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Book review

Dale Carnegie: How to win friends and influence people

Dale Carnegie, born in 1888, was a famous American writer and lecturer who gained considerable reputation for his publications on self-improvement and interpersonal communication.

“How to win friends and influence people” is arguably his most successful and influential work, and considered by many to be one of the first modern “self-help” books. It is based on a course that Carnegie taught. Since its first publication in 1936, the book has sold millions of copies worldwide. In it, Carnegie describes numerous principles with which the reader can improve his or her communication with others, make a more charismatic and likable impression, convince other people of one’s own way of thinking and become a more successful leader for others.

Now, think about self-help literature what you will. There are a lot of books of questionable value out there, promising you success in this or that within weeks or a handful of simple steps. The appeal and value of “How to win friends and influence people” lies within how obvious its advice is: Don’t complain; be friendly; let others save their face. So why would you read it? Well, it helps even the grumpiest killjoy stick to those simple guidelines, and gives a lot of real-life examples in which improved behavior will benefit the reader.

One has to keep in mind two things: This book is 80 years old and it was written by an American. That context is important because not all of the communication recipes may work as well today or in other cultures. For example, Carnegie writes about how one should make compliments to others. So far, so good! But he illustrates that with a situation in which one would compliment a post-office worker for his full head of hair. That would probably seem odd to most of today’s readers under any circumstance.

That aside, the book is a wonderful companion to improve every-day interaction and communication with others.

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How to win friends and influence people
Dale Carnegie
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4391-6734-2
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