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

4.1 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471446910
ISBN-10: 0471446912
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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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (May 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471446912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471446910
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #317,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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