Customer Reviews: 50 Success Classics: Winning Wisdom For Work & Life From 50 Landmark Books (50 Classics)
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In both this volume and in 50 Self-Help Classics, Butler-Bowdon has selected and then provided a rigorous examination of carefully selected works which have had, for decades, a profound impact on those who read them and then applied the principles which their respective authors affirm. In this instance, "winning wisdom" to apply in one's life and work. There are several reasons why I hold this volume in such high regard. Here are three.

First, Butler-Bowden has assembled excerpts and focused on key points from a wide variety of works which include (with authors listed in alphabetical order, as in the book) Horatio Alger's Ragged Dick, Andrew Carnegie's Autobiography, Jim Collins' Good to Great, Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich, Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom, Thomas J. Stanley's The Millionaire Mind, Brian Tracy's Maximum Achievement, Sun Tzu's The Art of War, Sam Walton's Made in America, and Zig Ziglar's Meet You at the Top. Obviously, some of this material would also be appropriate for inclusion in 50 Self-Help Classics.

Second, I appreciate the fact that Butler-Bowden also enables his readers to focus on issues of greatest interest to them by suggesting combinations of selections within these four categories:

Motivation (e.g. Tom Hopkins' The Official Guide to Success)

Fulfilling your potential (e.g. Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz's The Power of Full Engagement)

Prosperity (e.g. Russell H. Conwell's Acres of Diamonds)

Leadership (e.g. Warren Bennis' On Becoming a Leader)

The diversity of Butler-Bowdon's primary sources even within the same category is indeed impressive.

Third and finally, he makes clever use of a number of reader-friendly devices throughout his narrative, such as "In a nutshell," "Final comments," and a brief bio of the author at the conclusion of each selection. I also appreciate the inclusion of brief quotations wherever they are most relevant.

In the Introduction, Butler-Bowdon observes that "When we think of success writing it is often the motivational classics that first come to mind, and the titles in this [volume] represent the historical development of the genre....While all of the books have been bestsellers [and many continue to be], the main criterion for their inclusion was their impact and renown, or whether they filled a niche in terms of a particular subject or person....The leaders discussed are not specific markers for your own success -- it is generally not a good idea to compare yourself to other people -- but their stories illustrate a `way' of success that anyone can follow."

I agree with Butler-Bowdon that each person seeking success (however defined and measured) must assume primary responsibility for being and doing whatever is required to achieve it. However, most of those who share or are the subjects of the success "stories" in this volume have duly acknowledged the assistance provided to them along the way by family members, friends, allies, and in several instances, benefactors.

Butler-Bowdon realizes that he is providing "only a taste of the literature (the main ideas, context, and impact of each title)" while urging his readers to "feast on the real thing." What he offers is by no means a buffet of entrepreneurial "hors d'oeuvres." On the contrary, the content is solid and skillfully presented effectively. I am convinced that many of those who read this book will then be encouraged to read (or re-read) "the real thing." If Butler-Bowdon's efforts accomplish nothing else, that will indeed be sufficient to earn the praise I think he has earned...and justly deserves.
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on March 5, 2004
Butler-Bowdon has done most of the legwork for you. He has spent the last five years of his life researching, compiling and "nutshell"ing these classics. His list of 100 spans both his two works with 50 Success Classics and 50 Self-Help Classics and is complete in every sense. When I first looked at the cover of "50 Success Classics" (50SC) I noticed that Steven Covey's name was on the cover again. This struck me as strange because "7 Habits..." was already reviewed in 50 SHC as a self-help book and yet it returns as a success classic. On page 91, Tom explains his reasoning for the inclusion of both. "50 Self-Help Classics outlined the seven habits of the book, while this commentary goes beyond the habits themselves to explore Covey's idea of a successful person." As an avid reader of Covey I would tend to agree with the inclusion in both books. Tom did not miss the mark by highlighting one of Covey's main points; an "unchanging core of personal principles..."
Overall, I tend to favor this book, simply because of the introduction; the characteristics of successful people. It establishes the reader by quoting applicable authors in the sub-categories. Both books are indispensable for finding the true jewels of the self-development genre or as Tom puts it "the literature of possibility".
Even after all the efforts of Mr. Butler-Bowdon, this is still in my mind baby food. He has done all the hard work. He has chewed the food and given us the meaty morsels from the material. For true development use this book as a road map for the classics that pertain to your drive through life. That, in my opinion, is the true value of these works. The author, he isn't closed off like some. I emailed Tom and he was extremely prompt in a reply and answered my questions fully. How could a man who has been surrounding himself with such literature be any different? Buy these books to find the jewels, which will help you, chew your own food.
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VINE VOICEon August 9, 2006
Truly, this is a great condensed volume of success advice. Butler-Bowden does the hard work for you, and in one volume you get the "meat" of 50 books. And, these 50 are some pretty hefty books. Some contemporary, some classic, but all contain valuable kernels of information that Butler-Bowden has already sussed out for you. The author includes a brief biography of the authors of the books he has chosen, and in many instances, those stories are just as inspiring.

I really enjoyed being reminded of "The Inner Game of Tennis". I read that book a long, long, time ago and 20+ years later, I have used the information time and again. Perhaps this little book helped make me a lifelong self-learner. I'm pretty sure it helped me be a better parent, teacher and manager.

For fans of success and achievement books, some of these selections are like old friends you need to get in touch with, and many will probably be new stories you'll grow to love.

If, on the other hand, you are a new student of success, seeking a meaty source for success education and information this is definitely bang for your buck. It might inspire you to read some of the "whole" books, but even this condensed "cram session" will leave you inspired and informed.
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on October 28, 2006
50 Self-Help Classics: 50 Inspirational Books to Transform Your Life, From Timeless Sages to Contemporary Gurus

50 Success Classics: Winning Wisdom for Life and Work from 50 Landmark Books

50 Spiritual Classics: Timeless Wisdom from 50 Great Books on Inner Discovery, Enlightenment and Purpose

In the first instance, I have bought these three books in one go because I have been fascinated by what the author had done: He has practised what is known as the highest level of reading. Mortimer Adler, in his classic book, 'How to Read a Book', written in the forties, had called it 'syntopical reading'. It's actually reading a number of books of the same genre, more or less simultaneously & then synthesising the key points.

Secondly, the author, who is a graduate of the London School of Economics, somehow impresses me with his ability to synthesise the big picture of each of the books that made up the entire collection. For apparently a left-brain thinker i.e. economist by training, this has been a very remarkable feat, as his synthesising endeavour has been essentially more of a right-brain activity. Well, I must compliment him for a job well done.

Before my final decision on buying the three books, I have been thrilled by the prospect of reading three books, which in turn will give me access to one hundred & fifty books.

For each book, the author has very artfully as well as skillfully selected fifty books to made up one collection. I may not agree with his selection, but I must admit that I can't default him at all.

Take the first book, '50 Self Help Classics', with timeless wisdom, as an example. Out of the fifty books he has selected, I have read only seventeen of them. I have those books in my personal library.

For the second book, '50 Success Classics', I have read & still own sixteen of the landmark books on winning wisdom selected by the author.

For the third & final book, '50 Spiritual Classics', covering timeless sages & contemporary gurus, I have read only & still own three of them, namely 'The Tao of Physics', 'The Way of the Peaceful Warrior' & 'Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'.

For those books I have read previously, totaling thirty-six of them (probably stretching over three decades of my life), & upon revisiting them again in the trilogy, which actually took me one whole weekend to complete, starting on Friday evening & finishing on Sunday night, I must say that the seemingly marathon reading experience has been very refreshing & uplifting. It has also given me the opportunity to check & verify whether the author has captured the key ideas or essence of those books. I don't think I can find fault with the author in this respect.

Not only that, in the first book, I am very impressed that the author has cut through the bewildering array of choices to bring the essential ideas, insights, and techniques from the `literature of possibilities'. In works that span the world's religions, cultures, philosophies, & centuries, he summarizes each work's key ideas & finally makes clear how these legendary classics can educate, affirm, & motivate anyone searching for the inspiration to make a meaningful life change.

In the second book, the author is back with his wide-ranging collection of enduring works from pioneering thinkers, philosophers, & powerful leaders, like Napoleon Hill, Stephen Covey, Kenneth Blanchard, Baltasar Gracian & Christopher Maurer; from the inspirational rags to riches stories of such entrepreneurs, like Andrew Carnegie, Warren Buffet & Sam Walton to the leadership lessons of Sir Ernest Shackleton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln & Nelson Mandela, just to name a few.

In the third book, I believe the author has captured the very best in spiritual writing: They include personal diaries & compelling biographies of such diverse figures as Gandhi, Malcolm X, & Black Elk & Eastern philosophers & gurus including Krishnamurti, Yogananda, Chögyam Trungpa & Suzuki; & Western saints & mystics such as St. Francis of Assisi, Herman Hesse & Simone Weil. For each book in this volume, the author offers insightful commentary on how these classics can help spiritual seekers everywhere bring personal beliefs, values & practices squarely into the center of their every day lives.

Reading the three foregoing books has been quite a breeze because the meaning of each work is initially captured 'in a nut shell' at the onset, coupled with a representative quote as well as cross-referencing to similar work. In each work, appropriate sectional headings in bold print make it really easy for the reader to follow the author's train of thoughts over some six pages. There is also a short biographical sketch of the author of the respective work.

I must admit that the third book in the trilogy has been the most challenging for me to read as I normally do not go for such stuff. To put it bluntly, it's not my cup of tea. On the other hand, the curiosity streak in me has been too overwhelming, since I relish the thought that I could read fifty spiritual classics in just one book!

Overall, & for all those books I have not yet read at all (some of which I have not even heard of), I really enjoyed digesting the author's bite-sized summaries (in actuality, they are only the main ideas, context & impact of each title, to give a taste of the literature, so to speak) in the three collections or volumes, even though some of the titles are relatively esoteric for me. The entire reading journey has been enlightening, inspirational & yet humbling in some areas. Best of all, there are useful tools & practical techniques to take away from each collection!

For the first & last book in the trilogy, namely, '50 Self Help Classics' & '50 Spirtual Classics', the author has respectively provide a list of additional 50 books. The titles are certainly enticing! Well, all I can say is this: I wish the author will repeat his syntopical reading exercise covering these books & add two more volumes, that will make a quintulogy, for all the readers out there, including me!

As usual, all my three books are now scribbled with my own hand-written marginal annotations as well as my fancy colour marker symbols. Additionally, there are also colourful sticky notes in between selected pages. My next personal assignment is to transfer all these notations into mindmaps with Mindmanager Pro.

To end my review, I have one last humble comment to make. Out of the one hundred & fifty bite-sized summaries, I still don't quite get it from 'The Bhagavad-Gita' as outlined in the author's '50 Self Help Classics'. I have not read this work before although I have heard about it. [J Y Pillay, former Chairman of Singapore Airlines, who is credited for building the airline to what it is today, A Great Way to Fly, has vouched for this ancient Hindu scripture as an inspiration for his leadership success during an interview.] However, in the same vein, I found that I could relate quickly to Deepak Chopra's 'The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success' but simply not this one! I may have to explore other avenue.

In site of the above minor short-coming, I strongly believe that the three books in the author's trilogy are really an intellectual treasure!
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on January 9, 2008
This is the first Butler-Bowden book I bought (audio cd), and I bought it on a lark. I appreciated it more than many of the more expensive "success" audio books I bought. It has wonderful breadth, and I've since bought many of the books it covered as well as the print form of the audio CDS (so I can highlight sections!).

Kind of gimmicky, I'll admit, but I found it quite useful! I've since listened to / read several of the books that are covered, and found that I've gotten as much from this overview than I did from the full material. Mostly.

I'd recommend this, as well as some of the other 50 X series by this author.

That being said, I'd say that I found only 35 or so of the 50 books interesting to me personally.
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on February 11, 2004
When I first saw the book, I presumed it would just be another motivation book. I was pleasantly wrong! 50 Success Classics has managed to gather notable wisdom concerning different aspects of success in a highly understanding manner.

Its idea of gathering profound yet lucid works of wisdom is highly original. Even more is its summaries of the works. The book talks to you - not at you. Needless to say, I couldn't put it down until I finished the last page. Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon March 25, 2016
First off, in my opinion, this is a pretty complete list. Secondly, I have had the pleasure of reading many of these books and the author does a great job of summarizing some of my favorites. BTW, my favorites are Think and grow Rich and the Science of Getting Rich. I picked up a few good ideas on books to read from his list and if I could go back in time to my early 20s, this list would be a great start to a successful life.
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on May 4, 2014
50 Success Classics is a useful sampler that surely was much work to produce; in addition it’s true that writing your own ideas is easier than correctly sharing the ideas of others in your own words

In this sense, the book has high value and is a precious asset in every business and personal growth library because many of us won’t have the time to read all the books and life stories reviewed by Tom Butler-Bowden: exciting, interesting life stories of highly successful and extraordinary men and women. Hence the function of this review sampler conveys the essential wisdom from fifty landmark books.

This unabridged guide to the literature of prosperity and motivation surveys fifty of the all-time classics, giving you their key ideas, insights and applications – everything you need to know for benefiting from these legendary works. From rags-to-riches stories of entrepreneurs such as Dale Carnegie, Warren Buffett and Sam Walton, over master motivators like Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy and Napoleon Hill, to contemporary business blockbusters as Jack Welch, Spencer Johnson and Robert Kiyosaki, these are the leaders and pioneers who have helped generations of readers unleash their potential and discover the secrets of success.
Let me first point out what the author understands under ‘success’. It was thoughtful of his part to define what he means by that term as after newest stress-research, the term success itself has become controversial. This research found that in modern consumer society, success is actually a trap for many, a high-voltage trip to the grave, a cosmetic and socially approved vintage of suicide that comes with a golden coffin!

It goes without saying that Tom Butler-Bowden does not talk about this kind of success, but about real success which always involves the soul and which is not based upon greed, but a true mission.

The author explains that to lead, ‘you have to make a declaration of independence against the estimation of others, the culture, the age,’ that you have ‘to decide to live in the world, but outside existing conceptions of it’, because ‘[l]eaders do not merely do well by the terms of their culture, they create new contexts, new things, new ways of doing and being.’/21

In this sense, real success also comes with certain obligations. It’s not given for free. It has to be managed. Managing success means, according to the author, that you manage your time, and your productivity. And your advancement, or the advancement of your organization for that matter, has to be incremental, one step at a time, but that step done safely, thoroughly and carefully.
Real success also involves people management, both the people you are working with in a team, and the people who buy stuff from you. And, last not least, the people who are in the ring with you—your competitors—that you ought to consider not as your enemies but as your friends, for through their eyes, you can see your weaknesses. When you talk with customers, will you smugly tear down your competitors? The author sees success potential in the precisely opposite attitude, and he stresses values like optimism, friendliness, openness, and a positive attitude.

Another value is what the author calls continuity, and what the I Ching discusses under the header of hexagram 32. Constancy. What is the meaning of constancy, and what does it mean in business? The author illustrates this value in discussing Warren Buffett’s stock management strategies.

Next, the author elucidates other values needed for building long-term success, such as focus, honesty, self-confidence, a set of positive beliefs and a basically sane mind that is able to evaluate reality with a minimum of perception bias.

Another value or virtue of the successful entrepreneur has been called a sense of duty or fulfilling one’s dharma.

Last not least, the perhaps most powerful driving agent for success simply is desire! But for making desire the motor of your success, you must know what you desire, what you want! That sounds simplistic, but it is really not as simple as it sounds. When you are not clear about your true wishes, you may run for twenty years in the wrong direction, only to see afterwards that the effort was not worth it because all the riches you acquired on the way mean nothing to you—as it was not what you really desired.

The price of the book, by the way, is very modest compared to what you get out of it. What is my overall feeling regarding this book? It’s gratitude! Did you know that a sense of gratitude and a conscious awareness of the blessings that are already in your hands is a thousand times stronger than the most excellent time management?
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on March 21, 2013
I enjoy these books (I have several) because they give me enough information about the books for me to decide whether or not I want to read them individually. It is an excellent time-saver and helps me to avoid purchasing books that I may not be interested in. More than that, the summaries give me a rounded overview of books that have information I may want to know but not enough to read the entire books so this is an excellent time-saver in more ways than one.
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on April 1, 2013
This book consists of brief recountings of 50 popular books about success. Each is only a few pages long and tries to boil down the contents of the books for easy digestion.

As a source of wisdom, this is somewhat lacking. But if you're interested in the subject of success, this book can help you pick the books you want to read.
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