I am certainly going to listen to Outwitting the Devil again, possibly several times. There is too much material here to digest or even remember in one session. It isn't all that long, but it is very condensed and the ideas deserve to be pondered upon.
For anyone who is familiar with Hill's previous work, Think and Grow Rich or any of the Positive Thinking self help books that have come after it, many of the ideas presented in this book are familiar. However, the dialog with the Devil format is unique and extremely compelling, making it far different from the touchy feelie books that the self help industry has spawned in the last thirty years. It is less The Secret and more The Screwtape Letters or Twain's Letters from the Earth. It presents positive thinking as a moral dilemma and puts failure or success in a social and spiritual context rather than a material context. Of course, the Devil in Outwitting the Devil is a literary device and bears little resemblance to the Christian devil. Still, His Majesty comes to life and presents himself as a being to be taken seriously rather than dismissed as a mere superstition.
I really liked the dramatic performance aspect of having the narrator and the Devil be two different voices. The narrator who read the part of the Devil was excellent, full of personality, gravitas and a touch of wry humor. He was truly the highlight of the experience. However, I didn't care for the frequent intrusion of the editor. Her often patronizing repetition of what Hill had just said and questions along the lines of "what do YOU think of X? Can you find X in your life? not only broke up the flow of the narration but was irritating as well. This kind of interjection might work in a written format, but in an audio format, I often lost track of what Hill was saying and sometimes had to go so far as to back up and start over. If the editor really needed to put in her two cents worth, she could have just as easily consolidated her remarks at the end of the book, which would have worked better.
Hill's seven principles are the sort of concise wisdom that could very easily be printed out and posted on a wall over my desk as constant reminders of how not to fall into the habit of drifting.
There will probably be those who will object to the often 'politically incorrect' comments that Hill makes throughout the book. It was written in a different time with different assumptions about gender and social class. However, the people and institutions that the devil criticizes so vehemently are just as worthy of criticism today if not more. I have a feeling that the people who would have objected to this book in 1938 are still the people who would object to it now, and for the same reasons.
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