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Customer Review

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Pretty Good, October 25, 2008
This review is from: Pilgrimage to Warren Buffett's Omaha: A Hedge Fund Manager's Dispatches from Inside the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting (Hardcover)
As a long time reader of Mr. Matthews' blog, JeffMatthewsIsNotMakingThisUp, I looked forward with anticipation to his book on his take-aways from the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meetings. Upon reading, I was not disappointed. The book is based on a series of blog posts from the first year Mr. Matthews attended the "Woodstock of Capitalism", as the Berkshire shareholder meetings are affectionately referred to.

The book, I should note, is not another biography of Warren Buffett like Roger Lowenstein's excellent "Buffett: The Making of An American Capitalist". Nor is the book a distillation of Berkshire Hathaway's investment tenets such as Robert Hagstrom's "The Warren Buffett Way". The book focuses mainly on the type of questions Berkshire shareholders ask Mr. Buffett and his partner, Charlie Munger, as well as the answers they provide. The author then proceeds to offer his own take on the views shared by Mr. Buffett and Mr. Munger, as well as the questioners/shareholders themselves.

Mr. Matthews throughout his work offers some great contrasts between the public pronouncements by Mr. Buffett and the actions Berkshire Hathaway takes with its float and shareholder capital. An example would be Berkshire's use of derivatives on currency trades, while Mr. Buffett publicly pronounces the use of derivatives as "financial weapons of mass destruction".

Readers will also get the sense of the admiration the author holds for Mr. Buffett and the way he runs Berkshire shareholder meetings, which are unlike any other shareholder meeting for American publicly traded companies. One need only remember the time Bob Nardelli, then CEO of Home Depot, back in May 2006 not even answering shareholder questions about CEO compensation or having a truly independent board of directors.

The reason I give the book four stars is while the subject is both unexplored and given a breezy, easy-to-read treatment, I felt the book could have gone much further given the subject. I would have given the book five stars had the author contrasted the Berkshire shareholder meeting with that of another publicly traded company Mr. Matthews holds to see how Berkshire sets the standard for the way shareholder meetings should be run.

Overall, I found the book to be a pretty good read and you won't be disappointed with the treatment given by the author.
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