The overnight sensation
The book, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie provided a way for people to motivate themselves and enter the work force after the Great Depression. As an enlightened individual and business man of the time, Mr. Carnegie created a book that, “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,” (Carnegie 13). The peoples’ low morals and lost hope during and after the Depression made Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, an “overnight sensation.”
As stated by “Overview of Great Depression,” it is widely known that the Great Depression was a worldwide business slump of the 1930’s. It ranked as the worst and longest period of high unemployment and low business activity in modern times (1). “A Decade of Devastation,” claims it to be the most savaging of the western world (1). The Great Depression began in October of 1929 when stock values in the United States dropped rapidly (1). As the Great Depression progressed, more and more men had lost their jobs. They had to spend their days searching for any kind of work that they could find. Even women took on
the task of searching for jobs to support their family whenever they had the chance. Similarly, kids who were graduating from college in 1935 had to wait several years to get a job (“Effects on Families of the Great Depression,” 1). However, what were the chances that one would find work in the middle of the Great Depression? It is documented by “Unemployment on families during the Great Depression,” that from 1925 to 1933 the unemployment rate went from 3 to 25 percent, or 13 million. Before long, the only rising cure in the statistics was that of unemployment (Brogan 531). In other words, by the end of 1933, three out of four people would not find employment.
Depression is an emotional condition characterized by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy (Webster’s Dictionary, 379). It is a protective response to certain stresses such as the failure to achieve an important goal or the concept of loss (McLellan 45). It is claimed by “Causes of Depression – Social/Environmental,” that a lack of social supportive relationships, an increase in social stresses, isolation, and economic hardship can contribute to depression (1). In explaining what causes depression, “Causes of Depression,” asserts that a serious loss, difficult relationship, financial problem, or any unwelcome change in life patterns can trigger a depressive episode (2). Moreover, “Causes of Depression – Integrity vs. Despair,” emphasizes this fact by pointing out that depression is also proposed to occur when people do not believe that they have ever accomplished anything of value during their lives (1).
Depression and low morality through unemployment was evident throughout the workforce. Hugh Brogan comments on this by explaining the descent in the economy, which affected the workforce in stages: the loss of one job followed by the search for another in the same line. The search, growing frantic, for work in any line; the first appearance at the bread line, where astonishingly, dozens of other honest men were seen, who had kept the rules, worked hard, and were now as low as the professional bums (Brogan 531). During the 1920’s, many Americans believed success went to those who deserved it. Given that attitude, the unemployment brought by the depression was a crushing blow. Since the economic system distributed rewards on the basis of merit, those who lost their jobs had to conclude that it was their own fault. Self-blame, low morals, and hopelessness became epidemic (Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, “Great Depression in United States”).
For millions of Americans, who had recently joined the middle class because of the easy credit, installment buying, and low cost, lost everything (Bondi 309). According to “Causes of the Great Depression,” huge numbers of Americans had their lives upset by the Depression. Tens of thousands of migrant farm workers traveled the nation looking for employment. Homelessness, poverty and general despair characterized much of the nation (1). Yet, “Health Center: Stress – What is it?” promotes the idea that it is stressful to look for a job when one knows that he/she will just be overworked and in fear of being laid off. These facts can be supported as evidence that
serious losses, difficult relationships, financial problems cause depression, as well as any other unwelcome changes in life patterns.
Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, attempted to solve the low morality and unemployment caused by the Great Depression. An example of his philosophy can be portrayed through this motto, “Believe you will succeed and you will.” Carnegie had a technique he used to treat people that were victims of unemployment and depression; it was a select number of steps that he devised. His first step, to arouse an eager want in a person, gave people more confidence in their choices. His second one, to make the other person feel important, taught people to talk about things that interested them. He believed that he who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely path (Carnegie 61, 79, 141). These two steps were the building blocks for many workers of the depression. It is now apparent that the depressive atmosphere and peoples’ lost hope made Dale Carnegie’s book an “overnight sensation.”
The low morals and lost hope of people in the workforce during the Depression days had made Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, an “overnight sensation.” It took people who did not feel that they had ever accomplished anything of value during their lives, and taught them how to get along in the business world. This was extremely important since the break of the Depression called for workers to go back into work. It had given
people that the Great Depression infected a new outlook on life. Thus, the situation of peoples’ lives during the Great Depression made Dale Carnegie’s book an “overnight sensation.”
Bondi, Victor. American Decades 1930 – 1939. Detriot, MI: Gale Research Inc., 1995.
Brogan, Hugh. The Longman History of the United States. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1985.
Carnegie, Dale. How to Win Friends and Influence People. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981.
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