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.
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."
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