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Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son
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Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,137 ratings  ·  104 reviews
This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern ...more
Paperback, 364 pages
Published June 5th 2003 by Kessinger Publishing (first published January 1st 1902)
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4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,137 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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Ryan Holiday
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is the preserved correspondence between Old Gorgon Graham, a self-made millionaire in Chicago, and his son who is coming of age and entering the family business. The letters date back to the 1890s but feel like they could have been written in any era. They are surprisingly stoic. Honest. Genuine. Packed with good advice. Normally these types of books are unreadably boring and personal. My version has only Graham's letters and none from his son so there is only one voice, one perspectiv ...more
Eric Napier
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended reading for any male over 14. Excellent reading for 2 reasons:
1) the advice is very good
2) it is hilarious.

"You can trust a woman's taste on everything except men; and it's mighty lucky that she slips up there or we'd pretty nigh all be bachelors."

"You've got to get up every morning with determination if you're going to go to bed with satisfaction."

"With most people happiness is something that is always just a day off. But I have made it a rule never to put off being happy till to-mo
Sanford Chee
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
I thought this was a real life correspondence between John Graham and his son "Piggy", and was curious what has happened to House of Graham & Company. If it was such good advice surely the firm would have prospered or was it a case of from shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations (or as the Chinese proverb goes 富不过三代).

I then realised that this was a work of fiction by American journalist George Lorimer rather than a edited excerpts of correspondence. Written in 1901 and reflecting
Sujoy Chaudhary
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some very powerful notes, you rarely come across such first hand notes about basics of building a business. However, most of the stories the writer came up with seemed just eloquent ways to deny his son from doing what he wanted.
Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is book is excellent. I found it for free on the Project Gutenberg website and I'm glad I downloaded it.

John Graham or "Old Gorgon Graham" was a self-made millionaire merchant for the House of Graham & Company in Chicago and this book contains letters he wrote to his son Pierrepont at certain stages of his son's life (college life, work life, marriage). The letters were primarily written to Pierrepont as he was entering his father's business. The letters are from 1890 and I'm surprised
Vinoth Srinivasan
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: exploring-me
Life simply penned into words...
Ben Nesvig
Sep 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-reads
Some of the best advice I've found in any book. And it's the funniest book I've read this year. Also written in 1903 and free.
Simon Howard
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1902 and written by Kentucky journalist George Horace Lorimer, this is a series of fictional letters from the 'self-made' owner of a meat-packing business (John Graham) to his son (Pierrepont). The letters, which start at the point that Pierrepont goes off to university, dispense fatherly advice as his studies and (later) career in the family firm steadily progress.

This is only 76 pages long, yet is packed with quotable lines that could have been lifted from any number of self
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every page contains at least one nugget of gold wrapped in old-world (and sometimes sexist), down-to-earth charm. Here are just a few:

- Education is everywhere, free for the taking. Haul away every drop you can for everything else is screwed down tight.

- The core of anything must be sound. If the core of a pig is no good, no amount of seasoning will fix it.

- Sound conscience over gap-less knowledge.

- "Education can make you a scholar, while [time with the boys] can make you a man."

- Knowing is o
Anshul Agrawal
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction

Timeless wisdom. A very good read.

Does a College education pay? You bet it pays. Anything that trains a boy to think and to think quick pays; anything that teaches a boy to get the answer before the other fellow gets through biting the pencil, pays.

It isn’t so much knowing a whole lot, as knowing a little and how to use it that counts.

I can’t hand out any ready-made success to you. It would do you no good, and it would do the house harm. There is plenty of room at the top here, b
Courtney Umlauf
Of course, clothes don't make the man, but they make all of him except his hands and face during business hours, and that's a pretty considerable area of the human animal. A dirty shirt may hide a pure heart, but it seldom covers a clean skin. If you look as if you had slept in our clothes, most men will jump to the conclusion that you have, and you will never get to know them well enough to explain that your head is so full of noble thoughts that you haven't time to bother with the dandruff on
Sep 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amusing, but annoyingly repetitious. A fictional series of letters from an industrialist to his son, with every letter following exactly the same pattern: admonishment for something the son is doing wrong, a flood of aphoristic advice on how one's business and personal affairs should be conducted, a meandering anecdote that only vaguely pertains to the son's situation. There is almost no plot (other than the short chapter intros which only sketchily show the son's actions), and we learn little a ...more
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great book. I learned about the book through a website saying it was a must read. This book is a gem and has alot of wise advice. It is hard to follow at some points since it was made during a different time in history with different slangs and sayings that were popular for that time. But the advice given in the book was priceless. Some of the advice i received from my own father when I was younger.

This is a great book for a young man. I think everyone should take the time to read it and learn
Kaustubh Chaharia
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I first started reading this book an year back, it probably didn't catch my interest a lot. I started re reading it couple of days back and the book was simply unputdownable. There are tons of timeless wisdom and aphorisms contained in this book in the format of letters from a father to his son. Each letter being dedicated to a topic/message in particular. This can go down as one of the all time greatest books written on business and life.
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: economy
Didn't really like the old man's point of view, it's outdated, racist and he might be wealthy, but he is very poor in his heart. His thought of helping his son grow is to throw him out in the world and see if he swims. That's one way of doing it, but not one I agree with and very old. It had some peaces of advice you could take from it, so i gave 2 stars for that.
Luka Rajčević
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books where you should go and read a chapter a day, because there is so much wisdom and good advice that one must take some time to have all of it absorbed appropriately. Would recommend to anyone.
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: free-ebook
The merchant seems like someone unfit to offer advice. He seems to advocate the accumulation of wealth at any cost. That combined with his proclivity towards ranting make this a repulsive book for me.
David Wen
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
A few nuggets of wisdom in the correspondences between father and son. Overall, not very interesting or relevant today as they lived in a different era.
Dominika Klekner
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Funny, and filled with solid knowledge about life, work, relationships and being an adult.
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was a quick and interesting book! I enjoyed all the stories he wrote about to his son and funny tangents he went on. There were some good business and life lessons in there too.
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was definitely written for a male audience, in case the title wasn't an indicator.

Aside from the examples given and the language used, you would be hard pressed to figure out this was written in the 1900s. Some of the advice given in this book were true gems and stark reminders that some wisdom is timeless.

Here were a few choice highlights of mine:

"I want to say right here that the easiest way in the world to make enemies is to hire friends."

"And when a fellow whines that he's being he
Jon Angell
Aug 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This was an interesting book which was written as 20 letters written by John Graham, the wealthy head of the House of Graham and Co. Pork Packers in Chicago to his son, Pierrepont Graham. The first letter starts during the time the son is back east getting a formal education, subsequent letters see the son come into the family business working himself from the mail room and up through the ranks of the company, until the twentieth letter in which the father is giving marriage advice and his bless ...more
Stephen Lubin
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the most impactful book I think I've ever read, as well as one of the best. It offers great insight, perspective, wisdom, lessons, and experience in a way that humorous and digestible. It is a spectacular break down of the human psyche but presented in metaphor that captures the lessons brilliantly. I think it's amazing. The analysis of life, the distilled experience, the wisdom, it just makes this book so rich. I've never annotated more. I ended with 116 annotations and more highlights. ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Good advice from father to son. There are some nuggets of wisdom in the book, such as:

-You will always find it a safe rule to take a thing just as quick as it is offered—especially a job. It is never easy to get one except when you don’t want it; but when you have to get work, and go after it with a gun, you’ll find it as shy as an old crow that every farmer in the county has had a shot at;
-A clear mind is one that is swept clean of business at six o’clock every night and isn’t opened up for it
Theo Anagram
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Did you ever have that grand dad that would go on and on with their stories? This book is that man in book form. You mumble through the stories but, there are some good wisdom's in this book. I think there is some true honesty in this book that is useful for a growing man. I wonder if the son really would find these lessons useful if they didn't address this experiences. I think it's quite beautiful that a dad, who loves his son, puts effort in to writing him these lessons. I can definitely say ...more
Alvin Svitzer
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of letters from father to son that contains great swathes of relevant advice despite the book being published in 1902. Relationships, work ethic, dealing with money, education and much more is conveyed in twenty letters written in that unique voice loving yet critical fathers seem to adopt for offloading wisdom to their offspring. At times the no-nonense, workaholic father strikes me as being too heavy on criticisms and too light on blessings, but overall the tough love appr ...more
Pragyansh Panigrahi
This book sums up LIFE very nicely and offers precious wisdom & advice on how to live it; it highlights all experiences, the errors of the youth, the lures of women, foolish people, society , marriage, procrastination and what-not that a person is likely to come across or encounter at different parts of their lives! It's Strangely Hilarious, and i must admit, it was hard read for me initially, but once i got the hook of it, i was alright; and i am glad i did read this book! Some of the best ...more
Rahul Chowdhury
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some good advice for young people and some for old one too. This book has practical tips that one should follow.

I however disagree with the last letter, where the author says women are not good in doing business and he prefer them to be at home as they are more emotionally driven.

I agree that women are more emotionally driven than men, but that's there strength too. I think that makes them strong over long run.

P.S. The book is available freely at Project Gutenberg.
Link: https://www.gutenberg.o
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'll preface this review: there's some racist and misogynous BS in this book. If you can separate that from the rest, there are lots of fun aphorisms and anecdotes in this book that convey good and wise life lessons. The prose evokes tangible imagery, and the stories are humorous caricatures of human folly that we can recognize in ourselves and our own lives. Lorimer manages to fold what is essentially a self-help book into a light-hearted narrative. An easy and enjoyable read that can be read i ...more
Marcelo Martinez Goncalves
Great read - fun and full of little nuggets of parental wisdom, most still valid to this day

Great short book about a fathers letters to his son. As his son is leaving for college, ge starts writing letters which covers all spectrum of common sense, which are still applicable to this day (most of them).

Ligh hearted , funny and full of little stories to illustrate his point to his son.

I thoroughly enjoyed this little book!
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George Horace Lorimer (October 6, 1867 – October 22, 1937) was an American journalist and author. He is best known as the editor of The Saturday Evening Post. During his editorial reign, the Post rose from a circulation of several thousand to over a million. He is credited with promoting or discovering a large number of American writers, e.g. Jack London.

Lorimer was born in Louisville, Kentucky, t
“Putting off an easy thing makes it hard, and putting off a hard one makes it impossible.” 9 likes
“I want to say right here that the easiest way in the world to make enemies is to hire friends.” 9 likes
More quotes…