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Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist Paperback – August 18, 1996

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 475 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books / Random House; 1st edition (August 18, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385484917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385484916
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #793,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Starting from scratch, simply by picking stocks and companies for investment, Warren Buffett amassed one of the epochal fortunes of the 20th century -- an astounding net worth of $10 billion and counting. That awesome record has made him a cult figure.

This illuminating biography reveals a man whose conscientiousness, integrity, and good humor exist alongside an odd emotional isolation. Buffett also masterfully traces his life: his enormously successful partnership; his early, inspired investments in American Express and Geico; his companionship and investment with Katharine Graham of the Washington Post; his role in the Capital Cities purchase of ABC; his unique relationship with his wife and mistress; and his rescue of the scandal-ridden Salomon Brothers. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

By picking the right stocks and businesses to invest in, plainspoken Nebraskan Warren Buffett became the richest man in the U.S. In this excellent biography, Wall Street Journal reporter Lowenstein details the billionaire stock market wizard's strategy of betting on the long-term growth of a handful of successful companies such as American Express and Berkshire Hathaway. Providing personal glimpses of a very private man, Lowenstein unearths childhood traumas such as the tormenting rages of Buffett's mother and his forced relocation to Washington, D.C., in 1943, where, at 13, he ran away from home (he was found by the police the next day). Buffett's wife, Susan Thompson, a nightclub singer, walked out on him in 1977 and was quickly replaced by his mistress, Latvian-born Astrid Menks. Lowenstein profiles an emotionally guarded, "strangely stunted" Midas obsessed with work and secrecy, who seemingly derives little pleasure from his fabulous wealth. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in investing.
Mariusz Skonieczny
To fully enjoy this book, the reader should stop at certain chapters, and read other - yes, other - related books.
Mr Tri I Suseno
Roger Lowenstein did a remarkable job in researching and writing the story of Warren Buffet.
Joao Cortez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Mr Tri I Suseno on December 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
"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'.
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83 of 91 people found the following review helpful By S. Schneider on December 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
Although few readers probably come to this book because it is well-crafted, Roger Lowenstein's prose is superb. This is a great biography. But readers will likely be disappointed if they expect a glimpse of Buffett's investment secrets by perusing Lowenstein's book. Lowenstein never makes the claim that you'll learn to be a better investor by reading BUFFETT. In fact, it appears to be Lowenstein's essential thesis that it is Buffett's firmness of character, as much as his intellectual acumen, which makes him such a fine investor. Whatever one might think of Buffett, it is a rare pleasure to find so well-written and thoughtful a book as Lowenstein's biography amongst the sensationalized and poorly edited biographies of late.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By bixodoido on July 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
Buffett is a fantastic biography on one of the 20th century's most well-known investors. Far from being just a financial volume or a how-to-invest-like-Buffett, Lowenstein's work is a genuine biography, and a very well-written one at that. That's not to say one cannot learn something about Buffett's investing style by reading this book; in fact, I believe I learned more about how the man has been so successful from this book than from any other source on Buffett.

The great strength in Lowenstein's biography is that he highlights just what Buffett is-an anomaly. His success on Wall Street is unique, and not merely because that success happened from a couple thousand miles away in Omaha. No, Lowenstein recognizes Buffett for the remarkable man that he is, and analyzes Buffett's character in a way that, if you pay attention, actually explains how to "win" like Buffett has. Lowenstein highlights various attributes in Buffett's personality-his honesty, his amazing ability to keep things simple and find the "inherent value" in companies he analyzes, and his old-fashioned value finding approach to name a few-and examines them both in the context of Buffett's personal life and in his business life. The result is very intriguing, and the resulting impression is that Buffett succeeded on the Street because of who he was, both on and off. While this book may not spell out for you the criteria to invest like Buffett, it certainly shows, with great clarity, what kind of man it takes to be Warren Buffett. The fact that it's a very interesting read and an excellent biography only add to its appeal.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 6, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Note: The review that follows is of the Second Edition.

I recently re-read this Buffett biography (first published in 1995 and now re-issued with a new Afterword, dated January 2008) and then read Alice Schroeder's The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life. Both are first-rate. Which to select if reading only one? That depends on how much you wish to know about Buffett's personal life, including his relations with various family members, and how curious you are about his personal hang-ups, peculiarities, eccentricities, fetishes, etc. If you can do without any of that, Roger Lowenstein's biography is the one to read. I also highly recommend the recently published Second Edition of The Essays of Warren Buffet: Lessons for Corporate America, with content selected, arranged, and introduced by Lawrence Cunningham.

In fact, I'd now like to provide a brief excerpt from Cunningham's Introduction: "The central theme uniting Buffett's lucid essays is that the principles of fundamental business analysis, first formulated by his teachers Ben Graham and David Dodd, should guide investment practice. Linked to that theme are management principles that define the proper role of corporate managers as the stewards of invested capital, and the proper role of shareholders as the suppliers and owners of capital. Radiating from these main themes are practical and sensible lessons on the entire range of business issues, from accounting to mergers to evaluation." Lowenstein does a skill job of examining the context in which various lessons were learned, both by Buffett and by those with whom he was associated.
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