Publishers Weekly® Reviews
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In this startlingly frank account of Buffetts life, Schroeder, a former managing director at Morgan Stanleyand hand picked by Buffett to be his biographerstrips away the mystery that has long cloaked the words richest man to reveal a life and fortune erected around lucid and inspired business vision and unimaginable personal complexity. In a book that is dominated by unstinting descriptions of Buffetts appetitesfor profit, women (particularly nurturing maternal types), food (Buffett maintained his and his familys weight by dangling money)it is refreshing that Schroeder keeps her tone free of judgment or awe; Buffetts plain-speaking suffuses the book and renders his public and private successes and failures wonderfully human and universal. Schroeders sections detailing the genesis of Buffetts investment strategy, his early mentoring by Benjamin Graham (who imparted the memorable cigar butt scheme: purchasing discarded stocks and taking a final puff). Inspiring managerial advice abounds and competes with gossipy tidbits (the married Buffetts very public relationship with Washington Post editor Katherine Graham) in this rich, surprisingly affecting biography.
Warren Buffett calls for snow
To write The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Alice Schroeder spent thousands of hours with Buffett, his friends and family. Schroeder, a Wall Street analyst and former managing director at Morgan Stanley, met Buffett when she published research on Berkshire Hathaway. Impressed with her insights, he suggested she write full-time and the result is a lengthy, evenhanded account of Buffett's life.
According to Forbes, Warren Buffett's estimated $62 billion net worth makes him the world's second richest man, behind his good friend Bill Gates. Long before his stellar success with Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett showed an amazing aptitude for numbers and a talent for making money. In high school he delivered newspapers and was earning $175 per month, which was more than his teachers made. By the end of high school, his businesseswhich also included reselling pinball machines and refurbishing golf ballshad made him $5,000 (worth about $53,000 today).
"Life is like a snowball," Buffest says about attracting and compounding the value of business opportunities and cultivating relationships. "The important thing is finding wet snow and a really long hill. . . You've got to be the kind of person that the snow wants to attach itself to." That is but one of his many guiding principles on careers, business and life presented in the book, others include: "Find something you are passionate about. I only work with people I like. If you go to work every morning with your stomach churning, you're in the wrong business."
While Buffett's financial success is legendary, he has made personal and financial mistakes along the way; all are discussed in the book. While The Snowball could have been pared down some, all in all, it's a good investment of your time and money.
Ellen R. Marsden writes from Mason, Ohio.