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on April 29, 2005
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 This is a little-known gem, in its way as valuable as that never-outdated masterpiece, Edwin Lefevre's "Reminiscences of a Stock Operator".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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on July 28, 2006
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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on December 3, 2002
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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on February 4, 2000
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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on March 12, 2010
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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on March 31, 2012
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..."); and about life ("I don't just place Miss Dashkam, but if she's the daughter of old Job Dashkam, on the open Board, I should say, on general principles, that she was a fine girl to let some other fellow marry")- these proverbs are interlaced with tales - tall ones, perhaps, about himself, about people he hires, about people from his past. The further into the book, the longer and funnier these tales are.

The whole thing made me think of Mark Twain and of Will Rogers, with a little of Bill Cosby thrown in. The story about the first "college man" Graham ever hired has a wonderfully dry style, as he describes the fellow who kept losing his job and increasing his salary. The story of the greedy church deacon who wanted to look respectable while dabbling in speculative investing is a hoot. And the remarkable tale of the rich, wimpy young man who proposed to three girls is a laugh-out-loud one.

I will warn interested readers that this 110-year-old book is politically incorrect in certain ways, and contains occasional words and terms you certainly wouldn't want to repeat. But, like the cursing and bathroom words in today's books, they need to be skipped over as much as possible. I simply mention this in a general way... (and if you want to find out why I added that, you need to read the book.)
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on August 22, 2014
got it for my boyfriend since he started getting into stocks, financing and etc... it's actually a fiction piece (did not know that lol!) but he enjoyed it and he took a LOT of notes from it. Really good quotes to live life with
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on July 1, 2014
There are some interesting pieces of advice here, but unless you are interested in the historical context the subject matter is too focused on the reality of the day and not very useful in today's world
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on July 9, 2014
This is one of my top business books. While the examples are dated, the advice is useful. Most modern business books irritate me by claiming to teach "new" techniques, yet almost all "new" techniques can be found in this 1902 book.
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on June 28, 2002
This book is good for the High School Graduate because the simple metaphors and stories make this book clear in a world full of obscur rules and references. I liked this book because it did speak in straight forward terms. An older audience may see this as a dribble of old advice, but to a younger man this is new wisdom.
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