I can't remember being this excited about a book in quite a while. Napoleon Hill penned this masterpiece in 1938, shortly after he wrote the classic Think and Grow Rich. However, his family felt that many would find it too controversial—so it remained hidden for more than seventy years and was not published until 2011.

When the Napoleon Hill Foundation gave this manuscript to Sharon Lechter, coauthor of the Rich Dad series and Three Feet from Gold, she added dialogue throughout the book, allowing the reader to contemplate each thought from a twenty-first-century perspective.

In the first chapter, Hill describes a particularly challenging time in his life during the Great Depression when he felt paralyzed with fear and lived in abject poverty after losing all his assets.

The second chapter describes how this period came to an abrupt end, when Hill had a dramatic conversion experience in which his "other self" took over his mind, completely shifting his state from fear and doubt to peace and faith.

In the third chapter, Hill recounts an interview with the Devil, who revealed his secret methods of control that can lead us mortals to ruin. The interview is riveting, as the Devil explains exactly how he prevents human beings from realizing their full potential.

In chapter four, the Devil describes how he silently enters the minds of people and establishes the habit of drifting. He defines a drifter as "one who permits himself to be influenced and controlled by circumstances outside of his mind," while a non-drifter "has a mind of his own and uses it for all purposes."

Hill's commentary of how the Devil uses schools, governments, and churches as his allies might easily be applied to our current structures and systems.

The central idea of the book is that the greatest obstacles we face in reaching our goals are fear, procrastination, anger, and jealousy. Hill also discusses seven principles for attaining spiritual, mental, and physical freedom:

1) Definiteness of purpose;

2) Mastery over self;

3) Learning from adversity;

4) Controlling environmental influence (associations);

5) Time (giving permanency to positive thought habits and developing wisdom);

6) Harmony (becoming the dominating influence in your own environment);

7) Caution (thinking through your plan before you act).

Reading this book was a highly emotional experience for me. It gave me chills, and that's exactly what Hill intended by creating an almost Faustian atmosphere through this dialogue with the Devil, which is of course imaginary, the first sentence of the book being "Fear is the tool of a man-made devil."

The book also challenged me to be even more protective of my focus and the access others have to me; to continue to think for myself, and to exercise caution and control over each decision I make in view of the impact it has on my life.

I'm already recommending this book to my entire organization.

Hardcover, 288 pages, $22.95;
Sterling, 2011.