Most helpful positive review
118 of 123 people found the following review helpful
Great reading - but only for those interested in business
on December 31, 2001
"Investment is most intelligent when it is most businesslike", Warren Buffett's teacher, Benjamin Graham, once wrote.
This book is a fantastic biography of Warren Buffett. I think anyone who wants to learn about Warren Buffett or his investment techniques etc should first read this book before anything else (including his essays).
This book is written time-chronogically, from the time around the early 1930s (Buffett was born in August 1930) to around 1994. Here we can observe how Buffett had a great desire to be rich since he was young, but in his teen years, after being involved in several business ventures, he longed for a method which is more consistent in making money.
Meeting Benjamin Graham when he was 19/20 years old solved this longing for Buffett. He became a devoted investor in businesses since then. After working under Graham for several years, Buffett began a partnership (noticed how confident he was, despite his young age, to be successful) when he was 26 years old (in 1956) and achieved a 29.4% compounded annual return in the fund (he dissolved the partnership in 1969). During these 14 years, Buffett learnt which businesses (like those possessing customer franchise - Buffett called these with "Deep moats around the castles") were better than others. He dissolved his partnership in 1969 as he deemed the market to be very overvalued then.
From then on, he used the lessons he had learnt to purchase great businesses at reasonable (or cheap) prices, such as Nebraska Furniture Mart, Washington Post, Cap Cities, etc.
To fully enjoy this book, the reader should stop at certain chapters, and read other - yes, other - related books. For instance, around after I had finished reading chapter 3, 'Graham', I read Ben Graham's 'Intelligent Investor'. Also, when Phil Fisher was mentioned as one of the strongest influencers in Buffett's life, I read his book 'Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits'. The readers can get more insights from reading it this way.
Mr. Lowenstein also took excursions when discussing Buffett to go through discussions about certain business characteristics, to ensure that the readers can fully appreciate Mr. Lowenstein's perceived motivation behind a certain Buffett action etc. Mr. Lowenstein also helped the reader to be more knowledgable about key points about US stockmarket history through interesting dissertations. I found these excursions extremely enlightening.
Mr. Lowenstein's writing style is also very 'flowing' - he changed from one topic to another in a very smooth way. You've got to read it to understand what I'm saying.
Lastly, I just want to say that the readers should have at least a moderate-to-strong knowledge and interest in business (and investing; but business = investing and investing = business) to fully appreciate this book. Enjoy!