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Damn Right: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger [Paperback]

by Janet Lowe
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 9, 2003 0471446912 978-0471446910
Praise for Damn Right!
From the author of the bestselling WARREN BUFFETT SPEAKS. . .
"Charlie Munger, whose reputation is deep and wide, based on an extraordinary record of brilliantly successful business strategies, sees things that others don't. There is a method to his mastery and, through this book, we get a chance to learn about this rare individual." -MICHAEL EISNER, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company
"Janet Lowe uncovers the iconoclastic genius and subtle charm behind Charlie Munger's curmudgeonly facade in this richly woven portrait of our era's heir to Ben Franklin. With a biographer's detachment, an historian's thoroughness, and a financial writer's common sense, Lowe produces a riveting account of the family, personal, and business life of the idiosyncratically complex and endlessly fascinating figure." -LAWRENCE CUNNINGHAM, Cardozo Law School, Author of The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America
"For years, Berkshire Hathaway shareholders and investors worldwide (me included) have struggled to learn more about Warren Buffett's cerebral sidekick. Now we can rest and enjoy reading Janet Lowe's book about this rare intellectual jewel called Charlie Munger." -ROBERT G. HAGSTROM, Author of The Warren Buffett Way
"Charlie has lived by the creed that one should live a life that doesn't need explaining. But his life should be explained. In a city where heroism is too often confused with celebrity, Charlie is a true hero and mentor. He lives the life lessons that he has studiously extracted from other true heroes and mentors, from Ben Franklin to Ben Graham. This book illuminates those life lessons." -RONALD L. OLSON, Munger, Tolles & Olson llp
"Janet Lowe's unprecedented access to Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett has resulted in a first-class book that investors, academics, and CEOs will find entertaining and highly useful."-TIMOTHY P. VICK, Money Manager and Author of How to Pick Stocks Like Warren Buffett

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Damn Right: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger + Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

HWhen Warren Buffett's partner, fellow Nebraskan and Berkshire Hathaway vice-chairman Charles T. Munger (now 76 years old) was a young boy, his hero was the independent Robinson Crusoe. As he grew older, he strove (and still strives) to emulate the creative thinker Benjamin Franklin, whom Munger admires most for his commitment to social causes and philanthropy. (Munger is one of the pioneering supporters of Planned Parenthood.) Lowe, who spent three intensive years learning about Munger's life and work, had the full cooperation of his subject for this biography and access to his vast network of admiring and devoted business associates, his family and his lifelong friends. She does a superb job of re-creating Munger's development from a respectable lawyer to a savvy investor, providing intricate details about the incisive thinking behind his business deals, which she weaves into a captivating narrative. The droll, brilliant, focused and intensely private Munger conducts his business the way he lives his life: he invests his time and his money in people of strong moral character and businesses that are intrinsically sound. He is not averse to risk, because he calculates it carefully, and, most crucially, when he makes a commitment, he does so for the long term. Agent, Alice Fried Martell.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


She's Bullish on the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Money talks - in an astonishing number of languages. Janet Lowe' s books on business and finance have been translated into 17 tongues, including Thai, Hebrew, Slovenian and three different kinds of Chinese.

President of the San Diego Press Club, former financial editor of the San Diego Tribune and the author of 16 books, Lowe' s writing focuses on the leaders of specific industries. Her latest work, "Damn Right! Behind the Scenes With Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger," gives further evidence of Lowe' s expertise on money-related success.

The very rich, she observes, seem to have one particular thing in common.

"The people that I have written about all earned their own wealth. They are not inheritors. They did not fall by it accidentally," she said. "It came about as the result of having a particular talent that they recognized very early in their lives, and they concentrated on it."

She says that Warren Buffett was fascinated by investing even as a child, that Oprah Winfrey began working in radio and television while still in high school, that Ted Turner, although a "wild child," was always someone who saw big ideas and took big risks.

Lowe challenges the stereotype of the wealthy as dishonest and ruthless. Money talks - but it talks straight.

"People usually do not rise to this level unless they' re very smart, good communicators, and ethical," she explained. "You may not agree with the philosophy of a Warren Buffett or a Jack Welch (the head of General Electric) and with what they do or how they feel, but they are honest and true to themselves and they follow an ethical course. They'll tell you that if you' re not a straight shooter and an honest dealer, people will see that and not work with you."

The San Diego Union-Tribune Online (By Sarah Sabalos LaSpaluto, October 29, 2000

"Janet Lowe's extensive access to Charlie Munger, his family, friends and business partners has ensured a perceptive look at the man and his business methods." (Lloyd's List, 9th December 2000)

"This is a well-written, fascinating, cautionary tale which examines the seductive nature of power, and people's willingness to believe in these latter-day icons." (International Wealth Management, October 2000) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (May 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471446912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471446910
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 3.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Janet Lowe's career as a writer has included everything from freelance feature writer to technical writer, poet, reporter, editor, media spokesperson and author of 18 books and audiotapes.

The "Speaks" series -- small, carefully researched biographies of American leaders including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jack Welch, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan and the founders of Google -- are her best-known books. Among her full-length biographies is Damn Right: The Story of Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger.

Lowe is a leading authority on the value investing theory. Her books on that subject include Benjamin Graham on Value Investing, Value Investing Made Easy and others.

Her books have been reviewed by USAToday, Newsweek, Barron's, and dozens of other national publications. She has been a guest on Jim Lehrer's News Hour, the PBS Nightly Business Report, CNN, CNBC and many national and local televisions shows.

Lowe's freelance articles have appeared in more than 100 publications including Newsweek, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times, Dallas Morning News, the San Jose Mercury News, San Diego Union-Tribune, Modern Maturity, Planning Magazine and others.

A popular public speaker, Janet has addressed investment seminars in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain. She has appeared before audiences at the University of Nebraska and University of Nevada at Las Vegas business schools. She has been a guest speaker at the New York City Financial Analyst's Society and has been asked to speak to private companies such as Brandes Investment Partners in Del Mar, California.

Lowe grew up in California and Nevada, attended Las Vegas High School and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Economics from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. She earned her Master's Degree in Mass Communications from San Diego State University. She completed a Wharton Business School fellowship and has a lifetime teaching certificate in California.

Janet has been a San Diego YMCA Woman of Achievement. She is past president of both the San Diego County Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists. She was named San Diego Press Club's Journalist of the Year in 2000 and again in 2007.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
163 of 167 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Personal Details of a Famous Investor January 4, 2001
This book is a standard, well-written biography of Mr. Munger, Berkshire Hathaway's vice chairman. From this book, you will learn a great deal about how Mr. Munger became a billionaire, his relationship with Mr. Warren Buffett (Berkshire's more famous chairman), his family life, and his charitable activities. This book is a very enjoyable read from those perspectives. On the other hand, it lacks a full exposition of Mr. Munger's investment philosophy and his interesting ideas about what an ideal education is. Since Mr. Munger is famous for being quite voluble in private and he made himself available for this biography, I was puzzled why both areas are sketchily covered. As a result, this book falls far short of what readers will want to know. Conversely, I suspect that this is the best available book on Mr. Munger, so you may well want to read it until a more complete one emerges.
To me, the most interesting part of the book came in Appendix D where two of Mr. Munger's speeches describe the need for a generalist perspective for applying modern scientific ideas to making good decisions. One talks about the scientific principles that explain Coca-Cola's long-term success. Obviously, this has a nice connection to investing since Berkshire Hathaway is a large investor in Coca-Cola. Presumably, this describes some of the thinking that went into the decision to purchase that stock. But that is never made explicit.
I immediately wanted to know more. How had Mr. Munger analyzed each of the major investments that Mr. Buffett and he had made together? What were the things that turned out to be right about these analyses and what wrong? What are the lessons? You get a great deal about the relationship between Mr. Munger and Mr.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Buffett's Lesser Known Sidekick June 13, 2001
By Ian
Janet Lowe has done a reasonable job of chronicling the life of Charlie Munger.
For people who have read a considerable amount about Warren Buffett and Berkshire, a lot of what is included in this book would already be known.
I found that there was too much space devoted to Munger's family at the expense of Munger himself. The book is sub-titled: "Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger" not: "Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger's Family", which is what it risked turning into (especially in the first half or so of the book). Munger might have a wonderful family but no-one is buying the book to read about them.
Munger is obviously known primarily as an extraordinarily successful investor and as such it is a little disappointing that Lowe did not probe deeper into the underlying thought behind some of the major investment decisions that Munger has been involved with during his career, especially given that Munger made himself accessible to the author for the purposes of this book. I was not looking for a Robert Hagstrom type analysis, but some more detailed textual information would have been appropriate. If you want an example of what I'm talking about read Roger Lowenstein's excellent biography Buffett (The Making of an American Capitalist).
I also found it disappointing that Lowe re-published in one of the appendices a talk that Munger gave in 1996 which Andy Kilpatrick had already included in his 1998 edition of Of Permanent Value, perhaps Lowe could have found something previously unpublished for this book.
For the record Page 254 states that See's Candy was purchased for $2m (it should read $25 million), page 255 states that the Buffalo Evening News was purchased for $2.5 million (it should read $32.5 million).
Overall the book is worth having a look at but if you're a seasoned Buffett/Berkshire follower do not expect to learn a lot in addition to what you already know.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Without a doubt, Lowe has written an extremely interesting biography of Charles Munger, vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. We learn about Charlie's background, his family (maybe a little too much about his family), and how he eventually met up with a gentleman named Warren Buffett (maybe you've heard of this guy, eh?).
From a purely biographical standpoint, you'll want to read this book. Gives much insight into Charlie's personal character as well as some insight into Buffett's character.
What I think the book misses on is investment technique. Granted, that's not how the book is advertised...it is a biography. But, I was hoping to get some better insight into the Munger/Buffett investment style. I was hoping the author would--at least--tease me a bit. No such luck.
It's an enjoyable read.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Overall the book is ok, probably a good fast read for someone who wants background information on munger. Unfortunately the book is nothing more than background information source. And if you have read a book on warren buffett then you are going to have a strong feeling of deja vu.
The book seriously misses its main subject and for too long (it gets irritating at times) just talks about mungers family history, his wife's family history and his uncle, aunts and what have you. This is done pretty in-depth so if you are looking for a munger family history - this is going to be a good start.
Unfortunately when you come to the main topic - munger himself - the book looses its sense of depth. It becomes like reading a newspaper - you get to know all the infortanr events that happened but there is no analysis, no attempt to show what factors influenced munger's decision to invest in a particular stock. To compound matters furhter in the midst of some good gripping investment decision janet lowe has the habbit of squezing in some dog and cat story - at times i looked forward to finishing the dog and cat story to read more about the investment decision but guess what - there was nothing more on it - it left me with a feeling of wanting more - a whole lot more.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read!
The book is well written and organized. An impressive life for No.2 figure of Berkshire Hathaway after Warren Buffett. Read more
Published 2 months ago by L. Zhao
3.0 out of 5 stars Investing Education
I was looking for more information on investing in stocks. How and why he makes investments. What he looks for.
Published 4 months ago by Jim Roth
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read
It's a maiming story. It very much sounds like a fairly tale, but it is a true story of a
Man who faced all adversities of life with courage and grit and was determined... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Pankaj Murarka
4.0 out of 5 stars 'twas good
Bit to much on his ancestors rather than him. Would have liked a bit more about his investing, BYD motivations etc.
Published 7 months ago by Skeed
5.0 out of 5 stars A revealing biography
Published 9 months ago by abraham kaplan
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible writing, terrible structure, ruined such a fascinating...
I picked up this book with great anticipation because Charlie Munger is one of the broadest thinkers in the investment business. Read more
Published 11 months ago by V
5.0 out of 5 stars Old. And very good. Uses Coke to make a vast generalisation about...
If you thought that Warren Buffet's mate was a back room boy then you're wrong. This will teach you about global success on a single human's scale. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ulu S. Aiono
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Great read, very in depth and a great insight to the life of Charlie Munger. It did however drag on in some parts, but over all worth reading
Published 16 months ago by Kaitlyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Page Turner
This is a fabulous story of a man who, through an insatiable desire to attain both wisdom and wealth, overcame obstacles that many face... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Ryan D. Bond
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Munger life story - a mind set story
Damn Right! Is the story of Charles Munger and the Munger family, Charles Munger is the decades long partner of Warren Buffett. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Amir
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