Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie

Hardback

By (author) David Nasaw

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Paperback $15.13
  • Publisher: The Penguin Press
  • Format: Hardback | 832 pages
  • Dimensions: 166mm x 236mm x 46mm | 1,296g
  • Publication date: 28 June 2007
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1594201048
  • ISBN 13: 9781594201042
  • Illustrations note: Illustrations
  • Sales rank: 660,353

Product description

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 With a trove of new material - unpublished chapters of Carnegie's Autobiography; personal letters between Carnegie and his future wife, Louise, and other family members; his prenuptial agreement;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 fascinating and complex man, deftly placing his life in cultural and political context as only a master storyteller can.

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Author information

David Nasaw is a Distinguished Prefessor of History at the Greduate Center of the City University of New York.

Editorial reviews

Robber baron? Capitalist butcher? Angel? Industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie has been many things to many people, and in this grand biography, he's all of them.Warren Buffett's recent decision to give most of his $30-billion-plus fortune to charity squares neatly with Carnegie's view that it is a mark of shame to die with money in the bank; in that matter, but not alone, Nasaw's overstuffed and very well-written biography is timely and instructive. A poor Scottish immigrant, Carnegie impressed a succession of employers with his skills, intelligence and diligence. He also had a Machiavellian bent, and by the time he was 30, he had built a financial empire based on insider contracts to supply the Pennsylvania Railroad with materials and build iron bridges for it. Carnegie's Protestant ethics became situational; he hired a substitute in the Civil War and guided money into his own pocket as a civilian advisor to the government. A shrewd investor, he survived economic panics and made out fine in booms, shielded by a strategy of using other people's money to expand his interests. The darkest side of Carnegie's character emerged when he and his partners reversed earlier policies of rewarding workers with high wages and benefits, allowing unions to operate freely. Leaving it to lieutenants to manage matters, Carnegie-whose personal fortune probably exceeded Bill Gates's today-spent more and more time in Europe as labor unrest mounted in the 1880s and '90s, exemplified by the bloody strike at his Homestead steel plant. Bowed, Carnegie devoted himself to philanthropy, endowing libraries and scientific institutions and pursuing anti-imperialist and pacifist causes, very unlike most of his fellow Republicans-from whom he pointedly split.A complex man of parts, then, not all of them good. Nasaw (The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst, 2000) does brilliant work in bringing the man to life. (Kirkus Reviews)