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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.
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.
29 of 31 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up Andrew Carnegie in three words, what would they be?
Interesting and detailed
Would you recommend Andrew Carnegie to your friends? Why or why not?
Very interesting insight into 19th Century capitalism through the life of its greatest success story.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
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.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful
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.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
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.
21 of 27 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
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.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
I would recommend this story because in encompasses the history of late nineteenth and early twentieth century America.<br/><br/>Andrew Carnegie was, in some ways, a pathetic, silly little man who was extremely lucky. He was always in the right place at the right time and knew how to use his luck. He stole from his workers, his country, and his business partners and managed to get away without paying his dues.<br/><br/>His life shows the tragedy of the American Dream. He succeeded, but at what cost to others?
What was one of the most memorable moments of Andrew Carnegie?
The saddest part of the book, and the most moving, was Carnegie's attempts to affect American politics, specifically his Peace initiatives. I am a big supporter of peace movements, but reading about Carnegie's efforts, I just thought how out of touch he was with the current state of world politics. The author conveyed the sadness and ridiculousness of Carnegie.
Any additional comments?
The author did a wonderful job of enlightening us on the current world based upon Carnegie's life over 100 years ago without any over politicizing. This is a great book....
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
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.
9 of 12 people found this review helpful
Carnegie wrote letters profusely and you get to know the man and his amazing story. It was a little annoying that the author clearly hated Carnegie for being a capitalist, but Andrew's character shines through regardless.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This was a decent read but my God was it long! I feel like the book could easily have been cut in half and would have told a story equal in history, dialog, and content. This one just seemed to drag on and on, and on.
The book talks about the childhood and young adulthood of Mr. Carnegie, but cuts right to the chase. He makes himself a millionaire in the first 1/10 of the book and the rest id spent discussing his philanthropies, which though interesting, becomes dry at times.
I’m more interested in how he made his money and since he did it so young, there really isn’t much to tell in that regard. And since he saved darn near every correspondence throughout his life the book subject the reader to often dull and un-interesting introspects of his life. Even his love life seemed dull.
I don’t regret the time I spent listening to the dialog, as there are many interesting facts that kept me tuned in. I was just hoping for a biography that placed more focus on how he made his millions versus how he spent it.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A well researched and insightful account of the now iconic Andrew Carnegie.
Riveting and one that you will probably come back to again.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
David Nasaw does a brilliant job of portraying Carnegie and the reading by Grover Gardner is up to his usual top standards. I would have welcomed a bit more on the social and political side of his times, such as labour relations and anti-trust moves by the government. But that is a personal preference on my part, not a criticsm of the author who keeps his narrative focussed on the man himself and his many fascinating friendships and business acquaintances. Problem is that much of Carnegie's thinking is a bit simple if not childlike. So you can't help being pleased when Mr. Frick or President Roosevelt tire of his weedling and send him a sharp reproach. At the same time, Carnegie was clearly a very genuine, clever and affable man who was well liked, at least by his friends.
interesting story about a great man and a lot to learn...very objective story and excellent narrator
A very long audio book, which is good if you like to go for very long walks.
The author is very thorough in getting in as much detail as possible, maybe too much detail, but in the end you feel that you know the full unbiased story.
I listened to it on holiday which might not have been ideal as much of it is about work.
First making money and then giving it away.
Unfortunately he wasted a lot of his valuable time trying to prevent the first world war.
I got fond of Mr Carnagie.
Very interesting and informative, it was generally well read although the performance was let down by mispronunciation of several names and places.
Any additional comments?
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.<br/><br/>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!<br/>