Think and Grow Rich: A book review by Bob Morris

Think and Grow Rich: The Original Classic
Napoleon Hill, with an Introduction by Tom Butler-Bowdon
Capstone Publishing Ltd. (2009)

The “Supreme Secret” of success: “Anything the human mind can believe, the human mind can achieve.”

Those who have read one or more of the volumes that comprise Tom Butler-Bowdon’s 50 Classics series already know that he possesses superior reasoning and writing skills as well as a relentless curiosity when conducting research on history’s greatest thinkers and their major works. For these and other reasons, I cannot think of another person better qualified to provide the introductions to the volumes that comprise a new series, Capstone Classics.

Think and Grow Rich was based on two decades of research conducted by Napoleon Hill (concluded in 1928) after being retained by Andrew Carnegie to complete an analysis of 500 of the most successful people in the United States and elsewhere. The title of his original report, Laws of Success, consisted of 1,500 pages in a series of seven volumes, in which Hill lists and discusses 17 “principles of achievement.” It is worth noting that this volume in the Capstone Classics series also contains both the “Publisher’s Preface to Original Edition” and the “Author’s Introduction to Original Edition” (published in 1937) and a list of those interviewed by Napoleon Hill over a 20-year period.

Unlike so many others, Butler-Bowdon provides more, much more than a flimsy “briefing” to the given work. For this volume, he creates a context, a frame-of-reference, for Napoleon Hill’s insights in a 16-page introduction in which he addresses subjects, themes, and issues such as these:

o A brief but remarkably insightful review of pertinent details in Hill’s circumstances when retained by Carnegie

o His magazine ventures, notably Hill’s Golden Rule and Napoleon Hill’s Magazine

o Hill’s DRAFT of a book, The 13 Steps to Riches, based on material introduced in Laws of Success

o Original title of DRAFT was changed to Use Your Noodle to Win More Boodle and then, finally and thankfully, to Think and Grow Rich

o Hill’s “four clear elements of success” (i.e. desire, faith, plans, and persistence)

o The moral and spiritual foundation of Think and Grow Rich

o 31 reasons why people fail

o The self-defeating aspects of personality that many (most?) people do not recognize

So what is “The “Supreme Secret” of success revealed by Hill in a later work, Grow Rich with Peace of Mind, published in 1967, three years before his death? “Anything the human mind can believe, the human mind can achieve.” Although it may now be fashionable to dismiss (often with ridicule) all such aphorisms, the fact remains that every success in life does indeed require an idea, an insight, that someone then makes a reality.

Thomas Edison was right: “Vision without execution is hallucination” but execution without purpose is merely effort without value. As Butler-Bowdon suggests, “Hill was saying that there were no limits to what a person can do [unless self-imposed], and history has proved it so thousands of times with the stories of any remarkable person.”

As indicated earlier, Tom Butler-Bowdon’s purpose in this introduction is to create a context, a frame-of-reference, for Hill’s insights. He does so brilliantly in this instance and in each of the other volumes in the Capstone Classics series that have been published thus far.



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