Outwitting the Devil

Napoleon Hill’s Lost Book

(From Four Minute Summaries)

The book Outwitting the Devil is a work of non-fiction written in 1938 by Napoleon Hill and considered too controversial to be published in its era. The book was written as an interview between Hill (Mr. Earthbound) and the devil (our inner dark self), wherein Hill attempts to uncover the secrets to freedom and success by evaluating the greatest obstacles that humans face in order to attain their personal goals in life. Outwitting the Devil was released by Sterling Publishing  in June, 2011, with annotations by Sharon Lechter.  

Throughout the story, “Mr. Earthbound” interrogates “Your Majesty”, to find out how people limit their success and how Satan achieves his manipulation. Topics discussed in Outwitting the Devil include:

  • The difference between drifters and non-drifters
  • Maintaining a definiteness of purpose
  • Finding one’s other self
  • Hill’s seven principles
  • The law of hypnotic rhythm

After the release of Hill’s legendary self-help book Think and Grow Rich in 1937 (perhaps America’s first real self-help book) Hill began writing Outwitting the Devil as an explanation of why some were still seeing failure after following all of the steps in Think and Grow Rich. His wife, Annie Lou, did not want the book published because of the role the Devil played in it.

When Hill died in 1970, the manuscript went into the possession of Annie Lou, who died in 1984. After her death, the manuscript went into the hands of Dr. Charles Johnson, who was Annie Lou’s nephew and president of the Napoleon Hill Foundation. While Dr. Johnson believed the book’s message to be powerful, his wife, Frankie Johnson, shared Annie Lou’s feelings and told Dr. Johnson that she did not want the manuscript published while she was alive.

After Frankie’s death, Dr. Johnson passed the manuscript to Don Green, CEO of the Napoleon Hill Foundation. Sharon Lechter was then asked to edit the manuscript, and after several years of annotations and reviews, it was released in June, 2011.

* * *

Like a lot of things in my life these days, awareness of Napoleon Hill’s Outwitting the Devil arrived in a serendipitous manner this morning from my good friend Michael Larsen. Mike and his late wife Elizabeth Pomada founded the Larsen Pomada Literary Agency in San Francisco which grew to become one of the most successful literary agencies on the West Coast. Mike and I became friends when he read my self-published biography of John Coltrane titled Spirit Catcher. Out mutual love of jazz led to many jazz outings in the city over the years as well as epic trips to Amoeba Records (the world’s largest record store) in Haight Ashbury.

Since Elizabeth’s passing a few years ago, Mike has moved from being a literary agent to an author coach. Those interested in being coached by one of the best can contact him at Mike Larsen Author Coaching. For the past few years, I have been receiving daily emails from Mike highlighting all types of fascinating things on the Internet.

Today’s post featured “12 Self-Help Classics Worth Knowing About” from Four Minute Books. I read through the list. Napoleon Hill’s “lost book” Outwitting the Devil was one of the books. I read the four minute summary and was fascinated by its message. I then went to YouTube and watched the short presentation on it presented at the top of this post. Yes, a simple, unsophisticated cartoonish presentation in the midst of our modern world of spectacular visual content. Yet – for me – so much truth in this short little presentation.

We direct so much attention and anger at all the “other devils” today. But Hill reminds (in the same way that Carl Jung does) that this devil is not really externally – in others – but internally within ourselves. Thanks (again) to my old friend Mike for another one of his wonderful daily posts and his direction towards positive and uplifting things in life.


Buy Outwitting the Devil on Amazon.

Read a free PDF of Outwitting the Devil below.

2 thoughts on “Outwitting the Devil

  1. How intriguing – advice to work for free for 20 years accumulating experiences and learning, then leave there to find a paid career. The first – is my avocation, my purpose, my mission in life – the God-given pursuit of my unique purpose. John, you are remarkable. How do you find this stuff?
    Then I read the last pages (first and last, early and late, just to get the flavor…) for the instructions from across time (the 6th sense) as though time does not matter to the greater being.
    5 senses + time and then we find ourselves reaching for what is beyond that. The IMPORTANT stuff. The essential meanings and lessons in life. Thanks again John. You are a remarkable hunter/connector!

  2. I think Caroline has summed it up very nicely….I think John you find this stuff because you are a person who likes to talk to other people and discover all you can about them. You become interested, and through your relationships you find time to be their friend and are interested in learning all you can…a wonderful friend, a great listener, and a fair judge of people …thanks for being you John, a dear, dear remarkable friend….Barbara

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