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The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 29, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this startlingly frank account of Buffett's life, Schroeder, a former managing director at Morgan Stanley—and hand picked by Buffett to be his biographer—strips away the mystery that has long cloaked the word's richest man to reveal a life and fortune erected around lucid and inspired business vision and unimaginable personal complexity. In a book that is dominated by unstinting descriptions of Buffett's appetites—for profit, women (particularly nurturing maternal types), food (Buffett maintained his and his family's weight by "dangling money")—it is refreshing that Schroeder keeps her tone free of judgment or awe; Buffett's plain-speaking suffuses the book and renders his public and private successes and failures wonderfully human and universal. Schroeder's sections detailing the genesis of Buffett's investment strategy, his early mentoring by Benjamin Graham (who imparted the memorable "cigar butt" scheme: purchasing discarded stocks and taking a final puff). Inspiring managerial advice abounds and competes with gossipy tidbits (the married Buffett's very public relationship with Washington Post editor Katherine Graham) in this rich, surprisingly affecting biography.

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
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Books; 1st edition (September 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553805096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553805093
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 2.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (396 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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.

Customer Reviews

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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142 of 169 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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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mike on January 29, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want some technical tips on how to be the next Warren Buffet, go grab a copy of Ben Graham's Security Analysis from 1934. But if you want a look at the man Warren Buffett, you have come to the right place. Want to know what kind of family man Buffet is? Want to know how a billionaire treats his children? Or how a young millionaire budgets money to his homemaker wife? Fascinating stuff.

You can also learn about his early career and how he got started, as well as his father the politician and the impact that had.

To many of us Warren Buffet is a billionaire investor who knows the ins and outs of Wall Street way better than most of us. Being a financial celebrity, you would expect to find his whole life online. That though isn’t the case with Warren. Little was known about his personal life until Alice Schroeder wrote this book- The Snowball: Warren Buffet and the Business of Life. Reading through the book you will realize that you don’t have to be successful after everyone else has failed. Warren, commonly known as the “Oracle of Omaha” is a financial investor who also doubles up as a mentor. For only $13.84, you will get to meet Warren in this 832 pages book. He will endow you with timeless financial wisdom and proper business ethics that aren’t taught in school.

His practical approach to life will motivate you to kick start your own. The pity party story that one may tend to propagate as reason as to why they aren’t succeeding will diffuse after reading this book. Warren worked to be where he is currently and was never born with a silver spoon. He is a practical inspiration. As you read along, you will learn that no man is an island and that having a strong support system will go a long way in ensuring you succeed.
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