The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie. With An Introduction by Vartan Gregorian

In honor of the one-hundredth anniversary of Carnegie Corporation of New York: A new edition of the classic memoir by one of history’s greatest philanthropists.

Andrew Carnegie was an immigrant, a poor boy who worked in a cotton mill, a man who amassed a great fortune as a steel baron and then became one of the most generous and influential philanthropists the world has ever known.

Carnegie’s famous dictum, that he who dies rich dies disgraced, has inspired philanthropists and philanthropic enterprises for generations. During his own lifetime, he put his ideas into action by creating a family of organizations that continue to work toward improving the human condition, advancing international peace, strengthening democracy, and creating societal progress that benefits men, women, and children in the United States and around the globe.

Now, to mark its centennial, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the foundation created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911, has partnered with PublicAffairs to reissue The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie, with an introduction by Carnegie Corporation’s president Vartan Gregorian. Here, in his own words, Mr. Carnegie tells the dramatic story of his life and career, outlining the principles that he lived by and that today serve as the pillars of modern philanthropy.

In his introduction, Gregorian explores events that made up Andrew Carnegie’s remarkable journey from living in poverty to more or less inventing the modern field of philanthropy. The Corporation’s twelfth president, himself a historian, reflects not only on Andrew Carnegie’s impact on society but, in a general sense, on the role of the individual in history:

"I believe I can say with reasonable certainty that the notion of free individuals working together toward a higher common good is one that Andrew Carnegie would have celebrated. Though he was influenced by Social Darwinism, a set of late nineteenth-century ideologies that primarily focused on “the survival of the fittest” as an organizing principle of society, he came to very different conclusions about how these ideas played out in real life. He believed that in the ranks of the disadvantaged, one might find what he called “the epochmakers” because those who triumphed over adversity had to be possessed of extraordinary will and indomitable spirit. A true idealist, he believed in the maxim that a rising tide lifts all boats, and hence, his “epoch-makers” and others like them were obligated to make every effort to advance society and improve  conditions for all men, women, and children."      

Born in 1835, Andrew Carnegie emigrated with his family to the United States from Scotland at a young age. His first job was in a cotton factory, and he later worked as an errand boy. The industrial age brought great opportunities for Mr. Carnegie. With drive and hard work, he amassed a fortune as a steel tycoon, and by adulthood the errand boy was one of the richest and most generous men in the United States. A strong dedication to giving back guided him throughout his life and career.

Carnegie Corporation of New York is a philanthropic foundation created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to do “real and permanent good in this world.”

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