I wrote this book during the 1960s and it was published in 1969. It is a source of immense satisfaction to have this opportunity to write a new Preface for the 32nd anniversary edition. Although I have written many books since this one, for a significant number of my readers it remains their favorite of my works. Certainly it laid the foundation for everything I wrote subsequently about self-esteem.
Are there things that I would do differently if I were writing the book today? Of course. It is impossible for an author to reread a book written more than three decades ago and not feel, "Today I could do it better." However, I have chosen to leave the book in its original form—unedited and unchanged—for this edition. It has, I am convinced, an integrity, or internal logic, that would be undermined if I attempted to co-mingle it with perspectives arrived at later.
This book is more philosophical than most of my subsequent writings, which I do not regret, and more moralistic, if only by implication—which I do regret. Its ethical vision is narrower than that offered in such books of mine as The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem (1995) and The Art of Living Consciously (1997). And yet people in the fields of publishing and psychology tell me repeatedly that this book has done more to awaken consciousness concerning the importance of self-esteem to human well-being than any other single work. If true, I am proud of that. I struggle to make real, at the age of seventy, that I made my first notes on self esteem while still in my twenties and began writing this book when I was thirty-three.
Wanting to offer the reader some sense of how my thinking about self-esteem has developed, I offer an Epilogue entitled