new venture is just business. There is an attitude here that is quite foreign to the modern business-school-educated mind (but not to many successful in business), and a form of telling that has its own charm. If only for the swearing done then, and the realistic activities of the son who the letters are addressed to in the story that unfolds as it goes along, it's a fun read. But because the homilies are thickly spread throughout, it's the kind of read to not hog out on in one sitting.
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Format: Paperback
I read the editorial review from "Publisher's Weekely" and had to respond to their narrow minded critique. I found this to be a very informative and entertaining book, and I found the advice as relative today as it was over 100 years ago. Just because more than a century has passed since the publication of this book, it doesn't mean that principles of right and wrong have changed as well. The examples are obviously dated, but the principles surely are not. I will pass this book on for my son to read in the next few years in the hopes he may learn from it.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been reading this book (an OLD copy!) once a year since I was a senior in high school, at the behest of my father who was one of the wisest persons I've ever known. The old man exhibits a rare understanding of human nature, and is able to pack more common sense into every square inch than too many of us gain in a lifetime. I have found it to be a great gift for high school or college graduates, for young people trying to find themselves, for some older folks still grappling with some basic issues. A great book for your personal library, and to share!
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By A Customer on February 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My grandfather gave me a 1905 printing of this book and told me that, in his opinion, this was the second best collection of wisdom he'd ever read, next to the Bible. After a reluctant reading, I agree wholeheartedly.
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Format: Hardcover
I can truly recommend this book.
When I think of the callow young man I was, and how I was ten years after that, and even later, when I was nearing the end of my career, I can see that the advice that comes out from this narrative is of the best.

I think that there are two critical skills that distinguish business leaders from their underlings: I'm not talking about general intelligence or powerful ability in math.

The key skills are a good communication ability, rapport with others, and a strong grounding in common sense, understanding other folks.

You have to be a good communicator, but most important of all, you have to suss out the other fellow, know what he wants and why he wants it, and act accordingly.

G W Lorimer would have made a wonderful negotiator, politician, diplomat even. This is what he focuses on. Every scene in this book is a set-piece where someone tries to take advantage of the man with the money - his competitors, his kids, his family, his peers. Lorimer sees them all off.

On a personal note, this book made such an impression on me in the 1970s that I kept alive the hope of reading it again. This I managed to do, in 2009.

You can't offer a better a testament than that. Read the book 40 years on and it's still relevant. I rest my case.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm afraid the Publisher's Weekly reviewer didn't read the book very closely. In fact, he or she may have taken less time to read it than it's taking me to write this long review of it.

Published over 100 years ago, LETTERS OF A SELF-MADE MERCHANT TO HIS SON purports to be one-way correspondence from a nineteenth-century Chicago meat-packing tycoon to his son, who is being groomed to take a place in "the house" (meaning the firm). In actuality, the book was written by George Horace Lorimer (1869-1937), who was editor-in-chief of The Saturday Evening Post from 1899 until his death.

His fictional tycoon, John Graham, writes wise, serious, common-sense principles appropriate for anyone seeking to rise in a career. They're not stodgy or out of date; they can be translated into vital wisdom for any person today who has to deal with other people, in business or out of it.

But, along with that, I can't imagine a real meat-packer being so deliciously humorous.

The many proverbs about learning ("There are two parts of a college education - the part that you get in the schoolroom from the professors, and the part that you get outside of it from the boys. ... The first can only make you a scholar, while the second can make you a man"); about work ("It seems to me, on general principles, that a young man of twenty-two ... who hasn't got a dollar and has never earned one, can't be getting on somebody's payroll too quick. And in this connection it is only fair to tell you that I have instructed the cashier to discontinue your allowance after July 15. That gives you two weeks [not two months] for a vacation...
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