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Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie Paperback – October 15, 1986
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Top Customer Reviews
You will be speaking better English, will have sought out Robert Burns' poetry just to feel some of what influenced this great man, and will begin taking yourself to account each day as the influence of true nobility begins to soak into your heart. Read it!
The book is a treasure on life and experiences of a legend. His deep insights on business and his tactics on getting things done are useful even today. There is very little on his childhood and a lot on his business life. His business years that saw the Civil war, use of steel for the first time, bubble burst of 1873, etc. present a very interesting picture of the history of America.
A must read even for non-Americans (like me).
This book is filled with additional vignettes on visits people he mentioned in the flow of his autobiography. Technically they were part of the autobiography but more of an expanded section after he gets through his distribution of his wealth.
As Mr. Van Dyke put them in order, they covered the main flow of Andrew Carnegie's life in roughly the first third of this book. We see Andrew Carnegie's progression from bobbin boy to leading capitalist or industrialist in today's terms through his retirement when he devoted himself to distributing his wealth. He shares freely his views on life, religion and politics and world affairs from a Western Europe - mostly British - and American viewpoint. I was fascinated with his experiences as a distributor of wealth, which he found even more satisfying than growing the wealth.
After Andrew Carnegie's retirement from business, his autobiography has little sections on various famous and important people with whom he because friends through the course of his life. During each of these vignettes, such as the section devoted to Gladstone, he includes other famous people who interacted with them.
I was exceptionally intrigued with his perceptions of the German Emperor being a man devoted to world peace because my impressions from American history written about World War I painted him more as the villain responsible for that war.
The following are highlights of his life:
* His formal education ended when he was 13. His family immigrated to America. He felt compelled to add to the family income so he went to work first as a `bobbin boy' for $1.20 per week. Andrew or `Andy' worked at the meanest, lowest jobs until his diligence and quality work brought him to the attention of people who could advance him.
* After he began work, Andrew Carnegie became a self-educated man by reading books others loaned him from their libraries. This probably accounts in part for his love of libraries and generous donations to found them. My hometown of Madison, Wisconsin is indebted to him for an endowment that started our public library system.
* Throughout his life, Andrew Carnegie retained a strong attachment to the town of his birth and childhood, Dunfermline. His Uncle Lauder, reared him with his cousin George Lauder's, while his parents worked. Uncle Lauder taught them their British and Scottish history. His three main heros were Robert the Bruce, Wallace and Burns. He quoted Burn throughout is life.
* Andrew Carnegie also forever had an attachment to Dunfermline Abbey, Palace, and the Pittencrieff Glen, which contained Queen Margaret's shrine and the ruins of King Malcolm's Tower, Eventually Mr. Carnegie was able to purchase the Glen and gift it to his hometown to make it a park for the children, especially. He had a special love for the sound of the tolling of the Abbey bell.
* His first major break was becoming a telegrapher and from that getting on with the Pennsylvania railroad, the Pittsburgh division.
* He was a risk taker, but calculated risks when he was knowledgeable and prepared.
* Despite how generous he was with stories about himself, his political views, his views on the respectful treatment of labors, and his friends and associates, he said very little about his family. He mentioned briefly his courtship of Louise Whitfield, who finally became Mrs. Andrew Carnegie. Although he said next to nothing about their daughter, Margaret, it was obvious he loved her.
* Having been a labor at the lowest of jobs, he always loved and respected his employees. On numerous occasions, they demonstrated their love and respect for him in return.
* Andrew worked at the meanest, lowest jobs until his diligence and quality work brought him to the attention of people who could advance him.
* He had no interest as I understand it in investing in the stock market. He considered this speculation or gambling. He really disliked gambling.
This autobiography flows smoothly making it easy to read and captivating. I did get lost occasionally on where he was in his story, which is why the thought occurred to me once that this review should be called "But, I digress." Nevertheless, it's these digressions that often add the depth and color to his life. Mr. Carnegie added immensely to my appreciation of American and European events in the mid to late 19th Century and the opening years of the 20th.