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Self-Help Messiah: Dale Carnegie and Success in Modern America Hardcover – October 29, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Other Press (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590515021
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590515020
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The man whose bestselling How to Win Friends and Influence People defined 20th-century American normalcy was a deeply subversive figure, according to this penetrating biography. Historian Watts (The People's Tycoon: Henry Ford and the American Century) follows Carnegie as he abandons his family's rural poverty and rock-ribbed Protestantism to become a salesman, actor, theater impresario, Lost Generation novelist, and educator who developed his public-speaking courses into a prescription for psychological renovation and a template for later self-help therapies. Along the way, the author argues, Carnegie embodied and promoted a revolutionary shift from a Victorian code of stern morality, hard work, and self-denial to a modern ethos that locates success in a pleasing personality, a canny stroking of other people's egos, and the pursuit of self-actualization—with implications both liberating and sinister. (A new biography of mass murderer Charles Manson notes his use of manipulative ploys gleaned from a Dale Carnegie course.) Watts situates Carnegie's story in a rich account of the dawning age of consumerism, mass entertainment, and a new business culture centered on salesmanship and smoothly meshing corporate bureaucracy, rather than rugged individualism. Watts's lucid prose and shrewd analysis gives us an absorbing portrait of Carnegie and the America he both reflected and shaped. Photos. (Nov.)

From Bookforum

As Steven Watts suggests in his new biography, Self-Help Messiah: Dale Carnegie and Success in Modern America, the conventional wisdom business guru presaged many of the bedrock concepts of the information economy. —Ann Friedman

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Malcolm G. Pittman, Jr. on January 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover
A very thorough and readable description of Carnegie's life, career, and books, though parts of it read like an admiring Saturday Evening Post article, and the book could have been 100 pages shorter if half of the predictable anecdotes and student endorsements had been omitted. The author seems to generally endorse Carnegie's self-help message, but there is a very interesting chapter describing contemporary criticisms by Sinclair Lewis, James Thurber, and others.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Matt Norman on December 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Watts captures a full and authentic picture of Dale Carnegie though takes too much liberty with religious metaphors and connections. The book not only details the life of this important modern figure but provides a historical context for the evolution of the keys to success over the past two centuries in business.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jim Rohrbach on December 4, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This in-depth biography of Dale Carnegie gives you more than you ever thought there was to know about the man who taught millions how to win friends and influence people. Dale Carnagey (who later changed the spelling) was born into an impoverished rural family in northwestern Missouri. The book details how his life experiences, from endless farm chores to traveling salesman to actor, inspired his later life’s work of sharing principles of interpersonal effectiveness. Carnegie realized that, much like Ben Franklin, he needed to apply these principles to himself to achieve the success he craved.

He began humbly by teaching a class in public speaking at a New York City YMCA back in 1912, which evolved over time into more extensive human relations trainings. These have morphed over the decades into the sales, leadership and communication courses of today’s global Dale Carnegie Training. So his ideas have stood the test of time to say the least.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Julie Salgo on February 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Going through the Dale Carnegie course long ago and becoming a Graduate Asssitant many times, I thought I knew Dale Carnegie, the man. I was wrong. Finally we have access to his fascinating life, not only what he talked about in his classes openly but some other aspects he may not have ben too proud of, during his life. I think all thiose struggles and falls added to his wisdom. His life in Europe is especially interesting. Lovely book even the look of it.
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