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Carnegie Hardcover – February 1, 2001
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""A superb new account of the legendary industrialist and philanthropist's life... timely, balanced... revealing."" --""Barron's""
.""..Krass provides a detailed thorough and thoughtful appraisal of a major figure..."" (Times Higher Educational Supplement, 14 November 2003)
From the Inside Flap
Yet this complex man embodied the contradictions that divided America in the Gilded Age. Was he truly the tyrant that many thought him to be, a ruthless robber baron who worked his men to death for his own personal gain . . . or was there more to this man who gave away his immense fortune, who has at times been invested with the virtues of a saint?
The first full biography of this industrialist and philanthropist in thirty years, Carnegie delves into the mind of a generous yet ruthless man who wore many masks throughout his life. Peter Krass captures the drama behind the building of Carnegies empire, revealing how he manipulated the rules of fair play and how he was a pioneer in philanthropy. He separates fact from the Carnegie legend by relying heavily on diaries, letters, and other writings by both primary and peripheral characters in Carnegies life as well as on the copious Carnegie-related archives.
Carnegie was devoted to his family and friends and believed himself to be a hero of the working people. But his actions bespoke internal conflict: he publicly supported the unionsand then wallowed in riches while his laborers struggled to meet their daily needs. From Carnegies meager beginnings to his multimillion-dollar fortune, Krass takes a probing, insightful look into what inspired and moved this contradictory business giant.
Top Customer Reviews
My problem with this book is that Krass makes claims which are dubious, and doesn't furnish credible historical sources to substantiate his less flattering allegations. He doesn't do justice to the reality that Carnegie lived in a different time, nor does he seem to understand the dilemnas that Carnegie faced. Some examples: In the 1870s, the railroad industry was growing by leaps and bounds. When Carnegie won contracts to supply his own railroad-employer, he was one of the few people that the railroad's management knew to be capable, loyal as far as keeping trade secrets, and to have something to lose (his job), if problems arose later. Today this would be self-dealing and cronyism; back then, it happened all the time and sometimes was practically the only way to get the job done. By not putting this into the proper historical context, Krass portrays Carnegie in a false light. Similarly in the 1870s-1900s, the money supply and US economy oscillated between boom and bust. In bad times, when the sales of rails dropped by 85%, Carnegie had no choice but to lower wages at his mills, which Krass duly bemoans.
Krass's book is full of hints that Carnegie was an abusive employer.Read more ›
Answers here are in the subject. Andrew Carnegie was once the richest man in the world. At the height of his wealth he had $100 billion dollars in today's dollars. Bill Gates had $50 billion at the height of the stock market bubble.
By the time he died Carnegie gave almost all of his money away. Carnegie was the first of the super-rich to become famous for his giving and tried to justify himself and build a philosophy around it.
That philosophy centered around Herbet Spencer's theories of social darwinism that justified his accumulation of money through a fight to the death against competitors and cost cutting that brought slave wages to many of his workers. Krass notes that the money Carnegie committed to libraries in the 1880's was almost the same that he spent on wages.
Carnegie wrote an important essay called the "gospel of wealth" in which he tried to explain his position in society - calling people like himself people who rose to the top due to superiority and whose wealth they used as a "trustee" for the better of society.
That essay is Carnegie's central importance in history - he provided the philisophical underpinning for the "robber baron."
Krass's book is the first major biography of Carnegie written in 30 years. It provides an excellent window into the era that Carnegie lived in and the more open and individualistic capitalism of the times. After Carnegie big business would be dominated by "trusts" and the "finance capitalism" of interlocking directorates and bankers.Read more ›
Not only does the author spend time writing about Carnegie's achievements but he is careful to include the emotional state of his subject. Carnegie could be petty and vicious one minute then caring and loving the next. How that affected his business as well as his personal life is what makes this book so engrossing.
While most of us know that Andrew Carnegie made his millions in the steel business, his knowledge of other businesses and how they intertwined with his own (especially the railroads) is fascinating. Through his gift-giving for the erection of hundreds of libraries around the world he made sure that Andrew Carnegie's name would be remembered for generations. No small ego here! It would seem that the author has given Carnegie a balanced look with the good side outweighing the bad in the final analysis.
What I gleaned from Peter Krass is a part of Andrew Carnegie about which I hadn't known...his efforts in the "peace movement" of his day. How firmly committed to the abolishment of war was Carnegie and his means to that end are cleary laid out in this biography. Carnegie's close working relationships and correspondence with every president from Cleveland to Wilson is offered by Krass, giving an added bonus to those of us who enjoy biographies of U.S.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very good bio of the rise of one of the richest ever Americans. However the author inserts his editorial criticisms of the events recounted in the book, showing the author's bias. Read morePublished 1 month ago by B. DARE
A great insight to Carnegie's business practices and philanthropies. Highly recommended for anyone interested in knowing the life of Andrew Carnegie.Published on April 1, 2014 by Americana
It is somewhat easy at this distance to either demonize Carnegie for his business methods or to laud him as one of the great philanthropists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Read morePublished on March 19, 2014 by FJR
This is a big, detailed and well-researched, but ultimately unsatisfying, book about a fascinating and deeply conflicted man. Read morePublished on July 26, 2013 by N. J. Cowell
Why is this book is so unsatisfying? Is it because Carnegie was an egotistical drudge, a control freak, and a boring person? Read morePublished on January 13, 2013 by Calochortus
Wonderful book. Very detailed account of Carnegie's public and private life from his birth to death, his humble beginings in Scotland to his rise to become an American steel magnet... Read morePublished on December 4, 2012 by William F. Snyder
This biography was very well done. At first, as noted by the author, I felt it was going to be an attack on "Corporate America" by a liberal. It was balanced. Read morePublished on August 3, 2012 by TCC CORPORATE