Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie

by David Nasaw

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Overview

A New York Times bestseller!

The definitive account of the life of Andrew Carnegie 

Celebrated historian David Nasaw, whom The New York Times Book Review has called "a meticulous researcher and a cool analyst," brings new life to the story of one of America's most famous and successful businessmen and philanthropists—in what will prove to be the biography of the season.

Born of modest origins in Scotland in 1835, Andrew Carnegie is best known as the founder of Carnegie Steel. His rags to riches story has never been told as dramatically and vividly as in Nasaw's new biography. Carnegie, the son of an impoverished linen weaver, moved to Pittsburgh at the age of thirteen. The embodiment of the American dream, he pulled himself up from bobbin boy in a cotton factory to become the richest man in the world. He spent the rest of his life giving away the fortune he had accumulated and crusading for international peace. For all that he accomplished and came to represent to the American public—a wildly successful businessman and capitalist, a self-educated writer, peace activist, philanthropist, man of letters, lover of culture, and unabashed enthusiast for American democracy and capitalism—Carnegie has remained, to this day, an enigma.

Nasaw explains how Carnegie made his early fortune and what prompted him to give it all away, how he was drawn into the campaign first against American involvement in the Spanish-American War and then for international peace, and how he used his friendships with presidents and prime ministers to try to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. With a trove of new material—unpublished chapters of Carnegie's Autobiography; personal letters between Carnegie and his future wife, Louise, and other family members; his prenuptial agreement; diaries of family and close friends; his applications for citizenship; his extensive correspondence with Henry Clay Frick; and dozens of private letters to and from presidents Grant, Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt, and British prime ministers Gladstone and Balfour, as well as friends Herbert Spencer, Matthew Arnold, and Mark Twain—Nasaw brilliantly plumbs the core of this facinating and complex man, deftly placing his life in cultural and political context as only a master storyteller can.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101201794
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/30/2007
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 896
Sales rank: 265,005
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

David Nasaw is the author of Andrew Carnegie and The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst. He is the Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Professor of History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"The definitive work on Carnegie for the foreseeable future, and it fully deserves to be."
- John Steele Gordon, The New York Times

"Never has this story been told so thoroughly or so well as David Nasaw tells it in this massive and monumental biography."
-Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

"Beautifully crafted and fun to read."
- Louis Galambos, The Wall Street Journal

"The definitive Carnegie biography has arrived."
-USA Today

"Nasaw delivers a vivid history of nineteenth-century capitalism."
-Fortune

Customer Reviews

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Andrew Carnegie 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
On Feb. 4, 1901, Andrew Carnegie sold his steel-making business for an unprecedented $400 million (worth about $120 billion now). With that sale, he became 'The Richest Man in the World,' according to J.P. Morgan, who bought Carnegie's company and used it as the basis of U.S. Steel. But if you want to learn how to become the richest person in your part of the world, that's not the purpose of this biography. Instead David Nasaw minutely depicts an authentic tragic comedy in more than 800 pages, the life of an impoverished, painfully short immigrant lad who succeeded during the Gilded Age of capitalism, becoming a robber baron, philanthropist and 'peacenik.' The author uncovers many of the secret operations Carnegie used to exploit his early employers and, later, his gullible investors. This account corrects biographies that omit Carnegie's shady railroad bonds and union busting. The author also explains how Carnegie used his wealth to become one of the world's greatest philanthropists, a significant legacy that endures through the institutions and libraries he endowed. We highly recommend this detailed history for its iconoclastic scholarship, profound soul-searching and fascinating portrait of a unique, contradictory person.
robjenmt More than 1 year ago
I found the book was 100 percent on the money as to what was promised in the forward of the book. presently I am on page 500 of 750. I wish it was page 500 nof 500. The book is good but I have spent enough time on the subject by this point. I will continue because it is a still well written book.
MikeMcLin More than 1 year ago
I definitely respect the research and the story. Thanks to Mr. Nasaw for the work, but I believe it was the interesting character of Andrew Carnegie that got me through this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is the perfect combination of the author and the subject.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book will inspire, encourage and motivate you as a reader to be a dreamer and a doer just like Andrew Carnegie.
ALincolnNut on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
David Nasaw, author of the much-honored biography of William Randolph Hurst, "The Chief," sets his sights on another rich titan of the Industrial Age, Andrew Carnegie. The resulting biography, simply titled "Andrew Carnegie," is a massive work, measuring over 800 pages, with another 50 pages of notes and bibliography.Nasaw presents Carnegie as an almost indomitable force of nature, confident of his own abilities and point of view even as a young man. An immigrant to the United States as a child, along with his mother and brother, Carnegie seems a precocious teenager, eager to work, impressing his bosses with his abilities and work ethic, and evidently invited by them to begin investing in their ventures. Soon enough, Carnegie owns his own company, which he parlays over time into the massive Carnegie Steel empire.Having achieved this vast fortune, Carnegie focused his energies on two other goals, even as he oversaw his industrial company. First, Carnegie desired to become a man of letters, admired for his published writings and sought after for his opinion on economic and political issues. Second, and perhaps as a consequence of the first, Carnegie dreamed of becoming a great philanthropist who, before his death, would give away his entire fortune to benevolent organizations.Using these three overarching aspects as the framework for Carnegie's biography, Nasaw details the complex relationships he had with many people, including his mother, his brother, his wife, his daughter, and his main business associates, particularly Henry Clay Frick. The portraits of these relationships, and his nuanced presentation of Carnegie as a man who desires to be both esteemed as a colleague and respected as a father-figure, is probably the most successful part of Nasaw's biography.In addition, Nasaw offers an exhaustive look at Carnegie as a would-be man of letters, drawing not only on Carnegie's published pamphlets and newspaper columns, but on his extensive correspondence, particularly with political leaders in the United States and England. From Nasaw's treatment alone, it would seem that Carnegie achieved the status and respect he craved.Less successful is the description of Carnegie's rise from immigrant poverty to wealthy industrialist. While Nasaw focuses several chapters on this, it seems unclear how Carnegie actually achieved such wealth. There is an explicit suggestion that his infant iron company benefited from price collusion agreements with Pennsylvania railroad companies, but no real presentation of how Carnegie acquired the capital to start an iron company in the first place. Later stories about how Carnegie relied on the business and technical expertise of those who worked for him suggest that Carnegie's financial success was a result of the decisions of his underlings -- but certainly Carnegie must have possessed significant understandings of both his industry and of the world of finance. Nasaw's treatment is inadequate, to say the least.It also should be noted that the biography, well written though it is, becomes rather tedious at points. For a while, it felt like the book would never end, and that Nasaw was chronicling a never-ending cycle of Carnegie giving interviews and essays to the press, writing presidents and prime ministers, giving away libraries and church organs, and summering at his Scottish estate.In the end, Nasaw's biography is a competent, but uneven book. It is detailed, but for its successes in drawing a psychological portrait of Carnegie and his relationships it leaves some important questions about Carnegie's business acumen unanswered. It is at points an enjoyable read, but then also a frustrating and exhausting one.
chriszodrow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nasaw took on a difficult personality for a book. He struggles to maintain the humanity of Carnagie in the face of numerous displays of indifference towards others' suffering. Nasaw's subject gets away from him. This is the story of the American hyper-rich and price others paid on their behalf. It is also the tale of the mess that the good-intentioned rich can make. Many of our current foreign policies have their source in Carnegie's vision of world peace. An important, but difficult read.
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How to describe Andrew Carnegie? Certainly he would have to be one of the most fortunate individuals to have ever been born. Son of a hardscrabble weaver from a small hamlet near Edinburgh, Scotland, Carnegie and family immigrated to Pennsylvania whan he was a young man. Perhaps never before in history, has a particular man, with certain skills, found himself at the right place, at the right time and under the right circumstances as did Andrew Carnegie in 19th century western Pennsylvania. Despite having no formal education, Carnegie was certainly a very intelligent man. He educated himself over the years to the extent that he was considered a very philosophical author and sought after speaker on many of the issues of the day. He hitched his wagon to the right horse when he became assistant to an up and comer in the Pennsylvania Railroad. From an early age, Carnegie discovered the beauty of dividends and compound interest, money earned not by virtue of labor, but solely by virtue of having money. Due in large part to his connections, he was able to parley inside information into increasingly lucrative investments, to the point that he was soon able to turn over daily operation of his several businesses to very able lieutenants while he enjoyed the good life. These lieutenants, assisted by a series of unique events and developing technologies, made Carnegie the richest man in the world. While it may sound as if Carnegie was merely an observer and accumulator, he certainly deserves much credit for his success. He was an early pioneer in the concept of cost accounting and through a ruthless system of unit cost reduction, both in the areas of vertical integration and labor cost, was able to successfully grow his business and survive numerous economic downturns which bankrupted his competitors. Many decry Carnegie's business practices, most notably in the areas of labor/manangement relations and anti-competitive practices. However, this demonstrates a very common failing in many commentators; holding historical personages to current standards. The same people that condemn Carnegie's labor practices, denigrate George Washington for owning slaves, or Harry Truman for making racist comments. Each of these, though immoral by current standards, were men of their times. Owners of manufacturing entities were expected to battle with labor. Labor, in the mid-late 19th century was heavily connected with the burgeoning socialist movement which was looked upon with disfavor by much of society. In fact, it is no coincidence that those of Carnegie's competitors whose labor forces became organized, were largely those that failed in the repeated economic panics of the day. Carnegie succeeded, and grew, as a result of reinvesting profits and maintaining low unit cost. Ironically, though his Homestead steel works became the symbol for labor/management violence, he considered himself one of the most enlightened managers of the day. Carnegie is viewed, with Rockefeller, Morgan and Vanderbilt in the class of "Robber Barons" which sprang up during the era, however, Carnegie is vastly different than each of these individuals. While many of his contemporaries benefited and suceeded largely due to watered stock and market manipulation, he was very proud, and quick to point out that he never operated a corporation and never sold a share of stock. He was definitely NOT a monopolist (U.S. Steel was formed as a result of his sale of Carnegie Steel to J. P. Morgan and investors). He was simply a supreme capitalist and the first of his type and scale. He is condemned by others for taking advantage of political and business connections not available to others. Again, that was common practice in the era. Many things that he did, while legislated against now, were perfectly legal and accepted business practices of the times. All that having been said, I get the impression, especially in the later parts of the book, that Carnegie could be an insufferable prig. I ima
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Humanbean More than 1 year ago
This has become quite a topical book. Andrew Carnegie was one of the original "robber barrons" in the late 19th century. This book highlights his life and is timely in that we are seeing a repeat of this type of behavior today. This book covers details meticulously and certainly will get your cranium going. His story is not one sided, so you will learn both sides of the man: how he becamse so wealthy and his philanthropy.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
TRUE REVELATION OF A ROLE MODEL.