Every generation gets the self-help guru that it deserves. In 1937, at the height of the Depression, Napoleon Hill wrote “Think and Grow Rich,” which claimed to distill the principles that had made Andrew Carnegie so wealthy. “The Power of Positive Thinking,” by Norman Vincent Peale, which was published in 1952, advised readers that techniques such as “a mind-emptying at least twice a day” would lead to success. By the seventies, Werner Erhard and est promised material wealth through spiritual enlightenment. The eighties and nineties saw management-consultancy maxims married with New Age thinking, with books such as Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” In the past decade or so, there has been a rise in books such as “Who Moved My Cheese?,” by Spencer Johnson, which promise to help readers maximize their professional potential in an era of unpredictable workplaces. Timothy Ferriss’s books appeal to those for whom cheese, per se, has ceased to have any allure.
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