Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Andrew Carnegie: Industrial Philanthropist

Andrew Carnegie: Industrial Philanthropist

Laura B. Edge
Nonfiction
For ages 12 and up
Lerner, 2004   ISBN: 978-0822549659

The son of a weaver who lost his job to the big steam mills when they came to his town, Andrew Carnegie and his family left their home in Scotland when Andrew was just twelve years old. They decided to go to Pennsylvania in America where they were told there were more opportunities and jobs. Andrew did indeed manage to get a job in a factory and though he hated such work, he never complained but instead did his best to try to find ways to move up the ladder.

Being a very driven and determined boy, Andrew was able to do this in a remarkably short period of time. He taught himself the skills to get off the factory floor, and then he taught himself what he needed to know to become a messenger boy. Next he learned how to become a telegrapher and indeed he became one of the best in the country, acquiring the ability to take messages by ear rather than needing to read the print out.

Being a telegrapher for the railroad convinced Andrew that the railroad business was where he should be working and that was where he got his next job. He was lucky enough to work for a man who was going up the ladder in the Pennsylvania Railroad, and as he went up he took Andrew with him, recognizing early on that Andrew was an enormous asset.

It was this same man, Thomas Scott, who loaned Andrew some money so that the young man could invest in some stocks for the first time. The investment turned out to be sound one and Andrew did very well. Later he was able to use the money that he made to strike out on his own.

What was incredible about Andrew was that he was able to see when something was needed in the market and he then set out to try to meet that need. Thus he saw that wooden railroad bridges were not safe and he created a company that build iron ones. Later when people discovered how much better steel was for building such structures, he made the transition to making steel.

Andrew Carnegie became one of the richest people in the world. He said that he did not care for wealth and yet he did not live frugally by any means and had several very lavish homes. He was criticized for the way in which he treated his workers and for his so called hypocrisy. But is must be remembered that Andrew Carnegie did give away an enormous amount of his fortune. He built libraries all over the country, a museum that bears his name, and he created a foundation that funds numerous organizations and programs. His financial legacy lives on and serves people in all kinds of ways every day.

This biography for young people is a perfect example of a title which is both interesting and informative. Readers are given an excellent picture of what this extraordinary man was like and what it would have been like to live in his world. Without a doubt a great deal happened in his lifetime: among other things there was the advance of the industrial revolution, the rise of the big trusts, the American Civil War, several economic depressions, and World War I. All of these events are woven into the story of one of America?s most influential financial wizards.

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