How to Win Friends and Influence People was first published in 1937 in an edition of only five thousand copies. Neither Dale Carnegie nor the publishers, Simon and Schuster, anticipated more than this modest sale. To their amazement, the book became an overnight sensation, and edition after edition rolled off the presses to keep up with the increasing public demand. How to Win Friends and Influence People took its place in publishing history as one of the all- time international best-sellers. It touched a nerve and filled a human need that was more than a faddish phenomenon of post-Depression days, as evidenced by its continued and uninterrupted sales into the eighties, almost half a century later.
Dale Carnegie used to say that it was easier to make a million dollars than to put a phrase into the English language. How to Win Friends and Influence People became such a phrase: quoted, paraphrased, parodied; used in innumerable contexts, from political cartoons to novels. The book itself was translated into almost every known written language. Each generation has discovered it anew and has found it relevant.
Which brings us to the logical question: Why revise a book that has proven and continues to prove its vigorous and universal appeal? Why tamper with success?
To answer that, we must realize that Dale Carnegie himself was a tireless reviser of his own work during his lifetime. How to Win Friends and Influence People was written to be used as a textbook for his courses in Effective Speaking and Human Relations and is still used in those courses today. Until his death in 1955 he constantly improved and revised the course itself to make it applicable to the evolving needs of an ever-growing public. No one was more sensitive to the changing currents of present-day life than Dale Carnegie. He constantly improved and refined his methods of teaching; he updated his book on effective speaking several times. Had he lived longer, he himself would have revised How to Win
Friends and Influence People to better reflect the changes that have taken place in the world since the thirties.
Many of the names of prominent people in the book, well known at the time of first publication, are no longer recognized by many of today’s readers. Certain examples and phrases seem as quaint and dated in our social climate as those in a Victorian novel. The important message and overall impact of the book is weakened to that extent.
Our purpose, therefore, in this revision is to clarify and strengthen the book for a modern reader without tampering with the content. We have not “changed” How to Win Friends and Influence People except to make a few excisions and add a few more contemporary examples. The brash, breezy Carnegie style is intact—even the thirties slang is still there. Dale Carnegie wrote as he spoke, in an intensively exuberant, colloquial, conversational manner.
So his voice still speaks as forcefully as ever, in the book and in his work. Thousands of people all over the world are being trained in Carnegie courses in increasing numbers each year. And other thousands are reading and studying How to Win Friends and Influence People and being inspired to use its principles to better their lives. To all of them we offer this revision in the spirit of the honing and polishing of a finely made tool.
By Dale Carnegie
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