Monday, May 23, 2011


In this compelling biography, Peter Krass paints a portrait of a genius, a villain, and an emotionally troubled man.

CARNEGIE offers an insightful look at the life and mind of Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), a complex man whose contradictions divided America during the Gilded Age. Krass captures the drama of the times amid the burgeoning industrial empires of John D. Rockefeller, J. P. Morgan and others while revealing the essence of a man torn between building his own fortune on the backs of his workers and pioneering the philanthropy movement in America.

From his first job as a $1.20 per week bobbin boy in a Pittsburgh cotton mill, Carnegie came to be regarded as a ruthless tyrant and the greatest American capitalist whose business deals with Rockefeller and Morgan in the 1890s netted him millions. For his extraordinary generosity, Carnegie set the standard for social conscience, even advising Rockefeller on setting up trusts and foundations. In his lifetime, Carnegie gave away a staggering $350 million. In creating the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, he revolutionized higher education. His benefactions include the Carnegie Corporation, Carnegie-Mellon University, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Art Museum, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, as well as nearly 3,000 public libraries across the country.

In writing this first full biography of Carnegie in 30 years, Peter Krass has separated fact from legend by relying heavily on letters, diaries and other writings by primary and peripheral characters in Carnegie's life, extensive archives, and materials previously unavailable to biographers, including critical letters between Carnegie and his top lieutenant and nemesis, Henry Clay Frick.

In CARNEGIE, Krass takes a hard look at his subject while resisting the temptation to either demonize or canonize him. He penetrates the public persona of the ruthless empire-builder and tireless crusader for universal literacy and world peace to show a figure full of internal conflict and contradiction who ultimately made a lasting contribution to civilization.

Krass, whose great-grandfather worked in a Carnegie steel mill, has published seven previous books and is currently working on a biography of whiskey baron Jack Daniel. He lives in Hanover, New Hampshire with his wife and children.