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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, and 1920s America was hungry for a little psychological insight that was easy to apply to everyday affairs.
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.” 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.
“An insightful and comprehensive new biography.” –The Economist
“[A] penetrating biography...Watts’s lucid prose and shrewd analysis gives us an absorbing portrait of Carnegie and the America he both reflected and shaped.” –Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“Steven Watts’s Self-Help Messiah is a fantastic page turner about the complicated pop guru of the American Positive Thinking Movement. Dale Carnegie was a master marketeer and common sense philosopher. This first rate biography does the legend justice. Highly recommended.” –Douglas Brinkley, author of Cronkite
“Compelling...Watts captures a momentous period of change in America and makes a forceful case for Carnegie’s significance in it.” –Barnes & Noble Reviews
“[Steven Watts’s] descriptions...are poignant. Watts shows how particularly attuned Carnegie was to the psychological needs of Americans beaten down by the Great Depression, who needed to hear that positive thinking would garner positive results.” –NPR, Fresh Air
“A fascinating portrait of the father of self-help and incisive analysis of the mercurial era that produced him.” –Kirkus Reviews