Acres of Diamond - Book Review – Russell Conwell

This is a motivational speech that used to be delivered by Russell Conwell in various towns around USA in the early years of last century. Russell Conwell was a very good Speaker and he used to attract a large crowd. He had been in the army earlier and later in life he became a clergy man and established churches. He was a person who encouraged working people to study further. Hence, with his organizational capabilities, he mobilized resources to build the Temple University.

He used to go to various towns and give motivational speeches. Acres of Diamond is one of his most famous speech. In this speech, he talks about a story of a Persian farmer who lived not very far from river Indus. He had a farm land and was getting enough produce to live a happy life. He was thus a rich man because he was happy and contented. Then, one fine day, a Buddhist priest told him about diamonds, those precious stones with which he could buy anything he wanted. That night, he went to sleep as a poor man. He had not lost any of his wealth, yet he was no more happy, nor content as he kept thinking about getting diamonds. So, he sold his farm, and went off in search of diamonds. He went all over different places, lost all his money and died a pauper.

Years later the same Buddhist priest came to the farm again. He enquired about the farmer to the present owner and understood that he died a pauper in search of diamonds. But the new owner discovered diamond mines right in heart of the same farmland and became immensely wealthy. The diamond mines of Golconda were thus discovered.

The author says that by recognizing the potential that is available in your own town, own place, you can, with virtue of hard work, become successful and wealthy. That is the acres of diamond that is lying in front of you. It is the potential within each one of us that he wanted to highlight.

He gives the examples of various men and women who had succeeded in life by doing the above.

While this is a motivational classic, and the message it gives is timeless, I felt that because of the time lapse (more than 100 years), the stories and style is outdated. A motivational speaker today may not use these examples and techniques. But for that time and age, it was probably the best.

One thing to be noted is that Russell Conwell says in his speech that Golconda diamond mines were thus discovered. Actually, Golconda mines are near Hyderabad, India and it was not Persians who discovered it. Neither is it any close to the Indus river. So, this seems to be a big factual error. But since it is a story, a fictional Golconda could be anywhere. Though he has the literary liberty on that, I felt, Russell should have used some other name for the mine instead of Golconda.

Overall, I can say that one can read the book just once, as Russell is a big figure in American history and this is one of the most repeated speech that reached and inspired millions in those days. 

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