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A different side of Andrew Carnegie,
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This review is from: Free to All: Carnegie Libraries & American Culture, 1890-1920 (Paperback)
I loved this book. A hometown Carnegie library played a significant part in my childhood, so the photos, the floor plans, and the descriptions of various Carnegie libraries brought back emotional memories, but there was far more here for me to savor. This is the other side of Andrew Carnegie, not the side that was the tough Scot steel mill owner of the bloody Homestead Strike, but that same Andrew Carnegie as he became the wealthy philanthropist who not only revolutionized the way charitable giving in the United States is organized and administered, but who also caused significant changes in the way American communities at the turn of the century thought about themselves, their surroundings, their values, their futures, their interconnectedness, their obligations to one another, and their ability to define and create the sort of place they wanted their town or city to be. As the author tells the story of how communities across the nation went about applying for a Carnegie library grant, and lays out the Carnegie philosophy which structured that process, the reader comes to understand just how much of American life - especially in Midwestern and Western towns - was actually shaped by this one man and his funding of more than 2700 libraries, and how much Carnegie's influence remains in Middle American communities to this day. The writing here is excellent, the story is a fascinating one, and the book is well worth reading.