Saturday, August 4, 2007

Five best: biographies of American philanthropists

Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, selected a five best "biographies of American philanthropists" list for Opinion Journal.

Number One on the list:
Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw

Every time I think I know all there is to know about Andrew Carnegie, some other fascinating aspect of this complex man is revealed. Until I read David Nasaw's deeply detailed biography of the rags-to-riches steel magnate who essentially invented modern-day philanthropy, I did not know, for example, that he supported the progressive income tax and favored substantial levies on inherited fortunes. Having famously declared "He who dies rich, dies disgraced," Carnegie proceeded to create more than 20 organizations in the U.S. and abroad dedicated to advancing knowledge and education, rewarding heroes, creating pensions for teachers, and promoting international peace and other noble goals. This Scottish immigrant who became a champion of American democracy gave away over 90% of his fortune ($350 million, or tens of billions in today's dollars) and built more than 2,500 libraries. When he died in 1919, he did not die disgraced.
Read about the entire list.

Vartan Gregorian is the author of the autobiography The Road to Home ( 2003) and Islam: A Mosaic, Not a Monolith (2004).

The Page 69 Test: Andrew Carnegie.

Read about David Nasaw's top five list of biographies of business moguls.

--Marshal Zeringue