The story of any man's life, truly told, must be interesting, as some sage avers, those of my relatives and immediate friends who have insisted upon having an account of mine may not be unduly disappointed with this result.
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Do my tears surprise you, Mr. Lebowski?
As stated early and often, the intention of this autobiography is for the enjoyment of people in Mr. Carnegie's personal sphere; people who are all now long dead and mostly out of the public conscious. This dates the writing a good deal, but there is still plenty that is very engaging.
This book isn't so much personal examination of a life than a sparse history supplemented with many mentions of cherished others who come and go through the years. It reads like an extended list of shutouts. His initial appraisal of himself is very high. After a while, what little self-examination and self-regard was present disappears altogether for different people, various verbs and big picture events to take center stage. Overall, of Andrew Carnegie the person, there is just fleeting glances; of ideas and people that inspired him; of the state and direction of his enterprises. It feels like reading a book by a kindly old uncle.
Perhaps this is all to the book's credit. It is a fair leap from the hagiographic version of US history I've had the great displeasure of encountering again and again. My favorite sections were his account of his early work life from messenger boy to railroad superintendent, the time spent manning the telegraph at the War Department during the Civil War (and his recollections of President Lincoln) and his later days with stately encounters with the likes of Secretary of State John Hay and Kaiser Wilhelm II.