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Andrew Carnegie

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  1,856 Ratings  ·  173 Reviews
Andrew Carnegie
Paperback, 896 pages
Published October 30th 2007 by Penguin Books (first published 2006)
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Eric I have no recollection of Napoleon Hill being mentioned in Nasaw's book on Carnegie. Wikipedia says that Hill was commissioned by Carnegie, and that…moreI have no recollection of Napoleon Hill being mentioned in Nasaw's book on Carnegie. Wikipedia says that Hill was commissioned by Carnegie, and that which he was commissioned to do would seem to fit Carnegie's character - evolutionary, deterministic. So in that sense, being commissioned, there is likely no reciprocation - Carnegie could buy the best, and often did.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Jan-Maat
This is a solid biography that raises a crucial question that it never answers. As a result it has a very interesting subject but for the wrong reasons.

I will declare an interest. As a little lad every Saturday morning I'd shoulder my green satchel and set off to my nearest library to exchange my borrowed books. My nearest library then was the Lambeth Carnegie library(view spoiler)
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Chrissie
I am certainly glad to have read this book. I had no idea that I would come to first loathe the man and then pity him. Read the book and find out why.

Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919) was born in Dunfermline, Scotland. His father, a weaver made jobless by industrialization, moved the entire family to Allegheny, Pennsylvania, USA, in 1848. The father having little ambition and the family meagre income, Andrew, being the oldest son, began work as a bobbin boy. He worked his way up to telegraph messen
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Mikey B.
Nov 02, 2015 Mikey B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I consumed this 800 page biography at home and while traveling in trains and planes. It’s a huge book on a character whose name we now associate mostly with a few buildings and charity foundations. It was a long slog to consume – but the main reason I managed to complete it is the wonderful and lucid writing of the author – David Nasaw. Throughout we are given a lively picture of the era and the personalities – from Andrew Carnegie, his mother, wife and daughter, his several business partners (s ...more
Carl Rollyson
Aug 23, 2012 Carl Rollyson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why did Andrew Carnegie give away all of his money? This is the question that Carnegie's biographers have to confront. David Nasaw's authoritative new biography goes a long way toward answering the question, even if he cannot—perhaps no biographer can—ultimately fathom Carnegie's complex motives and temperament.

Mr. Nasaw deftly dismisses the conventional explanations. Carnegie did not feel guilty about accumulating a vast fortune. He did not feel he had earned his wealth immorally, let alone ill
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Arminius
Aug 12, 2009 Arminius rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Andrew Carnegie’s parents left Scotland due to a severe economic slump when America slid into recession and stopped buying imported Scottish Linen. Linen was the main industry of Dumfermline, Scotland. His father was a handloom weaver who was often out of work. So they decided to move to western Pennsylvania where relatives had emigrated years before in hopes of a better life.

Andrew was thirteen years of age when his family settled in Cresson, PA, near Pittsburgh. He was startled by the bustling
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Samuel
Apr 05, 2014 Samuel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
During the second half of the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century, Horatio Alger's rags-to-riches fanned the flames of the national myth that any person, no matter their economic background, could make it rich in the free market and opportunity-prone economy of the United States. While many scholars have focused on how mythical this was--the rich and privileged had obvious head starts and unique advantages over lower class Americans and less well-connected immigrants--Andrew ...more
Richard
Feb 23, 2007 Richard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I rarely read anything that's not about early 19th Century, but, on a whim, I bought this recent biography about Andrew Carnegie;philanthropist, steel king and robber baron.
Carnegie was the proto-typical "poor boy made good" and was one of the richest men in the world. and he was a true conundrum; filthy rich, yet he thought it was his duty to give away as much as he could before he died to philanthropic causes. and, even though he did give away millions to those less fortunate, he had a general
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Kate
Aug 08, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good and very comprehensive biography of Andrew Carnegie.

It kind of ran out of steam for me after he retired from the steel business to focus on his philanthropy, especially the world peace bit.

I wanted to hear more about his disagreements with Frick, and would have also liked the book to focus more on his legacy for labor, steel, Pittsburgh, philanthropy etc., instead of just stopping when he died.
Clif
Aug 24, 2014 Clif rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is nothing more fascinating than a life story. The dice are doubly thrown when sperm meets egg, first in the combination of genes through heredity, and at the same time in the time at which a life comes into being. At birth such powerful factors as temperament are already set, but what tests will temperament meet? Would the great people of one century be great if they were born in another? Almost certainly not. We are the result of our ancestry and also of our time.

There are some character
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Louise
Jul 22, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Carnegie, gone for almost a century, continues to touch the lives of millions of people. He did not just build libraries, he solidified the public library movement by the requiring that cities tax themselves to maintain the gift. The landscape of Carnegie libraries across the world is stunning. While the buildings today are all but obsolete for library service, one wonders how this institution might have developed without his initial impetus. Carnegie made wise investments in the future. He left ...more
Tony
Jun 25, 2010 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent biography of Carnegie, steel magnate, philanthropist and peace advocate.

Carnegie lived his own Gospel of Wealth, accumulating a fortune and then giving most of it away in his own lifetime. The contradiction of course is that he made his wealth by brutal treatment of his workers. A 12-hour day in a steel mill hardly encourages one to head to the library after work. Nasaw doesn't attempt to explain the contradiction. Rather he shows the incongruity over and over again through Carnegie's
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Bill P.
while watching a history channel series on industrial titans of the 19th and early 20th century, it occurred to me that I owned a copy of this bio of Andrew Carnegie as they interviewed the author, David Nasaw as one of their talking heads. While my lasting impression of the history channel series was that it deserved very low marks,(they also used Donald Trump as one of their modern day talking heads, that alone disqualifies the series as any serious review of history)David Nasaw's book was pre ...more
David Yeoh
Apr 13, 2017 David Yeoh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazed at all the journals and letters revived and preserved. Long read but I can feel like I ve known this person and his character after the read. Portrays a very human like figure despite his magnate achievements. From impoverished immigrant uneducated beginnings to genius wealthiest Titan, with an unidentified source of ability to flick a switch- opinionated yet emotionally aware, unswayable, and ability to strategically executed swiftly with reason and foresight logic. Almost a self thought ...more
Steven Peterson
Jan 06, 2010 Steven Peterson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
801 pages of biography. This is what David Nasaw has produced--a massive biography of Andrew Carnegie. Well known as a philanthropist, he gave away much of his fortune. For instance, one accounting notes the following (page 801): ". . .at the time of his death, Carnegie had given away more than $350 million (in the tens of billions today). There remained but $20 million of stocks and bonds. . . . In the seventh paragraph of his last will and testament, Carnegie directed that it be bequeathed, in ...more
Jana
Apr 28, 2013 Jana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, history
I've long been fascinated with the Gilded Age and this book has been a great treasure trove of information. It was surprisingly readable for a biography, though I do have to complain about the way that the timeline seemed to jump a bit. It didn't detract too much from the overall reading experience, but when one seeks out to have a clear timeline, one is forced to read some things over again. (And I also had a hard time dealing with the fact that I feel as if the Johnstown flood thing wasn't giv ...more
Mary Pressman
Jun 01, 2014 Mary Pressman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read Samuel's review... I do not need to repeat what he said. I found this book to be a fascinating look into a time in our country that tended to be glossed over in my school time history classes. We studied all the wars and did not focus much on the amazing growth of the American industrial sector after the civil war. Andrew Carnegie was a man full of contradictions. There is much to admire in his story, but there is much to be disgusted by as well. However, after reading this biography, I do ...more
John
Dec 22, 2012 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be an enlightening biography of a fascinating man. I want to meet this guy and share a Dewars at Skibo. His happiness, humor, intellect and pursuit of peace defied my prejudice of the robber-baron type. The book triggered more reading to understand his guiding spirits (e.g., Swedenborg, Spencer and Social Statics).
I was born in the steel town of Gary, grew up in Pittsburgh and even worked for US Steel at a former HC Frick mine. But I had no idea about this man who gave birth to a
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Joel Arnold
Nov 26, 2011 Joel Arnold rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very long, very interesting, sometimes highly entertaining, and occasionally a bit tedious. I liked this book, but there were times in the middle when I wondered if it would ever get done.

Mr. Carnegie was an overly confident man that had his already ample ego augmented by a lot of money. Probably the second-richest man in American history, Carnegie's is the ultimate rags to riches story.

For me the most interesting part of the was the end. Carnegie passionately took up several causes during his l
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Brian Lutz
Feb 02, 2014 Brian Lutz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I started this time, I had a vague who Andrew Carnegie was, and knew little about his legacy. Seven hundred and eighty-some pages later, I am now intimately familiar with the man, and legend, behind Carnegie Steel and one of the largest philanthropic undertakings of modern mankind.

I certainly won't call him a nice person until we meet on the other side, but until then Nasaw gives an excellent view into the lifestyle of Andrew Carnegie. While some elementary grammar mistakes find their way
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George
INTERESTING. ENLIGHTENING.

“The desire to hoard is the lowest form of moral degradation.”—Chapter 13

The biography, ANDREW CARNEGIE, by David Nasaw is an ambitious, extensive, long (close to thirty-five hours audio), interesting and enlightening study of ‘the star-spangled Scotsman’.

Carnegie’s life and times, his industry and success, along with his extensive philanthropy, all made for an interesting listen. His political enthusiasms—his ‘Triumphant Democracy,’ pro-capitalism and pro-peace promoti
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Dstewart
I had no idea how integral Carnegie was in building the infrastructure of America..Back in the days of the good ole boys where there were no laws for insider trading..I grew up in the town where his first public library was built and it saved my life. My father was a steelworker at his ET works for 40 years..The steel mill touched every part of our lives..If you want to see the results of the town with the mills gone or operating very lightly, read the article in May's Rolling Stone "The mayor o ...more
Kyla
Feb 22, 2008 Kyla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
why are all bios over 600 pages? is it REALLY necessary? Still, trudging along...
Okay, I finished, though I freely admit I skimmed many sections to get to the ones I was interested in. Here's how to make money in America, the Andrew Carnegie way. Work hard, ride the coattails of important people via toadying and then employ crony tactics with secret groups and coalitions until you have built a ginormous fortune. Luckily, he was just as interested in giving away his fortune as he was amassing it.
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Jan
Apr 07, 2015 Jan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
Having read the autobiography first (and not quite liking it to be honest), I turned to Nasaw's book kind of biased (a state of mind one should try to avoid when starting a new book). Fortunatelly I was completly take by surprise by the quality of the book. A very well researched piece of work it's the kind of book that leaves you thinking: "I want to know more!" Naswa's style of writing is close to that of Ron Chernow. So if you like Chernow's books you surly going to like this one too!
Claudia
Jul 28, 2008 Claudia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am consistently fascinated by this era in American history. It was an interesting book, nothing terribly salacious or taboo that one usually comes across in regard to the extreme rich. It is interesting how literally became the richest man in the world, especially since all the anti-trust laws weren't in place then. But it was a thorough book about an honest man who used his wealth to enhance the lives of others.
Michael Gerald
An exhausting biography of one of the titans of American industry, a billionaire who made his fortune on the backs of the toil of his workers he exploited, but also one who opposed his country's dalliance with imperialism.

And he would have been a dumb beauty pageant contestant in another life for trying to make one thing possible: world peace. Too bad he didn't get the Nobel for it. But seeing your name on numerous institutions and leaving a legacy of philantrophy? Not bad.
Ryan Knoll
May 27, 2015 Ryan Knoll rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dan Walker
Nov 23, 2012 Dan Walker rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, economics
This book should be required reading. Not because it is so brilliant or enthralling, but really for the opposite reason: it is a simple rehearsal of a man's life who earned more money, and saw and did more than most of us ever will. And yet at the end of his life he was faced with a reality so completely antipathetic to what he had spent decades trying to achieve, that it literally shortened the book. There is very little to say about Andrew Carnegie in the last four years of his life because th ...more
Michael Neno
Nov 06, 2016 Michael Neno rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
I can't imagine there being a need for a more comprehensive biography of Andrew Carnegie, so hats off to David Nasaw for years of amazing research, compilation and detailed writing. Every era of Carnegie's rags-to-riches life is illuminated, with little commentary, judgement or the sort of psychoanalyzing used by lesser biographers.

Carnegie was once, arguably, the richest man in the world and the means to which he acquired his wealth, his strategic business tactics, complex relationships with wo
...more
Evil Evan
May 31, 2017 Evil Evan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This is what reading it was like: Andrew went to his summer home to play golf. There he wrote a bunch of letters to important people. Here is each letter, and it's reply, word for word. Then he talked to someone else, and this is exactly what he said. Here is the author's take on that. Pretty interesting, huh? Then he donated some money. This is what Carnegie thought about donating money. Here are the things he donated money to. Then he wrote a letter about it, and this is exactly what he wrote. ...more
Chris
Jun 17, 2017 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Nasaw is a very good writer. His books about William Randolph Hearst and Joe Kennedy were terrific and captured the essence of the subject. He does so with Andrew Carnegie as well. Unfortunately, the essence of Carnegie is that he is an exceedingly dull subject. Completely self delusional, he viewed himself as a benevolent employer when in fact he was a horrid man who routinely underpaid his employees and broke their strikes when they demonstrated for higher wages. He was a chronic name dr ...more
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David Nasaw is an American author, biographer and historian who specializes in the cultural and social history of early 20th Century America. Nasaw is on the faculty of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he is the Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of History.

In addition to writing numerous scholarly and popular books, he has written for publications such as the Columb
...more
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“The biographer is often asked at the conclusion of his project whether he has grown to like or dislike his subject. The answer of course is both. But the question is misplaced. This biographer's greatest fear was not that he might come to admire or disapprove of his subject, but that he might end up enervated by years of research into another man's life and times. That was, fortunately, never the case. The highest praise I can offer Andrew Carnegie is to profess that, after these many years of research and writing, I find him one of the most fascinating men I have encountered, a man who was many things in his long life, but never boring.” 1 likes
“Carnegie survived and triumphed in an environment rife with cronyism and corruption. Much of the capital invested in his iron and steel companies was derived from business activities that might be today, but were not at the time, regarded as immoral” 0 likes
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