Nathanael West's grim attack on Horatio Algerism in A Cool Million is lost entirely on Guilford Dudley, Jr. Dudley's pantheon of inspiration includes not only Alger but such sound exponents of positive thinking as Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, John Glenn, J. C. Penney and even Napoleon. Dudley himself has more than a touch of the Napoleonic in these essays which were written as moral samplers for life insurance salesmen. Dudley heads the Life & Casualty Insurance Company of Tennessee, which he rebuilt from the bottom up following the Depression. His central theses adhere to a foggy metaphor he uses in which a man's success is likened to the erection of a sky-scraper. Self-analysis is a careful survey of the site; goals are blueprints; self-confidence is the necessary steel; knowledge is mortar; courage keeps the structure from crumbling, and so on. When Dudley's trumpet sounds loudest, the bromides flow like seltzer from the fort of capitalism: ""Dream Big!"" ""Stay Fit!"" ""And Work!"" Neither West nor Terry Sothern could match such cutting self-parody.