The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

Schroeder, Alice

9780553805093

ISBN 10: 0553805096 / 0-553-80509-6
ISBN 13: 9780553805093
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: 2008
Binding: Hardcover
Editorial Reviews:
Synopsis:
Here is THE book recounting the life and times of one of the most respected men in the world, Warren Buffett. The legendary Omaha investor has never written a memoir, but now he has allowed one writer, Alice Schroeder, unprecedented access to explore directly with him and with those closest to him his work, opinions, struggles, triumphs, follies, and wisdom. The result is the personally revealing and complete biography of the man known everywhere as “The Oracle of Omaha.”

Although the media track him constantly, Buffett himself has never told his full life story. His reality is private, especially by celebrity standards. Indeed, while the homespun persona that the public sees is true as far as it goes, it goes only so far. Warren Buffett is an array of paradoxes. He set out to prove that nice guys can finish first. Over the years he treated his investors as partners, acted as their steward, and championed honesty as an investor, CEO, board member, essayist, and speaker. At the same time he became the world’s richest man, all from the modest Omaha headquarters of his company Berkshire Hathaway. None of this fits the term “simple.”

When Alice Schroeder met Warren Buffett she was an insurance industry analyst and a gifted writer known for her keen perception and business acumen. Her writings on finance impressed him, and as she came to know him she realized that while much had been written on the subject of his investing style, no one had moved beyond that to explore his larger philosophy, which is bound up in a complex personality and the details of his life. Out of this came his decision to cooperate with her on the book about himself that he would never write.

Never before has Buffett spent countless hours responding to a writer’s questions, talking, giving complete access to his wife, children, friends, and business associates—opening his files, recalling his childhood. It was an act of courage, as The Snowball makes immensely clear. Being human, his own life, like most lives, has been a mix of strengths and frailties. Yet notable though his wealth may be, Buffett’s legacy will not be his ranking on the scorecard of wealth; it will be his principles and ideas that have enriched people’s lives. This book tells you why Warren Buffett is the most fascinating American success story of our time.

Review:
Alice Schroeder’s The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life might well be one of the most important books you will ever read -- particularly in a period when the world's various economies appear to be entering freefall. This arm-straining (at nearly a thousand pages) but utterly fascinating book has already -- against all the odds -- achieved an astonishing level of success, given its initially daunting appearance. But it will only take a chapter or so for most readers to see just why this book is enjoying such an unprecedented level of acclaim.

The subject is the life and career of one of the most revered men in the western hemisphere, Warren Buffett (an advisor to new US President Barack Obama) – despite the fact that his name may not be known to most of the general public. Buffett’s story is one that currently has resonances for all of us: a remarkable financial success story. The name of this investor from Omaha is spoken of with admiration by all who know him, despite the fact that he has never written a book on his career or the secrets of his business success. However, he has been persuaded to allow Alice Schroeder to spend time with him and those with whom he works to investigate his business triumphs, his opinions, his mistakes (Buffett is rather winning in admitting to several of the latter – how common is that in his profession?) -- and what emerges is a totally comprehensive biography of the man known throughout the world as ‘The Oracle of Omaha’.

What is most revealing about the picture of the man that emerges from these pages (and Schroeder had access not just to her subject and his business associates but also his wife, children and friends) is that we meet a man of intellect – of course – but also of humanity and understanding, with a philosphy and worldview that is both judicious and principled. In an era in which those in Buffet’s profession are more prone to excoriation than praise, the man we encounter here has a sane and clear-eyed philosophy of life and an attitude to business success that is generously instructive -- and inspiring. --Barry Forshaw

Review

Review:
`An absorbing read whether or not you are directly involved in the current financial turmoil.' -- Observer

`An epic account of the greatest capital accumulator in history' -- The Times

`Titanic biography of the oddball financial genius'
-- Sunday Times

Review

 

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