Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Andrew Carnegie” as Want to Read:
Andrew Carnegie
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Andrew Carnegie

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  2,891 ratings  ·  231 reviews
Majestically told and based on materials not available to any previous biographer, the definitive life of Andrew Carnegie-one of American business's most iconic and elusive titans-by the bestselling author of The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst.

Celebrated historian David Nasaw, whom The New York Times Book Review has called "a meticulous researcher and a cool
Hardcover, 896 pages
Published October 24th 2006 by Penguin Press HC, The (first published 2006)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Andrew Carnegie, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Mark I'm only 30% into the book but the author so far has done a good job of comparing contemporary events of Carnegie, Carnegie's own writings and…moreI'm only 30% into the book but the author so far has done a good job of comparing contemporary events of Carnegie, Carnegie's own writings and autobiography and the commissioned bio by Louise Carnegie after his death. The comparisons allow the reader to come to own conclusions by providing the different perspectives on some of the more challenging parts of Carnegie's career and life. (less)
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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,891 ratings  ·  231 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Andrew Carnegie
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)
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
Mikey B.
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I consumed this 800 page biography at home and while traveling in trains and planes. Its 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 (such ...more
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it

Andrew Carnegie by Davis Nasaw was published in 2006 and was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. Nasaw is the Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of History at City University of New York. Among his most widely-read books are biographies of Joseph P.Kennedy (which I read and reviewed last year) and William Randolph Hearst.

The ideal biography requires several crucial ingredients. Among them are an intriguing biographical subject, a
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
Very detailed account of the life of Andrew Carnegie his rise from lowly beginnings his early work ethic his wheeling and dealing his risk-taking which paid off in the steel business which made him a titan. His conscience his fickle relationship with it when it came to his business affairs. His desire later in life to do good for the world. His flirting with socialist ideas, His responsibility for crushing workers at his Homestead plant in 1892. His quest for world peace and the end of his life ...more
Carl Rollyson
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 cannotperhaps no biographer canultimately 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
Aug 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Andrew Carnegies 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
Henrik Haapala
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Only invest in companies you have investigated yourself.
First dividend check; heres the goose that lays the golden egg (24% interest).
Andy took self-education seriously. He wanted to read widely because that was what a man and a citizen did, whether artisan or mechanic, clerk or merchant, Scottish or American. Book learning was a means toward, and a sign of, moral distinction. 45
He borrowed a book a week as a working boy where he could, libraries were not as open to everybody as they are
Feb 23, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Aug 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Frank Stein
Mar 04, 2010 rated it liked it
The reader gets a real sense of Carnegie's personality from this book. Carnegie was extremely sociable, intelligent, funny, unassuming, and, in a less flattering light, repetitive and stubborn. Nasaw plumbs countless letters, diaries, newspaper articles, and business papers to come up with this complete and extensive picture of one of the most important personalities of the nineteenth century, and I'm glad he did.

Unfortunately the book is simply too long and too suffused with personal details.
Jun 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Bill P.
Apr 20, 2013 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Michael Gerald
Apr 02, 2014 rated it liked it
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 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 02, 2016 rated it liked it
was a long read. would have been better if it was half as long.
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I suppose someone has to write the 'definitive' biography of Carnegie. And this seems to be it. All 878 pages of it. I borrowed this book from my brother in August and am seeing him again for the first time today, 4 months later and need to return it. I'm on page 466, which is ONLY HALF WAY THROUGH. But that's it. I'm giving up (for the moment any way).

Carnegie is a fascinating character. Contradictory. At times forward thinking and heroic. And times the worst of capitalists. Born to a
Fred Forbes
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
As I drove through my hometown of Palmetto, FL, I noticed the Carnegie Library was closed for remodeling. It is now a museum located across from the current town library. I crossed the river into Bradenton and passed another Carnegie Library that is now a storage facility for county records. All I knew about Carnegie is that he was one of the 19th century "Robber Barons" who made his $millions in the steel industry. What prompted him to provide funds to build libraries all across the country? I ...more
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, my-library
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Yeoh
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very peculiar tycoon.

I give 4.5 stars. The book is great. A lot of personal life details.

As a Brazilian, I have learned a lot of North America history and culture.
Daniel Bratell
This is the third biography I read about people that made themselves super rich in the late 1800s in the USA. The other two were Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt. That means that it's hard to not review the persons at the same time as I review the book but I will do my best.

Andrew Carnegie grew up in Scotland in a family who were being put out of business by the industrialization. When he was 13 the family moved to Pittsburgh
Steven Peterson
Jan 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 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 ...more
Mary Pressman
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a highly researched book. There are a lot of direct quotes from Carnegie's correspondence. It is an 800 page book with chapters focusing on a year or two at a time. It is primarily about his business and philanthropist actions. There is a little bit on his courtship with Louise, but very little focus on the family although his friends and business partners are mentioned a lot. Very good focus on life at the time and how things (and himself) changed from 1860s to 1915. He was quite an ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
  • Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
  • The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance
  • Morgan: American Financier
  • The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould and J.P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy
  • Meet You in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership That Changed America
  • The House of Rothschild, Vol 1: Money's Prophets, 1798-1848
  • Mellon: An American Life
  • The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
  • T.R.: The Last Romantic
  • Lindbergh
  • The Warburgs: The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family
  • Henry Clay: The Essential American
  • American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900
  • The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King
  • The House of Rothschild: The World's Banker 1849-1999
  • Direct from Dell: Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry
  • Wilson
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our list,...
30 likes · 20 comments
“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.” 2 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” 1 likes
More quotes…