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Andrew Carnegie

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Andrew Carnegie Cover

ISBN13: 9781594201042
ISBN10: 1594201048
Condition: Student Owned
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Review-A-Day

"The great strength of this immense biography is the way in which David Nasaw causes these tributaries — capitalism, radicalism, and educational aspiration — to converge like the three rivers (the Allegheny, the Ohio, and the Monongahela) whose confluence makes the site of Pittsburgh possible." Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)

Synopses & Reviews

Please note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.

Publisher Comments:

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 analyst," brings new life to the story of one of America's most famous and successful businessmen and philanthropists — in what will prove to be the biography of the season.

Born of modest origins in Scotland in 1835, Andrew Carnegie is best known as the founder of Carnegie Steel. His rags to riches story has never been told as dramatically and vividly as in Nasaw's new biography. Carnegie, the son of an impoverished linen weaver, moved to Pittsburgh at the age of thirteen. The embodiment of the American dream, he pulled himself up from bobbin boy in a cotton factory to become the richest man in the world. He spent the rest of his life giving away the fortune he had accumulated and crusading for international peace. For all that he accomplished and came to represent to the American public — a wildly successful businessman and capitalist, a self-educated writer, peace activist, philanthropist, man of letters, lover of culture, and unabashed enthusiast for American democracy and capitalism — Carnegie has remained, to this day, an enigma.

Nasaw explains how Carnegie made his early fortune and what prompted him to give it all away, how he was drawn into the campaign first against American involvement in the Spanish-American War and then for international peace, and how he used his friendships with presidents and prime ministers to try to pull the world back from the brink of disaster.

With a trove of new material — unpublished chapters of Carnegie's Autobiography; personal letters between Carnegie and his future wife, Louise, and other family members; his prenuptial agreement; diaries of family and close friends; his applications for citizenship; his extensive correspondence with Henry Clay Frick; and dozens of private letters to and from presidents Grant, Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt, and British prime ministers Gladstone and Balfour, as well as friends Herbert Spencer, Matthew Arnold, and Mark Twain — Nasaw brilliantly plumbs the core of this facinating and complex man, deftly placing his life in cultural and political context as only a master storyteller can.

Review:

"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Andrew Carnegie was almost the exact contemporary of Charles Sherwood Stratton, better known as Tom Thumb, and easily could have been mistaken for P.T. Barnum's celebrated performing midget. At his tallest, Carnegie never got above five feet, he weighed barely over 100 pounds, and, David Nasaw reports, he 'wore high-heeled boots and a top hat to disguise his lack of size.' But resemblances ended right... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[A] grand biography....[O]verstuffed and very well-written....Nasaw does brilliant work in bringing the man to life." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Mr. Nasaw tells this tale extremely well. Highly readable despite its length, Andrew Carnegie shows signs of prodigious original research on almost every page....I expect it will be the definitive work on Carnegie for the foreseeable future, and it fully deserves to be." John Steele Gordon, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"[G]enerally compelling. Ultimately, Nasaw cannot fully explain the man's contradictions, but this is a worthy attempt and an important examination of the man and his times." Booklist

Review:

"Nasaw competently builds a credible narrative arc that illustrates the cultural and political forces that shaped Carnegie's life and times." Denver Post

Review:

"Mr. Nasaw's book is beautifully crafted and fun to read. What it does especially well is to put you inside Carnegie's mind and help you see America as he did." The Wall Street Journal

Review:

"Coming in at 801 pages, the book just may be too long. It also could be that a biography of a man whose life was focused on remorseless execution of business principles lacks the natural drama of books about warriors or statesmen." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Review:

"[C]onsistently readable....Nasaw's fine book incorporates what's best in these and other books about Carnegie and his times so fully that it seems sure to be the final word on 'the Star-spangled Scotchman.'" Los Angeles Times

Review:

"Nasaw's research is extraordinary, drawing on everything from family letters to private business memos. Nasaw falls short, however, by packing these details into a disappointingly bland analytical framework." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"[T]his massive biography...contains many passages of astute analysis and perceptive character study but is simply too long. Granted, an epic life demands epic treatment, but Nasaw is not as selective as he should have been." Newsday

Synopsis:

Celebrated historian David Nasaw (The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst) brings new life to the story of one of America's most famous and successful businessmen and philanthropists. Using materials not available to any previous biographer, Nasaw brilliantly plumbs the core of this fascinating and complex man, deftly placing his life in cultural and political context as only a master storyteller can.

Synopsis:

In this magnificent biography, celebrated historian David Nasaw brings to life the fascinating rags- to-riches story of one of our most iconic business legends-Andrew Carnegie, America's first modern titan. From his first job as a bobbin boy at age thirteen to his status as the richest man in the world upon retirement, Carnegie was the embodiment of the American dream and the prototype of today's billionaire. Drawing on a trove of new material, Nasaw brilliantly plumbs the core of this fascinating and complex man, at last fixing him in his rightful place as one of the most compelling, elusive, and multifaceted personalities of the twentieth century.

About the Author

David Nasaw is the author of the nationally bestselling biography The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst, winner of the Bancroft Prize for History, the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the Ambassador Book Prize for Biography, and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is currently a distinguished professor of history and Director for the Humanities at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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rollyson2002, August 23, 2012 (view all comments by rollyson2002)
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 illegally. J.P. Morgan's claim that Carnegie became the richest man in the world when he sold his steel corporation to Morgan did not embarrass Carnegie a bit. Carnegie did not build his famous public libraries or establish his endowments for peace and social welfare as public relations ploys. Long before he became a controversial public figure, during a period when he was regarded as a pro-union supporter of the workingman and a rebuke to the robber barons of the Gilded Age, he had resolved to divest himself of his capital.

Mr. Nasaw's probes Carnegie's personality and philosophy ��" which Carnegie wrote up as "The Gospel of Wealth" ��" to describe an individual who believed he owed his good fortune to his community, a key term in the Carnegian lexicon. Unlike many self-made men (Carnegie was the son of a feckless Scottish weaver), he did not claim he had succeeded through hard work and genius. Carnegie scoffed at businessmen who put in 10- and 12-hour days. Even at the height of his involvement in business, Carnegie rarely spent a full day in his office. He disliked the go-getter mentality and counseled his fellow Americans to make opportunities for leisure. Carnegie loved to travel, read, attend the theater, and generally absorb culture, which he regarded not as a frill but as a necessity.

Carnegie headed for the country's cultural capital, New York City, as soon as he could break away from commitments in Pittsburgh, where he had begun his rise as a messenger boy and telegraph operator before graduating to Pennsylvania railroad executive positions. Pittsburgh had set him up to sell bonds and form partnerships in the iron and steel industries based on insider trading (not yet designated a crime or even considered immoral). What Mr. Nasaw dubs "crony capitalism" formed the basis of Carnegie's success.

But the ebullient Carnegie ��" one associate called him the happiest man he had ever met ��" had literary aspirations and quoted Shakespeare liberally. He befriended influential figures like Matthew Arnold and William Gladstone, not to mention the man who became his philosophical mentor, Herbert Spencer. Indeed, Spencer and Shakespeare went hand in hand for Carnegie to the point that he could close a deal quoting either writer.

Herbert Spencer, Mr. Nasaw believes, is the key to Carnegie's decision to give away his money. Spencer believed in evolutionary progress and that the "apogee of human achievement was industrial society," Mr. Nasaw writes. "What counted most for Carnegie was not simply that Spencer had decreed that evolutionary progress was inevitable and industrial society an improvement on its forbears, but that this progress was moral as well as material." Businessmen like Carnegie were not the creators of this progress but its agents. They arose out of the community that fostered their efforts.

In Carnegie's view, Spencer was not merely presenting ideas. For him, Spencer's notions were laws, and so in "The Gospel of Wealth," Carnegie refers to the "Law of Accumulation of Wealth" and the "Law of Competition." In this positivist reading of history, Carnegie met the world head-on ��" very much as he does in the evocative photograph on the cover of Mr. Nasaw's biography. Carnegie is shown walking toward us, open to whatever experience has to teach him. Naturally, then, he argued that he should give back what the world had, in effect, bestowed upon him. So certain was Carnegie that great wealth must be redistributed that he even argued against the notion of inheritance for children of the wealthy. Let them, as well, meet the world head-on.

With so much empathy for his community, then, how could Carnegie have consorted with Henry Clay Frick, a notorious and brutal strikebreaker? Unions, Carnegie concluded, did not understand that the Spencerian world, had periods of downs as well as ups��"as Mr. Nasaw's illustrates in his redaction of the philosopher:

"It seems hard than an unskillfulness which with all his efforts he cannot overcome, should entail hunger upon the artisan," Herbert Spencer had written, almost as if he were advising Carnegie not to give in to the demands of employees. "It seems hard that a labourer incapacitated by sickness from competing with his stronger fellows, should have to bear the resulting privations. It seems hard that widows and orphans should be left to struggle for life or death. Nevertheless, when regarded not separately, but in connection with the interests of universal humanity, these harsh fatalities are seen to be full of the highest beneficence.

Or as Carnegie himself notes in the social Darwinist "The Gospel of Wealth" (included in a new Penguin paperback edited by Mr. Nasaw): "While the law may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it insures the survival of the fittest in every department." As you may already have gathered, Carnegie was a better stylist than Spencer.

But a mystery remains in the heart of Andrew Carnegie's heart. When he published "Triumphant Democracy," which essentially ignored the terrible suffering that Spencer's version of evolutionary progress entailed, Spencer himself wrote Carnegie: "Great as may be hereafter the advantages of enormous progress America makes, I hold that the existing generations of Americans, and those to come for a long time hence, are and will be essentially sacrificed." What did Carnegie say to that? Mr. Nasaw does not comment, except to say, "What mattered most was that he be taken seriously as a thinker and author."

In other words, Mr. Nasaw does not know what Carnegie thought of Spencer's rebuke. Instead of just shilling for capitalism, shouldn't Carnegie have explored its devastating consequences as well? Failure to do so deprived Carnegie of the very status of literary figure and thinker he craved.

Didn't Carnegie understand as much? And shouldn't Mr. Nasaw probe this fatal flaw? Instead, he writes that Carnegie "wore his many hats well." So he did, when he looked in his own mirror. But biography ought to reflect perspectives not available to the subject. Even where evidence is lacking, some rather sharp questions have to be asked of a subject who did so much good while refusing to acknowledge that it arose out of so much questionable philosophy.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781594201042
Author:
Nasaw, David
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
Business
Subject:
Political
Subject:
Industrialists
Subject:
Philanthropists
Subject:
Rich & Famous
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
November 2006
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Two 16-page b/w photo inserts
Pages:
896
Dimensions:
9.28x6.44x1.82 in. 2.82 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Biography » Business
Biography » General
Business » Biographies
History and Social Science » US History » 1860 to 1920

Andrew Carnegie Used Hardcover
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$18.00 In Stock
Product details 896 pages Penguin Press - English 9781594201042 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "The great strength of this immense biography is the way in which David Nasaw causes these tributaries — capitalism, radicalism, and educational aspiration — to converge like the three rivers (the Allegheny, the Ohio, and the Monongahela) whose confluence makes the site of Pittsburgh possible." (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
"Review" by , "[A] grand biography....[O]verstuffed and very well-written....Nasaw does brilliant work in bringing the man to life."
"Review" by , "Mr. Nasaw tells this tale extremely well. Highly readable despite its length, Andrew Carnegie shows signs of prodigious original research on almost every page....I expect it will be the definitive work on Carnegie for the foreseeable future, and it fully deserves to be."
"Review" by , "[G]enerally compelling. Ultimately, Nasaw cannot fully explain the man's contradictions, but this is a worthy attempt and an important examination of the man and his times."
"Review" by , "Nasaw competently builds a credible narrative arc that illustrates the cultural and political forces that shaped Carnegie's life and times."
"Review" by , "Mr. Nasaw's book is beautifully crafted and fun to read. What it does especially well is to put you inside Carnegie's mind and help you see America as he did."
"Review" by , "Coming in at 801 pages, the book just may be too long. It also could be that a biography of a man whose life was focused on remorseless execution of business principles lacks the natural drama of books about warriors or statesmen."
"Review" by , "[C]onsistently readable....Nasaw's fine book incorporates what's best in these and other books about Carnegie and his times so fully that it seems sure to be the final word on 'the Star-spangled Scotchman.'"
"Review" by , "Nasaw's research is extraordinary, drawing on everything from family letters to private business memos. Nasaw falls short, however, by packing these details into a disappointingly bland analytical framework."
"Review" by , "[T]his massive biography...contains many passages of astute analysis and perceptive character study but is simply too long. Granted, an epic life demands epic treatment, but Nasaw is not as selective as he should have been."
"Synopsis" by , Celebrated historian David Nasaw (The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst) brings new life to the story of one of America's most famous and successful businessmen and philanthropists. Using materials not available to any previous biographer, Nasaw brilliantly plumbs the core of this fascinating and complex man, deftly placing his life in cultural and political context as only a master storyteller can.
"Synopsis" by ,
In this magnificent biography, celebrated historian David Nasaw brings to life the fascinating rags- to-riches story of one of our most iconic business legends-Andrew Carnegie, America's first modern titan. From his first job as a bobbin boy at age thirteen to his status as the richest man in the world upon retirement, Carnegie was the embodiment of the American dream and the prototype of today's billionaire. Drawing on a trove of new material, Nasaw brilliantly plumbs the core of this fascinating and complex man, at last fixing him in his rightful place as one of the most compelling, elusive, and multifaceted personalities of the twentieth century.

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