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The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

Riveting

THE SNOWBALL-Warren Buffett and the Business of Life is as engrossing a book as I have ever read. It's a real page-turner. I am not in the habit of reading 840 page books with another hundred or so pages of notes but this book was so fascinating I couldn't put it down. ...
THE SNOWBALL-Warren Buffett and the Business of Life is as engrossing a book as I have ever read. It's a real page-turner. I am not in the habit of reading 840 page books with another hundred or so pages of notes but this book was so fascinating I couldn't put it down. Of the hundreds of books I have read I have never reread one until now. I am rereading the book highlighting many of the interesting topics. It truly is about the business of life.

posted by Reality-Man on November 10, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

The Snowball, Warren Buffett

review by Joseph P . Ritz

Warren Buffett has been the subject of books and articles since the public became aware he is one of the richest men on earth.
I thought of writing a book about him when I was about to retire from one of his companies: The Buffalo News. I...
review by Joseph P . Ritz

Warren Buffett has been the subject of books and articles since the public became aware he is one of the richest men on earth.
I thought of writing a book about him when I was about to retire from one of his companies: The Buffalo News. I asked my publisher and Buffett's longtime friend Stan Lipsey, who Buffett had lured from Omaha, if the billionaire would confide in me. He checked with Buffett.
I was told that Buffett had recruited a young, attractive woman financial writer to write an exhaustive book about him and his family. He would not talk to me.
The book is The Snowball - Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, by Alice Schroeder. (Bantam Press) 960 pages, $35.
There is a reasonable wariness of a biography in which the subject has chosen the author. The book includes pages and pages of long reflections, reasoning and comments by the subject. A less restricted author could well have shortened many of the quotes in the interest of readability and clarity.
Nevertheless, the book adds depth and a large measure of understanding as to how and why Buffett became so concentrated on accumulating money and required the mothering of the several close females in his life, including Katherine Graham, owner of The Washington Post.
(After Susie, his wife of a quarter of a century, left him, she found Warren a substitute who became Buffett's mistress, housekeeper, caretaker and companion and after Susie's death, his second wife.)
Surprisingly, the book is not as fawning as I had feared. In fact, for me, the teenage Warren was dislikeable misfit, a shop lifter of golf balls and equipment from a Washington, D.C. Sears. Buffett's congressman father comes across as being out of touch with reality and the common good, so conservative that he opposed everything FDR proposed, including Social Security and later, under Truman, the Marshall Plan. Eventually, he joined the John Birch Society.
In 1973 the Omaha Sun weekly newspapers, then owned by Buffett with Lipsey as publisher, won a Pulitzer for its expose of fund raising and lack of spending by Boys Town.
At the time, Buffett wrote that the prize showed the need for more than one printing press in a community.
A decade later, he had apparently changed his view after buying The Buffalo News. Aware that 60 percent of the rival newspaper's revenues came from its Sunday edition, under Buffett, the News started its own Sunday edition, at first giving away copies knowing that its morning rival, The Buffalo Courier-Express, would eventually have to cease operation, which it did in 1982.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was on the editorial staff of the Courier during that period.
Even though it became the surviving newspaper, members of The Newspaper Guild, which represents editorial and much of the circulation departments of the newspaper, today refer to Buffett derisively as "Uncle Warren." One reason is that after accepting meager raises during the battle with the Courier, the employees expected big raises when the News became the only daily in town. They didn't get them.
In fact, the paper began drastically cutting staff, including a big chunk of the news gathering staff. When there were two papers, the Courier staffed city hall with two reporters; the News had a regular staff of four, which rose to six on important news events. Today, one reporter covers City Hall.

posted by JRitz on February 25, 2009

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  • Posted March 29, 2011

    Respect, admiration

    Mr Buffett is an interesting guy. I've seen him interviewed, read magazine accounts of his stock market activities. This book explores his personality on a deeper level.

    Schroeder is unpatronizing, writes well, and inspires us. I'm left with the impression of an accomplished multi-talented man who is a focused financial wizard that has quietly succeeded in attaining his goals in life.

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  • Posted January 2, 2011

    Interesting man - well written book

    I loved this book! I knew very little about Warren Buffet before reading this book, but after reading it I felt I not only knew the man's life story, but more importantly, the man himself. it is a very well written book. Warren Buffet has moved onto my list of people I would like to meet (and it has nothing to do with his money) and this book had moved onto my list of favorites. I highly recommend this book for anyone want a good long read about an extremely facinating person. m.e.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Everybody's favorite Grandpa of Capitalism

    What can you say about Warren Buffett? Loved by million's of stock investor's the world over, the very definition of wise entrepenuer. Warren's self efacing, easy style throws people off from the real complexity if not the ubber-genius of this man.

    This is a real American story, of a real American heroe who changed tens of thousands of lives for the better (investors), made himself beloved like a family member, made it to the sumitt of his career and continued to work, because he loved what he created.

    This is a classic creation and creator story. Warren's company Berkshire-Hathaway has become more than a Company of millions of complex parts it is in many ways the man and vice versa for better or worse. He has become as Iconic as the Coca-Cola sign or the Wrigley Gum wrapper.

    Warren's vision of American Capitalism with moates and daring CEO who not only make money, but stockplie capital for rainy days and invest the surplus in ever greater revenue generating business while safe guarding the investors equity (stock)has become the financial gold standard.

    It all began with one man's life and this is that story according to the author. For those of us who think of Mr. Buffet more in terms of a favorite relative, Grandfather or Uncle, your going to love the book. For others this may be your entry to the cult. Either way Warren Buffett is not likely to be somebody you easily forget.

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  • Posted June 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fantastic!

    This is a fantastic book about Warren Buffett. Sometimes it is dry and slow but overall a great read. Makes you realize why he is such a success.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Heavy "To-me"

    I ordered this book in the large print edition for an older friend. This paperback edition was so heavy that the book would twist out of shape and required extra strength just to hold.<BR/><BR/>A better presentation (by the publisher) would have been 2 paperback volumes in a slipcase. So my lesson learned was to acually see the "large-print" book before ordering.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2009

    Great book. Hard to put down.

    Great book. Hard to put down.

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