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How Successful People Win: Using Bunkhouse Logic to Get What You Want in Life Hardcover – April 1, 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While the cowboy life is basking in the Brokeback spotlight, Stein (How to Ruin Your Life) believes the mindset of these romantic figures-the cowboys' "bunkhouse logic"-is the ultimate guide to fulfillment in life. But don't let the stature of this breezy book fool you: Stein dispels wishful thinking and exhorts readers to figure out what they want and then to ask for it. Unlike most entries in the self-help field, Stein's writing is dark, funny and devoid of sunny aphorisms: readers should accept that life is a series of potentially debilitating blows, forego "illusions that anything will work out in a just or decent or proper way," realize that "constant ass-kissing is so demeaning to the ass-kisser and the ass-kissed that it cheapens life" and always "dream your biggest dreams." Stein's bunkhouse thinking revolves around realizing the stark facts of life and then acting accordingly, so associating with lucky, successful people is good, but choosing perfection over persistence is bad. Readers may be disheartened to read Stein's flip affirmation of their fears about how the world works, but this guide to playing the game will help those feeling hogtied.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Ben Stein can be seen talking about finance on Fox TV news every week. He is known to many as a movie and television personality, but has probably worked more in personal and corporate finance than anything else. He has written about finance for Barron’s and The Wall Street Journal for decades and contributes regularly to the AARP’s    Modern Maturity (now AARP: The Magazine). He was one of the chief busters of the junk bond frauds of the 1980s, has been a long-time critic of corporate executives’ self-dealing, and has written several self-help books about personal finance.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: New Beginnings Press (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561709751
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561709755
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #811,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Rules for life are necessarily general in nature. Imagine if I gave you instructions on driving such as, "drive forward 320 feet and stop at the stop sign, wait for the yellow Dodge pickup truck on your left to go through, then proceed for a quarter mile". These instructions are so specific that they might never apply to any real world situation and certainly not one you will ever face. However, if I told you to stop you car at stop signs and proceed when the intersection is clear, you will be able to handle a great many different situations at four way stops (but not all). So, a handy book like the one Ben Stein provides here only seems simple because it is so concisely and clearly written. The proof that living is not very simple is how many lives are full of troubles. Yours, too?

The author begins a story about when he was most miserable and uses that as a point of departure to help us end the misery in our own. The basic idea of this book is to use the idea of the American cowboy as an example of how one gets control of one's life and acquires what one really wants from life. The cowboy is active, decisive, and focused on his purposes and goals. The cattle must be rounded up and driven to the city were they will be sold. There are no excuses, no alternatives, and no one else will come in and do the work for him. Nor would he want them to.

The book is in five parts. The first part introduces us to Stein's story about his own life and the Spirit of the cowboy. Part II frames what Bunkhouse logic is and what it is not. Part III provides some basic thoughts about life, but really makes an argument that anything worthwhile in life is going to involve risk. That is, you might experience actual loss and pain in pursuit of your dreams.
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Format: Hardcover
How Successful People Win gets a five-star review from me, even though I tend to be a little stingy on the stars. Self-help books in particular usually don't get my attention. Seems like almost anyone can write one, and does.

But Ben Stein does do a great job of distilling valuable life lessons into teachings we can all benefit from. Frankly, I quickly tired of the analogy of life to a cowboy herding cattle. Seemed quite strained. Nonetheless, I never tired of the book. I even read it through, cover to cover, twice in two or three days. Can't remember the last book I did that with.

I've read some of Ben Stein's other books -- How to Ruin Your Life and its ilk. Those were entertaining, but more fluff than substance. How Successful People Win definitely gives you a lot more to chew on.
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Format: Hardcover
I remember when i was reading the introduction, Mr Stein mentions that many of the observations have probably occurred to you but he's synthesizing them into a overal philosophy. True indeed.

This book presents the basic rules of life, and rules of success. You can love them or hate them but you can't ignore them because they are contsants. The book is a very quick read, interesting, keeps you wanting to read more and is just a good book. After I bought this I want and bought his other two books on How to screw up your life and how to ruin your financial life.

Well worth the price
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ben Stein has the smarts. Unlike most famous actors, he's gotten by on more than his, er, good looks. He worked hard for what he has. He knows practical economics better than many economics professors (his dad was one). He's been a teacher, journalist, and a lawyer. And he's spent his entire life actively observing successful people. So when he speaks (or writes), I'm willing to listen. And Stein speaks the truth...like it or not.

Others have touched upon most aspects of this short book, which is of course about being a success. "Success" here is defined as "getting what you want in life." The book is broken into five parts, with the meatiest being Part IV ("Preparing for the Game") and Part V ("The Rules of the Game"). The binding theme is "bunkhouse logic": an emphasis on activity, mobility, and performance--not excuses. This is something cowboys have known for a long time. You gotta work HARD for success. And then you gotta get up early the next morning and do it again.

If I'm going to allow someone into my head to do a little lifehacking--and pay for it to boot--then for my money I want to hear what works, no matter how tough it may be. Stein doesn't disappoint me. If your idea of success is the sort you get from late night infomercials ("Lose weight with no money down!" "Get rich eating nothing but chocolate!") this book will disappoint you. (Remember what dear Wesley told Buttercup? "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.") Stein emphasizes what truly successful people have always understood: Success = Work. Hard work, and lots of it.

This lesson (really, the heart of the book) is summed up in Part V, Rule #4: `Life is a Process, and the Process Never Ends.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is possibly the most useful book I have ever read. I first read it over 20 years ago (when it was called simply "Bunkhouse Logic") and continue to reread it again and again. I have literally given away dozens of copies to young people starting their careers -- including my own adult children. I have followed its advice for decades and it really works. Stein has boiled down so many painfully learned lessons into clear, understandable principles. His most basic premise -- look at life the way it really is, not the way you think it should be -- is worth the price of the book many times over. One can only wonder why this book is not a textbook in every high school and college in the nation.
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