Top critical review
It also contains some poor advice for people at the bottom of the social/career ...
on August 7, 2017
This book from 1937 has advice that is still in management books today, so you have to give it props for that. But, the title doesn't really suggest that this book is targeted at people who already have some power in their relationships--but I would argue that it is. If you are a salesperson or someone's boss, then the techniques in this book--many of which involve people pleasing in the extreme--will probably work for you. But they are not going to be enough to deal with particularly problematic relationships, especially ones in which you do not have the power. It also contains some poor advice for people at the bottom of the social/career ladder.
As an example, Carnegie discusses going to a party of important people and convincing a respected botanist that he is a good conversationalist by just listening to him for several hours. He goes on to say that they became contacts and saw each other after that. Okay, fine. But Carnegie is already a somebody--he has a class advantage that makes people assume he is someone worth knowing. If I as a PhD student went to conferences and just listened and asked questions to people in my field and didn't promote myself at all, I wouldn't make any contacts--like ever. I don't want to belabour this point too much because I actually like many parts of the book. My disclaimer is just that I suspect that this advice often won't work for people who have less power--people who deal with bosses/people who mistreat them or who are trying to sell themselves to people who think that they are much more important than them.
If you do like the elements of this book that are written for bosses/managers, What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith fleshes some of them out a bit more. For example, Carnegie discusses the difference between genuine appreciation and flattery, but Goldsmith did a very good job of teaching me how to be nicer to and more appreciative of co-workers and employees without being a phony or being unhelpful to their development.