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Dollars and Sense - Book Review


"Help for the Weak, Weary, Discouraged Ones who Live in Shadowland, Cures for Worry and Fear, Backbone Instead of Wishbone."

This is Col. Wm. C. Hunter's pledge to us in his preface to Dollars and Sense. Though written over a century ago, his words still have emotional value and resonance with today's modern readers. How many of us can say we are not, or at least have not been at one time or another, denizens of our own "Shadowland"; how many of us have not been taken ill with "Worry" and "Fear"?

"Weary" is an accurate epithet even for today's age where depression, anxiety, despair and loss of self worth are so prevalent, but how relevant and healing is Hunter's book in the face of such real mental health issues and spiritual strife?

Overall, the author's tone is not so much didactic as it is personal and conversational, if not seductive. These chapters will be old friends to you... . You may read and re-read as often as you wish, for you will always find some new truths impressed on you every time you read. The truths he references are conveyed through pithy, absorbing maxims, providing us with a remedy of sorts. Hunter's work has seen a number of subsequent publishing and reproductions, owing to its one-time popularity and, what some scholars would argue, its literary feel - an attribute Hunter himself downplays.

There is no attempt to make this a literary effort... . Study the thought rather than the expression. The statement drips with a tinge of irony, seeing that the text embodies both intelligent thought, or as it were "sense", and literary flair.

Dollars and Sense offers us ninety, digestible chapters in total - or rather the acquaintance of ninety "old friends" - varying in miscellaneous topics, including one we would expect based on the clever word-play title ... money. In his prefacing note, Hunter specifically promises his book will help us to achieve financial success, but you will find no century-old get-rich- quick schemes in the work, nor any over-simplistic and cliched, 8 step-goal- setting programs. In fact, money is hardly at the heart of the book's content at all.

In short, Dollars and Sense is heavy on the sense, light on the dollars. What you can expect - that is, once you look past the gender-biased language characteristic of the historical period in which it was written - is to be, if nothing else, immersed in Hunter's universal, almost Desiderata-like wisdom.

The more haste the less speed ... . Be not impatient. Learn to wait. If you do not regard that as meme-worthy, perhaps you might the following adage:

Character counts above all things in the business world. Note ... character, as opposed to concepts like money or power. Not the motivational message you might necessarily expect from the one-time dean of the University of Connecticut's Schools of Business. (Incidentally, beyond that not much biographical information about Hunter is available through the global communication network [i.e. Internet]. All I can deduce by his title is that he had once served as a military officer. There is a story there somewhere by my reckoning, perhaps regrettably lost in history.)

The book opens with a somewhat cynical view of friends:

When you cut a melon, your friends will come with eager mouths and sit under your shade tree and help you eat it. Few of these friends would respond to your call for help when you were working in the hot sun raising that melon. However, proven friendship is among Hunter's core values, to which he devotes a chapter. There is no relationship more sacred than friendship. There is also kindness. There's nothing in business that pays so well as kindness.


The optimist raises the average of the world by his presence, the pessimist lowers the average.

And, among numerous many others, even family. The sunset of your life will not be beautiful unless your home life was pleasant during your day of work"

Altogether, Dollars and Sense offers more than just a catalogue of values and truths its author asserts we may need to "read and re-read" as an aid in our journey through Shadowland. Regardless of what individual fears or worries we are grappling with, what the nature is of our individual weaknesses and weariness, Hunter's genuine voice is, if nothing else, that of a timeless friend reaching out to us in the darkness - a darkness with which we sense he himself is all too familiar.

Verboten has curated a 1911 edition of Dollars and Sense, originally published by The Reilly & Lee Co., Chicago, and digitized it for its audience.

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Even as far back as Pythagoras, there was a tendency to manipulate the perceived value of numbers and measurements against the commoner toward controllable automation. This is the source of the desire in some to objectify others.Cult Of Numbers
Even as far back as Pythagoras, there was a tendency to manipulate the perceived value of numbers and measurements against the commoner toward controllable automation. This is the source of the desire in some to objectify others.

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