I finished ’Carnegie’ by David Nassaw today. It gives a balanced view of the philanthropist and business legend that is Andrew Carnegie. It starts by tracing his roots in Dunfermline, follows with his move to America, discusses his entrance into business, and examines his rapid rise up the business ladder (which is based on who he knew, his interpersonal skills and insider trading as much as it’s based on his business skills). It finishes by focusing on his post-retirement philanthropy.
It’s a balanced book because it doesn’t really cheerlead for him. The book acknowledges his skills as a businessman and his commitment as a pacifist, but it also recognizes his tendency to overstate his influence, his union busting activities, and the fact that much of the time Carnegie didn’t operate in a true free market.
So in short, the book is an accurate assessment of an interesting business leader. If you’re interested in how businessmen built America in the late 1800s, this book is for you.