Carnegie by Peter Krass - review by Christopher Ondaatje

Christopher Ondaatje

At Least He Had A Conscience

Carnegie

By

John Wiley & Sons 612pp £24.50 order from our bookshop
 

THE STORY OF Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), the Scottish immigrant's son who arrived in America with nothing and rose from the slums of Pittsburgh to become the wealthiest man in the world, embodies the American dream. This is the ultimate tale of the 'poor boy made good' - and a tale made even better by his giving all his fortune away. In doing so he set the gold standard for future philanthropists. The development of his belief in unrestrained capitalism and the growth of his steel empire coincided closely with the industrial development of the USA itself, and this gives his life still more of the quality of fable.

But Carnegie's life also embodied the harsh reality of the American dream. He was a robber baron, a ruthless capitalist who lived in luxury while his mill workers laboured seven-day weeks in hellish conditions. He wanted to be a champion of the working people, but once he gained power, he

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