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The book, Acres of Diamonds, is a transcript of a speech delivered by Russell Conwell over 6,000 times to congregations over the world. The speeches were delivered mainly in his capacity as a clergyman.

Conwell lived a long and interesting life, as a civil war hero, writer, lawyer, lecturer, philanthropist, Baptist minister, and the founder of Temple University in Philadelphia. Acres of Diamonds was first published in book form in 1890.

Concepts that come up throughout this book include opportunity, money, business, character, family, and wealth.

Conwell set the backdrop of his speeches on a parable he heard from an old Arab guide while travelling along the Tigris and Euphrates river (present-day Iraq) in 1870. The story relates to a man, Ali Hafed, who lived a contented life close to the river Indus. He was a wealthy farmer owning large farms and gardens in what is present-day Iran.

One day he was visited by a Buddhist priest who told him all about diamonds in distant lands. The priest painted a pretty picture of what diamonds were worth and how Ali Hafed could become a man of greater power and stature if he were to discover diamonds.

Ali Hafed went to bed that night feeling very poor and discontented. He ended up selling his farm and belongings, left his family, and embarked on a search for diamonds. He wandered around Palestine and Europe, and after losing all his money and in rags, committed suicide in Barcelona, Spain.

Meanwhile, back in Persia (Iran), the man who had bought Ali Hafed’s farm found a diamond while watering his animals at a stream that runs through the land. The farm would go on to yield acres of diamonds and be famously referred to as the diamond mines of Golconda.

The message in Conwell’s lecture is clear. You can find success where you are right now! He goes on to narrate several other stories of people fruitlessly going in search of wealth in faraway places while they already had a fortune buried in their own backyard.

Timeless quotes from Acres of Diamonds

Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas; they are in your own backyard if you dig for them.

Begin where you are and what you are.

You cannot trust a man with your money who cannot take care of his own.

Money is power, and you ought to be reasonably ambitious to have it. You ought because you can do more good with it than you could without it.

Abraham Lincoln’s principle for greatness can be adopted by nearly all. This was his rule: whatsoever he had to do at all, he put his whole mind into it and held it there until that was all done.

The really great man is a plain, straightforward, everyday, commonsense man.

Some things that stood out for me in the book

  • Opportunities for success abound all around us. If we can search deep within us; stay open, vigilant, and use our talents, we can tap into wealth wherever we find ourselves. Bloom where you are planted!
  • The grass is not always greener on the other side.
  • For business success, find out what people really want and make it available to them.
  • Family is important.

Some may find the language used in the book somewhat outdated. Additionally, the arrangement of the book may appear weird because it appears to be literally the direct transcript of Conwell’s lecture. Despite these “cons”, Acres of Diamonds remains a classic and a timeless read even today for anyone looking to achieve personal and financial success.

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