The Wisdom of Andrew Carnegie as told to Napoleon Hill by Napoleon Hill

Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

carnegieTitle and AuthorThe Wisdom of Andrew Carnegie as told to Napoleon Hill by Napoleon Hill 

Synopsis of Content:

In 1908 a young reporter named Napoleon Hill obtained an interview with recently retired steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie had just sold his steel mills to a trust which would become US Steel. He was busy spending the last half of his life giving away the fortune he had accumulated during the first half. He was the richest man in the world and the most successful.

Carnegie turned the original hour interview into a couple days where he lectured Hill about the principles of success he had learned and applied in business to become so successful. He liked what he saw in Hill and commissioned him, should he accept, with the task of interviewing most of the successful men of the time and writing a science of success, based at first on Carnegie’s thoughts and then on what he would learn from the men of industry. Carnegie would pay Hill nothing – but would write him letters of introduction which would allow him to mine wisdom about success from nearly every man of success during the first quarter of the 20th century.

In this book Hill purports to recount the wisdom given him by Carnegie. While there is no reason to doubt that many of the gems in the book may have come from Carnegie, among others, there is good reason to doubt it all did. First because it is written in Hill’s verbal and rhetorical style, including the quotes he attributes to Carnegie, and second because he makes generous reference to events that came long after Carnegie’s death. Also, he adds in things like the supremacy of a positive mental attitude which came not from Carnegie but from Hill’s later collaborator, W. Clement Stone. In fact this book was originally written under the title Think Your Way to Wealth and in 1953 published as How to Raise Your Salary. Later it was re-released as The Wisdom of Andrew Carnegie as told to Napoleon Hill.

The basic content in the final version is the 17 Principles of Success that Hill first wrote in his Science of Success series and repeated in various formulations in later works.

Like everything by Hill however there is a great deal of useful material here. The reader may well wish to skip over some parts that may not seem helpful but the greatest part of it is among the best of Hill’s writings. The success principles and disciplines he writes about are the root of much of the success literature of the past 50 years and many of the speakers, leaders and authors in the success and self improvement field have been deeply influenced by this work.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

This book is very readable. Like much of Hill’s work it is easy to get through and well organized. Unlike some of his earliest work it is concise. Beginning with Think and Grow Rich Hill had learned to write with economy – a method much more accessible for the average reader. 

Notes on Author:

Napoleon Hill dedicated his life to fulfilling the challenge he claimed that Andrew Carnegie had given him. I have yet to discover any independent record of this. I checked with the most recent biographer of Carnegie and he found no reference in any of Carnegie’s papers or other biographies about him concerning this conversation or acquaintance with Hill. Yet, Hill spent a life time insisting upon its truth and no one to my knowledge from the Carnegie family ever challenged it.

In the 1930s, after many disappointments and failures, Hill gained national fame as a bestselling author with Think and Grow Rich, based in large part upon his studies under Carnegie and inspired by him.

Related Website:

For more information about Andrew Carnegie:

For more information about Napoleon Hill:

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Before Hill met W. Clement Stone and agreed with him that a positive mental attitude was the most important quality for success Hill insisted that Carnegie and the man other successful men whom he had interviewed and learned from had discovered that having a definite major purpose in life and focusing all one’s energy toward it was the first key to success. Whether you agree with Carnegie that this is the most important requisite for success or whether you concur with Stone that a positive mental attitude is most important may not matter – both attributes are vital to success in every area of life.
  1. Use of the Master mind principle is the second great lesson taught by Carnegie. Carnegie and Hill both learned early in life that no one attains great success alone. To assemble a group of like minded people who will work together in harmony for a joint objective is the most powerful force in human endeavor and a key to success.
  1. The exercise of self discipline is also a necessary and fundamental requirement for success. Those who have mastered this skill succeed – those who have not most often do not.

Publication Information:   

The Wisdom of Andrew Carnegie as told to Napoleon Hill, by Napoleon Hill.

©1953, 1981 and revised in 2004. Published by the Napoleon Hill Foundation, Wise, Virginia.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.