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Self-Help Messiah: Dale Carnegie and Success in Modern Americaby Steven. Watts
Synopses & Reviews
"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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
An illuminating biography of the man who taught Americans “how to win friends and influence people”
Before Stephen Covey, Oprah Winfrey, and Malcolm Gladwell there was Dale Carnegie. His book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, became a best seller worldwide, and Life magazine named him one of “the most important Americans of the twentieth century.” This is the first full-scale biography of this influential figure.
Dale Carnegie was born in rural Missouri, his father a poor farmer, his mother a successful preacher. To make ends meet he tried his hand at various sales jobs, and his failure to convince his customers to buy what he had to offer eventually became the fuel behind his future glory. Carnegie quickly figured out that something was amiss in American education and in the ways businesspeople related to each other. What he discovered was as simple as it was profound: Understanding people’s needs and desires is paramount in any successful enterprise. Carnegie conceived his book to help people learn to relate to one another and enrich their lives through effective communication. His success was extraordinary, so hungry was 1920s America for a little psychological insight that was easy to apply to everyday affairs.
Self-help Messiah tells the story of Carnegie’s personal journey and how it gave rise to the movement of self-help and personal reinvention.
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