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)
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.
Mike @ CustomChess.com
The writing in this book was great. The author presents all the information in a logical, linear way that is easy to follow, and does a great job of capturing the essence of Andrew Carnegie. Grover Gardner does a fantastic job of reading capturing the inflection of the author as well. The peoblem is that Andrew Carnegie was not really all that intersting. He was involved in some inovating and exciting things early in his life which led him to accumulate a fair amount of money. From his early 30's on, however, he basically just functioned as a source of capital, while relying on the brains and hard work of others to do the bulk of the work in building his fortune. Meanwhile he flitted around the world traveling and fishing and what not. Then, he spent the latter part of his life trying to influence others to accomplish great things... again, trying to rely on them to actually do the work. Even his philanthropy work was, for the most part, delegated to others. Then, he relied on the hard work of his trustees to do good works with the funds. Carnegie was a smart man who knew how to surround himself with talented, hard working people who could achieve great things for him. In the end, however, he personally didn't significantly contribute much or accomplish much on his own. The exception to that perhaps being his philosophy of philanthropy. There are more intersting people to read about from the same period, such as Rockefeller or the Morgans.
David Nasaw seriously needs to produce an abridged version of this book
I enjoyed the stories of elaborate vacations across the world which took up more time than Carnegie's business activities.
The account of the violent confrontation at Carnegie's Homestead factory in 1892 was extremely good - balanced and yet very compelling.
Great biography and very informative. Just very long.
the very best
The volume of the book is quite staggering but I never thought of quitting at any part as i have done with some books in the past. As someone who has read both his biography of himself and David Nasaw's, this story of Andrew Carnegie gives another perspective on the life of a real titan of industry and world affairs in an enjoyable narrative starting from pre-birth to the very end. Great read!
Entrepreneur using Audible to fill the endless hours spent traversing this wonderful land until Google finishes their car!
A well put together biography with the right level of detail into the life of Andrew Carnegie. You see him not as a unapproachable titan destined to where he ended, but as a nuanced man with the typical characteristics we all have, with the advantage of having been a "boy in the room" at the right time to get his capitalistic start.
Say something about yourself!
Nice performance, very good language, but the story itself... well, it could have been a better drama for such a cornerstone of the American history.
Too much history - when someone was sick and why - too much info - too long! Take the short version! Great story though - self made and hustled - I liked it!
Rockefellers - same thing as above!
The author David Nasaw does a fair job portraying Carnegie;.But He Forgot a very important and historic quantum leap detail.
In the end, this book, although very long, is well written, so that the pages fly quickly.
Carnegie enlisted Napoleon Hill to interview 500 millionaires to obtain the Magic Formula of Success with out pay and took Hill's over 20 years to accomplish this work, but the author did not include any reference about this important historic event, I guess I got really discouraged and will not recommend this book.
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