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Andrew Carnegie Hardcover – October 24, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Without education or contacts, Andrew Carnegie rose from poverty to become the richest person in the world, mostly while working three hours a day in comfortable surroundings far from his factories. Having decided while relatively young and poor to give all his money away in his lifetime, he embraced philanthropy with the same energy and creativity as he did making money. He wrote influential books, became a significant political force and spent his last years working tirelessly for world peace. Yet he was a true robber baron, a ruthless and hypocritical strikebreaker who made much of his money through practices since outlawed. Nasaw, who won a Bancroft Prize for The Chief, a bio of William Randolph Hearst, has uncovered important new material among Carnegie's papers and letters written to others, but comes no closer than previous biographers to explaining how such an ordinary-seeming person could achieve so much and embody such contradictions. He concentrates on the private man, including Carnegie's relations with his mother and wife, and his extensive self-education through reading and correspondence. His business and political dealings are described mostly indirectly, through letters to managers, congressional testimony and articles. Nasaw makes some sense out of the contradictions, but describes a man who seems too small to play the public role. While Peter Krass's Carnegie and Carnegie's own autobiography are more exciting to read and do more to explain his place in history, they also leave the man an enigma. 32 pages of photos. (Oct. 24)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Given the vast subject, critics commend David Nasaw's effort. The author combines thorough and much previously unavailable research in only the second full-length biography of Carnegie in nearly 40 years (Peter Krass's Carnegie, 2002). Despite his talent as a biographer, Nasawprofessor of history at City University of New York and winner of the Bancroft Prize for The Chief, his biography of William Randolph Hearstat times comes up short in his inability to reconcile Carnegie's contradictory ruthlessness and generosity. To be fair, no author has succeeded completely, and Carnegie's true motivation remains hidden to history. At nearly 900 pages, the book might more succinctly make its point. Those interested in Gilded Age history, however, will appreciate the meticulousness of Nasaw's research and his enthusiasm for a time of unprecedented change in America.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
I felt the book could have been a little more condensed.
He is certainly free to do this as the author, but I personally prefer a more measured approach to biography.
I finished the book with a sense of achievement - but also with a good sense of the social and business forces that shaped the man and his wealth. It wasn't arduous reading but you may find yourself skimming more once you reach the back half!