Book Review: Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill

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Did you know that the book “Outwitting the Devil” by Napoleon Hill was kept hidden for over 70 years? Luckily, Sharon Lechter edited and added notes to Hill’s original manuscript to help modern readers understand the timeless advice for achieving success in life.

Through this book, you’ll learn about Hill’s thoughts on the obstacles that can hold us back in life and how to overcome them. It’s a great read for anyone looking to improve their mindset and achieve their goals.

You may be wondering if you should read the book. This book summary will tell you everything about this book so you can decide if it is worth your time.

Without further ado, let’s get started. 

Key Insights

Lesson 1: To succeed, positivity and clear goals are imperative.

Having a clear understanding of what you want in life is crucial to achieving success. Napoleon Hill, the author of Outwitting the Devil, credits part of his success to knowing exactly what he wanted. To achieve your goals, you need to have a plan on how to get there, and it all starts with identifying what you want.

It’s essential to note that no institution, not even a church or school, can make these decisions for you. Everyone has the opportunity to act independently, and it’s up to you to decide what you want to achieve. Even during challenging times, you have the power to choose whether to fill your mind with positive or negative thoughts.

During the Great Depression, many people struggled to make ends meet. Still, others maintained their optimism and achieved remarkable results, such as Henry Ford, who founded one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the United States. Despite the widespread pessimism of the times, Ford overcame his fears and succeeded in realizing his vision of an affordable car for middle-class Americans.

The key factor that determines your success is your attitude. By maintaining an optimistic outlook and working towards a specific goal, you can avoid becoming one of those aimless people. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency is a great example of how a determined plan and an optimistic attitude can lead to success. His goal was to end the widespread panic that had gripped the country since the beginning of the Great Depression and direct the country’s energies towards a successful economic recovery. By replacing fear with faith, he was able to take control and put the country back on track.

Remember, you get back in life what you put into it. If you approach life with a positive attitude and work diligently towards your goals, your efforts will bear fruit. Having a clear goal in mind can prove beneficial in achieving success, but it all starts with a positive mindset.

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Lesson 2: Positive habits and support from others are critical to success.

We all have bad habits, and it’s easy to make excuses for them. But what happens when these behaviors become habits? They can have a significant impact on our lives. In Napoleon Hill’s book “Outwitting the Devil,” he talks about the “law of hypnotic rhythm,” which states that our susceptibility to habits increases as they become more ingrained in our daily lives.

Whether it’s drinking alcohol, overeating, or engaging in destructive behavior patterns, these habits can quickly take over our lives. They can negatively impact our health, productivity, and overall well-being.

One of the most critical aspects of our habits is the people we surround ourselves with. Successful people understand the importance of associating with those who share their positive qualities. It’s essential to be cautious of the habits of those around us, as we tend to adopt the behaviors of those we spend time with.

In his book, Hill looks up to his mentor, Andrew Carnegie, a successful business mogul who refused to accept his lot in life. Carnegie sought out other powerful people to surround himself with, recognizing the importance of positive associations. If we want to improve our lives, it’s crucial to seek out optimistic associates who can uplift and motivate us.

Lesson 3: One grows from their setbacks when they achieve something.

Have you ever given up on a goal or venture because of past disappointments? If so, you’re not alone. However, successful people know that setbacks are only temporary obstacles. They see potential in every setback and keep pushing forward until they achieve their dreams.

One such example is Thomas Edison, who invented the first practical light bulb and the first practical phonograph, among many other groundbreaking innovations. But before any of his dreams came true, he experienced a series of failures numbering in the dozens. Despite this, he overcame many obstacles and earned a place in history through his determination.

During the Great Depression, the book “Think and Grow Rich” was published to help people see past their circumstances. It emphasized the importance of setting goals, even in the most hopeless of times. Despite being written in 1937, it remains a top ten bestseller.

Another example of overcoming setbacks is Jules Krone, a female jockey who was repeatedly told she could not become a professional rider. However, she refused to let the negative thoughts of others stop her and continued to show up until she convinced stable owners to let her ride. Eventually, she became the champion and was hailed as one of the most resilient athletes of all time.

The key takeaway from these examples is that setbacks are temporary emotional states. There’s no reason to dwell on failure any longer than necessary. Instead, focus on your goals and keep pushing forward, even in the face of adversity. Don’t let the negative thoughts of others stop you from pursuing your dreams.

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1. Identifying the Devil’s thoughts

The book offers a unique perspective on how the devil works and how he influences our thoughts. By identifying the thoughts that are not from us, we can hear God more clearly. We need to understand that financial struggles and any financial illiteracy are from the devil. Negative thoughts are also from the devil. By being aware of these thoughts, we can avoid them and focus on positive thinking that will help us achieve our goals.

2. Keys to Success

The book emphasizes the importance of having qualities such as patience, perseverance, endurance, courage, faith, hope, love, and helping others, which are keys to success. It also shows that praying to God for money is pointless because we have the God-given power to make money ourselves. God’s will is for us to prosper, but godly prosperity might not look like how society defines success. It’s crucial to be aware of what true success means and to pursue it with the right mindset.

3. Freedom from Slavery

The book inspires readers to think for themselves and be successful, which is the ultimate freedom from slavery. By becoming non-drifters and thinking for ourselves, the devil has no control over us. The book encourages readers to identify the lies from the devil and to read the Bible, where they can find true keys to success.


1. Religious Implications

The book’s content has strong religious implications that might not sit well with everyone. Some readers might find the book’s emphasis on the devil’s influence and the importance of God’s will to be too heavy-handed. Moreover, the book’s unconventional take on religion might clash with certain religious beliefs, making it a challenging read for some.

2. Unsubstantiated Claims

The book contains several claims that are not supported by factual evidence. For instance, the book claims that the devil’s biggest oppositions were historical figures such as Socrates, Confucius, Abraham Lincoln, and others.

However, this claim lacks evidence and is purely speculative. Additionally, the book claims that all financial struggles and illiteracy are the work of the devil, which might oversimplify the complex economic and societal factors that contribute to poverty.

3. Limited Scope

The book has a limited scope and focuses solely on the financial/business aspect of life. While it offers practical advice on how to achieve success in those areas, it overlooks the other aspects of life, such as relationships, health, and personal growth. This narrow focus might leave some readers feeling unsatisfied and searching for more comprehensive solutions to their problems.


Outwitting the Devil is a great book I’d like to recommend to anyone who is interested in personal development. If you spend some time digesting the ideas, it might make a positive impact on your life.

We all think of both positive and negative things. There are times when we should listen to that voice and other times when we should listen to the voice that tells us to give up.

The good news is that we have the ability to overlook the pessimism and suppress the fear that prevents many people from achieving their dreams.

By facing our fears, harnessing the power of positive thinking, and sticking to a well-thought-out plan, we can all triumph over failure and realize our deepest desires.

About The Author

Entrepreneur and author Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) was an American. It is considered to be among the top ten best-selling self-help books of all time and was one of the first to popularize the modern self-help genre.

Sharon Lechter is a successful American businesswoman dedicated to the improvement of financial education for teens and young adults. 

She is the spokesperson for the CPA Financial Literacy Commission, the founder of Pay Your Family First and the creator of Thrive Time for Teens, an award-winning board game for financial literacy.

Buy The Book: Outwitting the Devil

If you want to buy the book Outwitting the Devil, you can get it from the following links:

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