Friday, August 14, 2009

Daily Thoughts 8/14/2009

James George Frazer (1854-1941), author of The Golden Bough

Daily Thoughts 8/14/2009

I read some more of The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie. During the book, he disavows his intention to break labor in the steel mills. He even goes one step further saying he went to Scotland so that the other members of the company could carry out what they thought needed to be done in the steel mill strikes. It was very interesting how you could read the steel underneath the smile. He comes across as fair in the way he writes, but history seems to give a very different account of the Homestead Strike than what Andrew Carnegie describes in his autobiography. It was a very bloody, violent confrontation involving Pinkerton security, striking steel mill workers, and eventually the army. The book is written to create a persona in many ways.

I found the book fascinating because it showed a very optimistic view of the world with a smiling outer persona that covered up an incredibly driven person. Even in giving, he sought to further his name. He built over two thousand libraries, many museums, trade schools, university scholarships, art centers, and started numerous endowments. He even became an ambassador. He was largely self taught. He would listen to people then endeavor to teach himself about the subjects he heard about. He was constantly seeking to meet new and important people. Towards the end of his life, he was talking to presidents and emperors and traveling all over the world.

There is a lot about morality in this book. Some of it was hard handed. He avoided "low people", foul language, and demanded very few concessions from the people who worked for him. He also talked a lot about religion and morality. There was a sense that he helped people who were gracious to him and came down hard on anyone who stood in his way.

The writing is very familiar. It feels like he is talking to you directly. It has a clean, proper feeling to it. There is no foul language. He is talking about his accomplishments, but it does not come across as bragging. It would have been valuable if I had read it earlier in my life.

There is a certain sense of indebtedness which I feel to his work. At the same time there is a certain regret in his heavyhandedness. He after all gave the money which was used to build the library I work in.

I started reading The Practice of Management by Peter F. Drucker. Peter F. Drucker claims that this is the first book to systematically codify modern management practices. This book was written in 1954. The copy I have includes a preface by Peter F. Drucker from 1985. The book itself was published by Harper Collins in 2006. Peter F. Drucker is considered to be one of the most important business thinkers.

Today was another solid day. We had a reference meeting in the morning to discuss reference sources. I also did a little bit of weeding, made sure the new arrivals section was in order and printed out my orders for next week. There was a big event outside for the kids and teenagers with music, a magic show, a clown, music, and prizes for the summer reading program. It ran for several hours.

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