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Audiobook Review: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

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A 70-year old book doesn’t get a new review every day, but this audio version deserves one. Few books have been talked about more, and really gotten less attention than this “manual to success,” written by Napoleon Hill and published for the first time in 1937. The text is based on Hill’s earlier work, The Law of Success and presents Andrew Carnegie’s principals for growing rich, achieving and maintaining success in life, in all areas.

Because of its age, and “because it was published between 1923 and 1964 inclusive, and not renewed at the U.S. Copyright office in a timely fashion,” as the law states, the text itself is in the public domain, and can be found in several places on the internet. This audio version, however, is worth the price.

Napoleon Hill researched for 25 years on the subject, and his findings after collaborating with more than 500 men of wealth and success from his era are presented in this book for anyone to read and duplicate as they wish.

Erik Synnestvedt reads this audio version of Napoleon Hill’s book, and spends nine hours and 35 minutes doing it, making the overall length of the audio anything but daunting. Synnestvedt has narrated a number of books, focusing on the self-help segment.

Synnestvedt comes across as knowledgeable and certain in his step, showing that he knows his niche and he knows the material. The book itself isn’t very challenging, since it contains no characters, no drama to speak of, and it is a very straightforward text without emotion or other complicating factors that has to be faced in a novel. Some listeners have noted that Synnestvedt has a nasal voice, and it is true that his intonation can sometimes be distinctive, but that does only one thing – it keeps your attention peaked.

For those who’ve listened to this book and annoyed themselves as to Synnestvedt’s pronunciation of Carnegie’s name, I’d just like to say that he is using the original Scottish pronunciation, which is also ultimately the correct one.

Nine and a half hours of this narrator is too much to listen to in one go, however, and that is a real drawback for this audio version of a highly successful book. Accurate and sure in his step though he may be, Synnestvedt’s style demands attention at all times, and that can be tiring at times, and also makes this audiobook somewhat less suited for listening to while doing something else. Distractions will make it hard to get back on track with this narrator’s flow, and ultimately may see to that you have to listen to a whole chapter again, which is annoying. Happened to me.

Rounding up this review with a little note about Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret is only fitting. It will be clear to anyone who has read The Secret that Byrne’s book is based on Think and Grow Rich principles. Napoleon Hill was the first researcher to write successfully on the subject of, well, success, and an enormous number of self help literature has been based on his 25 years of interviews and fact-gathering since then. The Secret is no exception. The wording of The Secret is more straightforward, and it contains less information, but it does put into clear text the things that Napoleon Hill only hints towards. In the end however, his point in doing that may have had something to it; when you’re ready for it, you’ll see clearly what he is talking about.

Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich in audio version is definitely worth getting, but only if you really intend on listening closely, and put it to good use. If you’re looking for a soothing distraction, look elsewhere.

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  • I still have my first paperback copy! Worn, torn, tattered and cherished. It’s on the shelf next to my first copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. Thanks for a great review.