50 Prosperity Classics by Tom Butler-Bowdon is an assimilation of fifty great financial classics that will help you “attract it, create it, manage it, and share it,” with “it” being prosperity. It’s part of the “50 Classics Series,” a series I’d never heard about until this edition, but it’s a clever distillation of many great works down into something shorter than Cliff Notes. For each of the fifty classics, there’s a brief salient quote, followed by a box of important facts (think: executive summary), then a few pages of commentary that reads like a book report. The book reads like a Who’s Who of important financial and business individuals from Warren Buffett to John Bogle, from Bill Gates to Guy Kawasaki, from Adam Smith to Peter Lynch. The books span the ages going as far back as 1778 with Adam Smith (the ones after that are P.T. Barnum in 1880 and Andrew Carnegie in 1889) and as recently as Suze Orman (2007).
I chose to take a look at Andrew Carnegie’s The Gospel of Wealth first, since it was the namesake and founder of my alma mater Carnegie Mellon University. How’s this for a quote to capture the message of the book:
“The man who dies rich thus dies disgraced.”
And the “In a nutshell” summery, written by the author, was:
The wealth creator has a moral obligation to enrich the lives of others in whatever way they can.
Then the author launches into three page book report of The Gospel of Wealth followed by a brief biography of Andrew Carnegie.
I’m a big fan of books where you get little stories and vignettes, something I mentioned in my review of Ken Fisher’s 100 Minds That Made The Market. This book is in that same vein, offering little stories about each author, summarizing their books into a one sentence and a “book report” that makes it easy and quick to digest. To be honest, it makes a great bathroom book if you’re into reading a lot about personal finance, wealth creation and management!