The Scottish-born son of a failed weaver and a mother who supported the family by binding shoes, Andrew Carnegie was the embodiment of the American dream. In his rise from a job as a bobbin boy in a cotton factory to being the richest man in the world, he was single-minded, relentless, and a major player in some of the most violent and notorious labor strikes of the time. The prototype of today's billionaire, he was a visionary in the way he earned his money and in the way he gave it away.
Nasaw explains how Carnegie made his fortune and how he tried to pull the world back from a war he predicted. Brimming with new material, personal letters, diaries, prenuptial agreements, letters to and from presidents and prime ministers, Nasaw plumbs the core of this fascinating man, fixing him in his place as one of the most compelling, elusive, and multifaceted personalities of the 20th century.
©2006 David Nasaw; (P)2007 Gildan Media Corp
"This is biography on the grand scale." (Washington Post Book World)
Fascinating! The author tells the good, the bad and the ugly about Carnegie, explaining the times and the laws. As an immigrant Carnegie goes from a poor boy to an influential millionaire, bestowing libraries and other gifts to citizens but early on learns to take time to enjoy life.
Carnegie learns through watching others and always giving his ute most to each task. At times he uses his influence to bully, at other times he is benevolent. A great overall view of the life and times in the 1800's and this world renown man.
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
First, let me state that this is a book "best served abridged"! After sloshing through the first 2 parts, I gave up and discovered everything about this man in Wikipedia. Andrew Carnegie was part of history but not a very interesting one. He got stuck on one theme and just stayed there, refusing or unable to really grasp the world around him. He didn't marry or really date until his mother died when he was 50. He hated his father for being weak. Carnegie reminded me of a highly functional idiot savant whose "savant" was knowing how to make something out of nothing. I'm not mad at him for that. What is disturbing is that this man was a vocal abolitionist who hated slavery. Yet he basically enslaved his own people in his iron and steel mills. His drive came, not from an outstanding work ethic, but from being 5 feet tall - he decided at some point he could overcome his short stature by standing on his wallet! By the time he died, he could have been a power forward in the NBA!! Again, I ain't mad at him for conning over here from Scotland and becoming a stupid rich robber baron. What bothers me is that he was aware of the devastation that his mills did in Pennsylvania, yet his idea of "giving his money away to the less fortunate" was building libraries, concert halls, and universities. Tell me how that helped the disenfranchised whom worked 12-hour shifts, 7 days a week, with not breaks? Who had time to read a book or go to a symphony? Yet he fought down striking workers who only wanted to allowed to work a regular 8-hour day in grueling, hot, unsafe conditions. He felt that he had some kind of entitlement as he raped the country who gave him a chance. Carnegie's mills only hired African-Americans as strike breakers and our people had been here about 200 years before his family! I don't get this guy at all. At least Cornelius Vanderbilt and the rest of that era's industrialists made no excuses for the bad they did nor did they try to act like they were humanitarians. I can't give this book 1-star because it does have its moments. But save your money and look "Shorty" up in Wikipedia. Way too long with no skeletons in the closet.
Interesting and detailed
Very interesting insight into 19th Century capitalism through the life of its greatest success story.
Andrew Carnegie was a very interesting man. He worked hard, took chances, and became rich. He then retreated from direct management of his operations, drove his managers relentlessly, and became even richer. He obsessed over his fortune, ground everyone including his partners under his heal, and became the richest man in the world. Then as an encore, he gave it all away. I can't say his moneymaking, made me jealous, but I learned that he was the friend and dinner companion of Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain, and that did make me jealous.
David Nasaw certainly went through a massive research effort for this book. I wish he had stopped after he had presented three good examples and then moved on to his next point.
Grover Gardner gave a steady and solid performance despite the length of the book. He deserves high marks for this effort.
Carnegie’s story is interesting, especially his early years and his life-long relationship with his birthplace. But the author's account often becomes one tedious detail after another, especially in part 4 in which he quotes virtually all of Carnegie’s weekly letters to an English friend in full. Grover Gardner is usually one of my favorite narrators, but he really flubbed this one. I noticed frequent and in some cases repeated mispronunciations of proper names including A.T. Mahan; no doubt there were others I didn’t catch. And he got a surprising number of plain words wrong; one I remember was prescient. Not a bad listen and good value for the money. But you have to be awfully interested in Andrew Carnegie to stick with it until the end.
I find Andrew Carnegie was a fascinating man, born into poverty in Scotland during a time of economic upheaval to a hardworking mother and a father who was not. In his lifetime he made and gave away millions of dollars. I learned that he was a very hard worker who appeared to intuitively know what he needed to do to take himself to the next level of success.
I bought this book from Audible and found its 32 hour and 45 minute length to be way to long. I began the book with a high level of interest and really enjoyed the first third of the book, but the remainder of the book just seemed to drone on and on. The reading of letters written by Carnegie and the people in his life held no interest for me.
Andrew’s later life of marriage and fatherhood are not covered well by this book, but that is probably because there is not a lot of information available about that part of his life. The information that is available focuses on his philanthropic pursuits, business dealings and political machinations.
I have to admit that I fast forwarded through most of this book playing it at 2x speed and toward the end I scrubbed past chunks of it that were boring me to tears.
I loved this autobiography from beginning to end. Sometimes celebrities get blown out of proportion as though they are god. This Autobiography is honest in which it shows the faults, insecurities and vulnerability of Andrew Carnegie. Despite his massive fortune and life that he lived, he was still a human being and this book portrays it perfectly.
From Newfoundland, Canada
The story was amazing I don't think the majority of people even know who he is and he was one of the most amazing men in History. He has affected life as we know it and made knowledge available to the rich and poor alike. I would have to say he is my favorite historical character. A most amazing man with vision !!
He done a great job.
No it was long but I hated for it to end!!
Buy it , But it, But it you will not be disappointed!!
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Carnegie was born in Scotland and came to America at 10 years of age. He work as a bobbin boy then a telegram delivery boy. One of the key items that struck me about Carnegie was that he did not go to school but he was driven to learn all he could and become an educated man. He learned to read and write, then set off to teach himself Morse code so he could get a job as a telegraph operator. He continue to learn from books and from people and continue to improve his job opportunities until he was a business owner and became a self made millionaire. The other item I noted was that he claimed he was interested in the workers because he was one of them. At first he accepted the unions and was reasonably good to the employers of his various business but then he seemed to turn and was ruthless in breaking the unions and poorly paid his workers and forced 12 hour shifts with NO breaks at all. He build them libraries and swimming pools but never gave them time to use them. When he retired and was giving his money away he did set up a pension plan for injured worker (in companies he had owned) and/or their families and a scholarships for their children. Maybe that was guilt. He was far more generous with strangers than his workers or partners. He was a true Robber Barron. I was very interest in the parts of the book regarding the strikes and also his philanthropy. He was a complicated man. Nasaw did a a good job of pointing out discrepancies between different biographies and what he could prove. Carnegie was a constant reader and traveler who also set out to make friends with powerful people.
Excellently written, well read, I'd give this book 5 stars except for it's length. There's probably too much detail, but I don't know what I'd take out. Still, if you know nothing about the money and power grabbing of the later 19th and early 20th century, this may be too long for a beginning.
If you get angry easily, you might want to skip this one, too. To give you an idea of the impact of this book on me - it made me wish I believed in hell. Carnegie belongs there. I've never thought that Carnegie, or any of his "peers" were generous, warm hearted people, even when they were doling money out to good causes. It surprised me, but Carnegie was even worse than I had previously thought.
David Nasaw paints a vivid picture of this self-made man as he rose to the level of "the richest man in the world." Nasaw describes the early insider deals, hustling sales of bonds and securities, the conspicous consumption in an increasingly luxurious life (especially overseas beyond the sight of the American press), and the strategies to wring profits from his steel interests while demanding 12-hour workdays and decreasing income for his workers. Nasaw also details the force employed by this friend of the working man to keep those men working long hours in dangerous tasks, breaking strikes at the cost of workmen's lives.
It's a sorry tale, but a fascinating one.
"Hard work, but worth persevering with."
This comprehensive history of Andrew Carnegie is worth persevering with. But it takes a lot of stamina! It describes Carnegie's work and life in great detail - and at times you can't help feeling you have heard something identical in a previous chapter. But the delightful Grover Gardner narrates well and helps keep your interest.
I was left with the feeling that Carnegie was perhaps not the hero he is now held up to be. Yes, he may be the godfather of philanthropy.....but his employee relations skills had some room for improvement!
"A riveting book."
A well researched and insightful account of the now iconic Andrew Carnegie.
Riveting and one that you will probably come back to again.
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