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The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life Paperback – October 27, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Updated edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553384619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553384611
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (341 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Successful investor Warren Buffett sits down with author Schroeder to give readers deep and erudite insights into his work and personal life. Detailing his views on current trends in the economy and society, Buffet speaks with tremendous wisdom about everything from his family to his business ethics. Richard McGonagle gives an eloquent, straightforward reading. He has a knack for delivering words with a profound importance in his voice, drawing in listeners and holding their interest for hours. Schroeder reads her introduction and sets the tone for this revealing biography. A Bantam hardcover (reviewed online). (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Warren Buffett should be applauded for allowing such open access to his life. Alice Schroeder, who interviewed friends and family, pored over Buffett's personal archive, and spent thousands of hours with Buffett, comes away with an unprecedented look at the hidden life of an American icon. At more than 900 pages (100 of which are notes), The Snowball—the title is a metaphor for the relentless growth of Buffett's portfolio—sets the bar high for future efforts. Schroeder's account is comprehensive and her eye for the telling detail keen; while she explains the financial deals, she also explores Buffett's childhood quirks and his unconventional marriage. Enough is enough, though, and John Mark Eberhart of the Kansas City Star speaks for several critics when he points out, "I just could have done with a little less bang for my buck."
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Dubbed by Risk and Insurance magazine as one of the most respected--and fearless--thinkers on Wall Street, Alice Schroeder is the author of The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, a #1 New York Times and #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller.

Schroeder started to track the story behind the money as a CPA, and former regulator for the Financial Accounting Standards Board. After joining Morgan Stanley, she was the first and only analyst to be granted an interview with the famously reticent Buffett. Telling The New York Times, "I like the way she thinks and writes," Buffett gave Schroeder unprecedented access -- to his files, family, business associates and himself, devoting massive amounts of his time over the course of five years - to interviews and questions.

The Snowball is a complete -- and revealing -- look at Buffett's life, wisdom and philosophy, from the development of his outlook on the world and the principles he lives by to the business secrets he has never before shared publicly. It was named Amazon's #1 Business and Investing Book of 2008 and one of the 10 best books of the year by TIME. That same year Ms. Schroeder was chosen alongside Ben Bernanke and Hillary Clinton as one of the"People to Watch" by BusinessWeek.

Now a Bloomberg News columnist, she continues her signature brand of telling the greater truth, and is on the road researching her next book.

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Customer Reviews

All 800 plus pages of this book take some time to read, but it is well worth it.
Jerry Sanchez
Then it is interesting how both Alice Schroeder and Kirsten Potter convey Warren Buffett in the first person as they relate the fascinating details of his life.
Optimist
Warren Buffett is one of the most important and successful people in the business world.
Ford Ka

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I recently re-read Roger Lowenstein's biography, Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist (first published in 1995 and now re-issued with a new Afterword), and then read this more recent one by Alice Schroeder. 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.

The heft of Schroeder's biography may discourage some people from obtaining a copy. To them I presume to suggest that they not be deterred by that factor. Schroeder has a lively, often entertaining writing style that drives the narrative through just about every period and (yes) interlude of Warren Buffett's life and career thus far. There is much more information provided than most readers either need or desire. However, she had unprecedented access not only to Buffett but to just about everyone else with whom he is (or once was) associated as well as to previously inaccessible research resources. It is possible but highly unlikely that anyone else will write a more comprehensive biography than Schroeder has, at least for the next several years, if not decades. Also, her opinion of Buffett seems to me to be balanced and circumspect. No doubt he wishes that certain details about his life and career were not included.
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136 of 163 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on September 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book refers to Buffett's likening life to a snowball - "the important thing is to find wet snow and a really long hill." Buffett certainly has had that effect with money.

"The Snowball" begins with a Buffett presentation to an elite 1999 group at Sun Valley, suggesting in a humorous manner that the ".com" frenzy was no more than a bubble. Then, its on to learning why his associate Charles Munger (an inseparable partner since 1959) is both the opposite and highly similar to Buffett.

Warren Buffett, we learn comes from a heritage of very thrifty small business owners. His parents initially struggled through the Great Depression, carried initially by grandfather's letting the food bill run at his grocery store, then by the success of his newly opened stock brokerage that focused on conservative investments. Unfortunately, his mother was somewhat unbalanced, directing frequent tirades at Warren and his sister, creating a lifelong need for the approval of women. Calculating the comparative life spans of religious song writers while in church led Warren towards religious skepticism at an early age.
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190 of 239 people found the following review helpful By T. Huang on October 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This review is to balance off the many positive reviews in Amazon:
(and to apply an expression from Berkshire Hathaway's brilliant Vice Chairman, Charlie Munger:
"Invert, always invert".)

~
point #1 on Alice Schroeder's Buffett biography:
When someone asked "what factor did people feel was the most important in getting to where they`d gotten in life" (sic), both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates answered: "focus" (p. 623)

Unfortunately, focus is missing in Schroeder's wordy, rambling 960 page biography. A quarter to a third of the content could have been pruned. This book could have used a few more months of rewriting, with more disciplined editing. Schroeder's book was at least five years in the making, yet With the world financial maelstrom upon us now, one wonders its September 2008 release is merely opportunistic publishing.

point #2: To use a Buffett expression: Schroeder is beyond her "circle of competence" . Schroeder has a finance background. When reading this book, We see can tell she does not have any past experience on writing an extensive in-depth personal biography.

~
In contrast, I would recommend you also read the Buffett biography written by Roger Lowenstein. Although published in 1995, it has a professional writer`s mark of clarity. Regrettably, Buffett gave Lowenstein a chilly reception after its publication. Lowenstein may have unfortunately become shut out from accessing Buffett for a subsequent revision.

In summary, Schroeder`s biography is worth reading, but you should expect to exert much patience and persistence when plowing through it. You will find nuggets in there, if you mentally block out certain sections and read between the lines.
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