Eye Female Fun Glass Hold HumanCredit: pixabay - Public Domain PicturesThe Greatest Mystery in the World is said to be Augustine “Og” Mandino’s final book. Mandino was an American author born on December 12, 1923. After high school, he worked in a paper factory until 1942 and subsequently joined the US Army Air Corps and became a military officer and bombardier. When his military duties were complete, he became an insurance salesman. Unfortunately, he also became an alcoholic. His wife, Miriam, also left him during this time. He almost attempted suicide, but that’s when he discovered various personal development and success books in a library. Eventually, Mandino became the successful speaker and writer that many of us remember him as.

The Greatest Mystery in the World is heartfelt and evocative rather than heady and intellectual. Many books in the same genre focus on providing information rather than utilizing the power of storytelling or appealing to the reader’s emotions and desires. This book is encouraging and impacting. You will remember it long after you forget other works that don’t offer the same level of human connection.


Perhaps you’ve read self-development and leadership books before, but as I’ve hinted at already, this one is quite unique. Instead of covering the many aspects of personal growth and categorizing them and putting them under different headings and summarizing them in lists, this book begins with a story. If you have already read other Mandino books, then you know what you’re in for. However, first time readers may wonder if this is indeed a book about success principles at all after the first few chapters.

OgMandinoInspirationalwriter.jpgCredit: http://www.ogmandino.com/ogstory/ogsfacts.htmHowever, his fable draws you in. Mandino describes his mysterious meeting and friendship with Simon Potter, an older man he comes to enjoy conversing and spending time with. Their shared interest in spirituality and success creates a strong bond between them. However, one day, Simon vanishes from Mandino’s life and is nowhere to be found. Mandino’s wife seems to suggest that he was an “angel”.

Years later, when Mandino moves in to a new home, he once again discovers Simon and the two pick up where they left off. Eventually, Simon passes away. Mandino discovers some writings that Simon left for him, and as he begins reading them, the focus of the book shifts gears to the success principles Simon had collected, revised and expounded on from works he described as “hand of God” books.

The reader is then taken on a journey through the seven rungs of life’s ladder, a roadmap for personal success and spiritual elevation. Each “rung” is the closest this book ever comes to having “categories” or specific areas of growth.  The seven rungs are made up of various public domain works, written by respected authors like James Allen and Oscar Wilde. Their words have been edited, distilled, and at other times, they have also been quoted verbatim. 

My Thoughts

Og Mandino utilizes the power of storytelling to carry the message of success authors from days past and simultaneously creates in the reader an emotional connection to the story. I think he is wise in doing that, because, there is nothing that appeals to the humanity within each of us more than the inherent power of story. A story isn’t concrete. A story isn’t trying to find credibility. A story is easy to relate to. Mandino weaves the practicality and challenge of personal growth into the sometimes disorderly reality of life. After all, life isn't always as neatly organized as so many books are.

In saying that, it’s far more challenging to find reason to criticize a book that isn’t trying to sell something or sound smart. It isn’t trying to force authority on the reader. This book is incredibly well written. There is clearly a lot of love and care behind this labor, and its intention is clear. Mandino wants to pass on the wisdom he found in his favorite books and to encourage others to “dig deep” in their own way.


I can’t say whether or not this book will connect with everyone. If you’ve spent time in personal growth and spiritual books, you’ll have a better foundation on which to relate to it. The story within is certainly interesting, but, unless you are already engaged in self-development or you are looking to begin, you may not find the seven rungs of life an effortless read.

For me, it was not a hard read at all. The language is straightforward and has clearly been thought through. My personal growth journey began back in 2007, so I already have a decent number of books, audio programs, podcasts and seminars under my belt. Conversely, I didn’t feel as though I was reading anything new here. There are always golden eggs and little gems to be found if you go looking for them, but after a certain point you don’t necessarily marvel and hang on every word. Even so, I’ve never stopped highlighting and underlining sections that speak to me; same with this book.

If the overview caught your attention, chances are good that you will enjoy this read.

The Greatest Mystery in the World
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(price as of May 11, 2015)