Customer Review

1,973 of 2,044 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Common sense advice, but beware the unwritten chapter, November 7, 2005
This review is from: How to Win Friends & Influence People (Mass Market Paperback)
I won't waste your time with a rundown of what "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is about. With over 400 reviews on Amazon, with over 15 million copies sold, and with a very self-explanatory title, I think you all get it. For the rare person who may not know what this book is about, here's a succinct description: in 1930s vernacular prose, Dale Carnegie explains that by appealing to the other person's highest ideals, remembering the other person's name, letting the other person do most of the talking, speaking in terms of the other person's interests, allowing the other to save face, by "throwing down a challenge," etc., you can make a friend out of just about anyone.

The advice is largely sound, but I think the reader should keep in mind the context within which this book was written. "How to Win Friends and Influence People" was written in the 1930's and intended primarily as a companion book to Dale Carnegie's classes on how to be a good salesman. In other words, these techniques work very well in the context of sales and public relations, i.e., in relationships that are not expected to be deep and/or long-lasting. I wouldn't recommend using these techniques on close personal friends. Doing so may make a person come across as a bit "plastic."

Also, there is one major point that I think needs to be remembered, but unfortunately is nowhere to be found in "How to Win Friends and Influence People." During my research of Dale Carnegie's techniques, I came across what I believe may be the only biography available about him: Dale Carnegie: The Man Who Influenced Millions by Giles Kemp and Edward Claflin. This book reveals many interesting things, such as the fact that Dale Carnegie grew up poor; he lost part of his left index finger when he was a child; he often broke many of the tenets set forth in this book, often forgetting others' names, often arguing with others, etc. But what I found most interesting was that the last chapter of "How to Win Friends" was to describe those individuals with whom none of Dale Carnegie's techniques work. In this unpublished chapter, Carnegie wrote that there were some people with whom it was impossible to get along. You either needed to divorce such people, "knock them down," or sue them in court.

Why is that chapter absent from this book, you ask? Well, Dale Carnegie was in the middle of writing this chapter when he was offered a trip to Europe, and rather than complete this last chapter he decided to take the trip. The uncompleted book was sent off to publishers, and Carnegie shipped off to Europe.

Giles Kemp and Edward Claflin say that given the optimistic tone of the rest of "How to Win Friends," the European trip was perhaps the better choice. Reconciling the the unwritten chapter with the rest of this optimistic book would've been nearly impossible, they say.

Anyway, I think that this unpublished chapter is important to keep in mind. I had to learn the hard way that the unpublished chapter is very true. There are some people with whom it is impossible to get along. When you meet up with such people, and believe me you will, don't think that you've failed the Carnegie techniques. Instead, remind yourself that you are experiencing exactly what Carnegie describes in that pragmatic, unpublished chapter. And then quickly move on to the nicer people!
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Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 63 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 10, 2007 3:07:28 PM PDT
Great review Andrew.

Posted on Jan 14, 2010 11:41:22 AM PST
Rae_Jr says:
Thanks for your review. Question though... if the unpublished chaper is absent from the book, how does one go about getting a hold of it...? Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2010 8:53:22 PM PST
I don't think it's available anywhere. The only way I know about it is from the biography of Carnegie which I mention in this review.

Posted on Feb 27, 2010 2:30:30 PM PST
Travis Stein says:
I threw this book away a long time ago because I thought it was useless from the personal side of relations outside of work/business. With the book being so cheap, I likely will get it again in the future. I enjoyed your review though since it was honest and candid about what to expect from the book. I expected too much of a personal relationship guide (since I'm in college and not working atm) out of it and I was disappointed the first go around. Thanks for your review!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2010 10:56:59 PM PST
Thanks for the positive feedback. Yes, the book should probably have "in the Business World" tacked on to the end of its title. The Carnegie biographers write that one reason this book became such a huge success is because it was published in the midst of the Great Depression. During that era in particular it brought a lot of people great hope to think that all it took to become successful in business was to be nice to other people.

Posted on Apr 6, 2010 2:18:17 PM PDT
Thanks for the heads up about the missing chapter. While reading this book recently, I kept thinking of the reasonable people who will respond to these techniques versus the unreasonable (biased, exploiting the power dynamic, under the influence, mentally unstable, or what have you) people on whom these techniques would not work.

If the last chapter had been included, it would alert people to the fact that the other person shares in the responsibility for the interaction and relieve them of the burden of guilt for something over which they have no control. I'm glad that Carnegie wrote it, and that we at least know about it even if we can't read it.

Posted on May 6, 2010 11:38:18 PM PDT
Ig Le says:
Why do you think it you can become "plastic" if you do what this book tells with other people? In my opinion this book actually without any context, its just basics of lets say "how to be nice". If you want to be good salesman or good have good personal relationships with girlfriend/boyfriend there are other books, but "How to Win Friends & Influence People" is still worth to read, because the advices are so simple and common sense, that if all people would use them there would be far less conflicts i think :) And about some people you cant get along no matter what - thats total true. And if Carnegies advice was "divorce such people" he was totally right again. Why waste your time trying to do impossible :)

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2010 9:35:02 AM PDT
I wrote that this book would make you seem plastic if you use its techniques in "close personal relationships." Actually, this book would be unnecessary to use in close personal relationships. This book is about how to get people to like you; in close personal relationships it's a given that the other person already DOES like you. My point is: be realistic about this book; it isn't a book about deepening relationships, but a book about doing business, making the sale, etc.

Posted on Jul 17, 2010 2:35:49 AM PDT
An informative and wonderful review indeed!

Posted on Aug 7, 2010 7:08:25 AM PDT
Z'annae says:
Your intelligent review is like a glass of refreshing spring water. Thank you for sharing a lot of valid points from your thorough research. Very considerate of you.
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