Preface to Revised Edition
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 cartoon 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 every-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.