Andrew Carnegie was five feet tall. His most recent biography (David Nasaw, “Andrew Carnegie,” 2006) is 878 pages in length.
Between these measurements the man described as “plum shaped” frequently moves between two worlds: the U.S.A., where he settled and Europe, particularly Scotland, where he was born.
If there was a businessman, philanthropist and man of letters who appeared to be a dynamic whole, it certainly was Andrew Carnegie. He also was a consummate multi-tasker, making hordes of money, writing numerous articles and books, all the while an indefatigable conversationalist and ardent self-promoter.
His major undertaking, breath taking in its own, were his articles on “The Gospel of Wealth,” the conviction that the man of means should bequeath all of his wealth to the public good. To that end Carnegie built 1,689 public libraries, at least a dozen music halls around the country, several thousand organs and many educational establishments.
David Nasaw, author of this magisterial biography, argues that no one, Bill Gates included, has given so much personal wealth to public causes.
Vain and gracious, fostering self-importance and desperately striving for world peace, convinced of continuing human betterment, Andrew Carnegie was deserving of the prodigious effort that Nasaw has brought to this remarkable biography.