Monday, December 3, 2018

Book Review - Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw

In college, one of my Economic instructors often referred to Andrew Carnegie and mentioned what he would do. The version he presented made Carnegie out to be a fascinating character I wanted to learn more about.

Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw is a biographyIt is available as an eBook, Audiobook, and those paper things your grandparents used to read.

The Good

Research. Before he died, Andrew Carnegie started an autobiography which his wife finished and published after his death. A biography considered very authoritative was also published. Apparently both contained a lot of inaccuracies, unverifiable stories, and flat out lies. The author did an excellent job researching the man and explaining what can be verified and what can't.

Portrayal. The author focused on who Carnegie was as much as what he did. Carnegie was quite a paradox preaching one thing while practicing its opposite. He also flipped his opinion on several issues throughout his life. The author also shows him as delusional thinking he had much more influence than he did.

The Bad

Bias. The author has his own opinions and interpretation of history, and makes no attempts to be objective and hide his conclusions. Nor does he leave the reader much room to disagree or draw his own conclusions.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I wish the author had been more objective.


Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw is a well researched biography of an important figure in US and World History. The author presents who the man was as well as what he did. He points out what can and cannot be verified and corrects many errors and purposeful fabrications from previous biographies including Carnegie's own autobiography. Unfortunately, the author has own opinions and interpretation of history, and makes no attempts to be objective and hide his conclusions. That would have been fine in a work of fiction, but not so much in a work of nonfiction. I give this book 4 out of 5 eReaders.


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