Last Christmas, my brother bought me this booked called The Richest Man Who Ever Lived. The premise of the book is simple: everything you need for success and happiness in your life is contained in the Bible, specifically in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is said to be written primarily by King Solomon, builder of the first temple in Jerusalem and regarded as the ultimate ruler. Solomon, who appears in the Old Testament, is described as being widely respected for his wisdom. He also was quite wealthy and powerful. The book of Proverbs, it's said, contains the rules that Solomon lived by to attain and keep success.
I was a bit skeptical about the book when I started; I'm always concerned when the Bible is cited as the only source of information necessary to achieve some goal. I had to say, though, that I was pleasantly surprised. I may even pick up a Bible to more thoroughly read Proverbs, as it seems that there really is some great and insightful information there.
The author, Steven K. Scott, isn't a great writer by any stretch of the imagination. I can't say that I enjoy his writing style in the least, but it was decent enough to continue reading the entire book. The chapters are crammed with examples of what happens when following Solomon's advice, and also what happens when the advice isn't heeded. Many of these examples lack evidence and there are a lot of generalities. His points would have been better served by hypothetical examples rather than trying to align well-known events with his viewpoints.
Perhaps the most ironic part of the book was reading about humility. Scott points out that Proverbs indicates the importance of humility in happiness and success. He says this in a book where he mentions how wealthy he is literally in every chapter. It seems that whenever possible, Scott wishes to remind you of his wealth, alternating between stories of how great a marketer he is because he made millions or explaining a bad investment where he lost millions. To be honest, his personal examples could have been completely dropped and the book's points would have still easily been made. Scott comes across as an arrogant know-it-all rather than a guide, which is what I think he should have tried to be. Perhaps some humility would have helped.
Aside from the overarching preachy, "I know best" attitude that pervades the entire book, the advice actually is quite solid. I was particularly impressed with the chapter entitled, "Overcoming the Most Destructive Force in Relationships," which is all about anger. I've read several other books on dealing with emotions such as anger (the best, by the way, is Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh) and I thought that the advice given here fell inline with a lot of the best advice I've read.
Overall, The Richest Man Who Ever Lived is a worth a read. If you can get past the tone of the book and the frequent references to how rich the author is, you'll find a significant amount of really good advice. The advice spans all parts of life, including business endeavors and relationships. Does Solomon have all the answers? Probably not, especially since he became a victim of his own pride later in life and lost all the power and wealth he had attained. Still, the book of Proverbs contains practical advice that we'd all be better off following. And I never would have known that without this book.