October 25, 2020

Gen Z Conservative

The thoughts of a young conservative on political issues relevant to all ages

the richest man in babylon

Review of The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason

Introduction

Sometimes, I think it is effective to reframe an issue to properly explain it. If you keep repeating the same tropes and topics, however effective they may have originally been, they will quickly lose their luster and no longer be effective. That applies as much to financial advice as anything else, which is what I think makes The Richest Man in Babylon by George S Clason such an effective and interesting to read book.

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The Richest Man in Babylon is financial and investing advice framed as the wisdom of the ancient Babylonians. For those of you that do not already know, Babylon was a city-state in ancient Mesopotamia that was famous for its immense wealth and for the productivity of its citizens. Clason uses that reputation as a way to reframe how people should treat money and their investment decisions.




Summary of The Richest Man in Babylon

The Richest Man in Babylon is, like I said, financial management advice. The main message of it is to pay your debts and invest at least ten percent of your income in investments that will provide you with additional income. In that regard, it is nothing special. That is pretty boilerplate advice that you could get from any manner of sources.

But, The Richest Man in Babylon is not Rich Habits or The Automatic Millionaire. As I said, it reframes the issue by framing it as advice from the ancient Babylonians about how to become wealthy in Babylon, rather than making it advice from yet another CPA or CFA on the importance of investing. That makes it more fun to read and interesting to read

To do that and effectively reframe the issue of getting people to understand the importance of investing and saving, Clason effectively creates a whole new world for The Richest Man in Babylon. He has a few historical details to go on, namely the huge walls, magnificent hanging gardens, and impressively large irrigation canals. But, other than those few details, most of what Clason includes in terms of the storyline is made up. The characters, the advice they give in the book, and small details about the city, while they might be true, are not really historical details. Instead, they were all created to help him prove his point and get his advice across.

And like I said, that advice, while pretty standard, is advice that many young people need to hear if they want to make money and grow wealthy. Save a portion of your income. Preferably more than ten percent, but at least ten percent. Pay off your debts, otherwise you will be a slave to them. Work hard. Protect your principal when it comes to investing. Only listen to people who know what they are talking about. All of that is great advice and Clason, through the stories he creates in The Richest Man in Babylon, does his best to hammer them into the mind of the reader.

The ancient atmosphere is what makes The Richest Man in Babylon a great book. We’ve all heard people tell us to save and invest. So, yet another book on that subject might be tiresome. But my making it the advice of ancient merchants, the first bankers, and members of one of the most prosperous ancient civilizations, Clason is able to make his advice seem fresh and like something that might be worth re-examining.

babylon from the richest man in babylon
Babylon

Analysis of The Richest Man in Bablyon

I loved reading The Richest Man in Babylon. It is a short book, so it only took me a couple of hours to finish. But, the entire time I spent reading it, I was captivated. Clason not only provides sound financial advice, but he also uses a compelling storyline through which he is able to provide that advice. Merchants, bankers, laborers, former slaves, and even the king all opine about the ways to grow wealthy and how only those with sound financial sense and what would now be called “The Millionaire Mindare able to hold onto the money they earn.




In another format, that might not be particularly original advice. We have all heard it before. But, it is good advice that people need to learn. So, I think Clason’s decision to set The Richest Man in Babylon in ancient Babylon was a wise one. The new environment and the boundless opportunity in it help show the reader the path to wealth. Plus, the liklihood that the advice in the book is actually true and is something the Babylonians might have been telling each other makes the book even better. It might be fiction, but it is certainly believable.

Finally, I think it is important that Clason does such a good job of world-building in The Richest Man in Babylon. The dialogue between characters is reminiscent of that in the Old Testament of the Bible, which makes it more believable. So to does the description of the jobs and work involved, the use of “gold” and “silver” rather than dollars, and his general depiction of Babylonian society.

I am by no means an expert in ancient history. So I have no way of knowing if what Clason describes Babylonian society as being like is a faithful rendition of that society. But, I do appreciate a good-faith attempt to make a historical environment seem real. And the Babylon of The Richest Man in Babylon does feel real.

That is important because it gives credence to Clason’s assertions about how the Babylonians treated finance. If the dialogue or setting were not believable, then his advice would not be either. But, because the world created in The Richest Man in Babylon as a means by which to teach the reader how to grow wealthy feels so real, so does Clason’s advice about saving and investing.

Conclusion

Read The Richest Man in Babylon. It is a short book, so you will be done with it in no time. But, it is not at all a waste of time. In fact, it will probably reinforce your inner will to keep saving and investing, which is certainly a good thing.




Furthermore, I think The Richest Man in Babylon is important because it shows that, in some cases, fictional books are not a waste of time to read. If the lessons at the root of them are worth reading, then the book is too. Even if it’s fiction. Atlas Shrugged is another great example of that.

So, read The Richest Man in Babylon. It is a book that was published in 1926 and has stuck around as a “classic” in financial literature ever since, mainly because the parables in it are so useful. Therefore, it is certainly worth your time and might make you wealthy. Take the short amount of time required to read it, you won’t be disappointed.

By: Gen Z Conservative


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