- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Carolina Academic Press; 3rd edition (March 15, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1611634091
- ISBN-13: 978-1611634099
- Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.8 x 10.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 262 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, Third Edition 3rd Edition
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Buffett, the Bard of Omaha, is a genuine American folk hero, if folk heroes are allowed to build fortunes worth upward of $15 billion. He's great at homespun metaphor, but behind those catchy phrases is a reservoir of financial acumen that's generally considered the best of his generation. For example, in an essay on CEO stock options, he writes, "Negotiating with one's self seldom produces a barroom brawl." This is his way of saying that an executive who can give himself compensation totally disproportionate to his performance surely will. There are uncountable gems of financial wisdom to be harvested from these essays, taken from the annual reports he writes for Berkshire Hathaway, his holding company. Just to pick one more, here's a now-famous line about those he competes with when making stock-market investments: "What could be more advantageous in an intellectual contest--whether it be chess, bridge, or stock selection--than to have opponents who have been taught that thinking is a waste of energy?"
While Buffett has a policy of seldom commenting on stocks he owns--he feels public pronouncements will only lead to the public's expectation of more public pronouncements, and he likes to keep his cards close to his vest--he loves to discuss the principles behind his investments. These come primarily from Ben Graham, under whom Buffett studied at Columbia University and for whom he worked in the 1950s. First among them is the idea that price is what you pay and value is what you get--and if you're a smart investor, the first will always be less than the second. In that sense, the value of the lessons learned from Buffett's Essays could be far greater than the book's price. --Lou Schuler --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"Larry Cunningham has done a great job collating our philosophy. First class."
"Two thumbs up."
"The book on Buffett. A superb job."
"A classic on value investing and the definitive source on Buffett."
One of "the smartest books we know."
"Of incalculable and timeless value. Cunningham's Introduction (all by itself) is worth much more than the cost of the book."
--Robert Morris, Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer
"Recommended reading for the President of the United States and everyone else, not only corporate executives."
--Joe Nocera, The New York Times
"Warren Buffett’s shareholder letters are available on the Berkshire website, but this is a brilliant alternative to the forbidding prospect of working through all of them. In The Essays of Warren Buffett, released in a new edition about every five years, most recently in a 3rd edition in 2013, Lawrence Cunningham has created a highly readable and topically indexed volume."
--Kevin LaCroix, The D&O Diary
"Larry Cunningham takes Buffett's brilliant letters to a still-higher level by reorganizing them into single-subject chapters. The book begins, moreover, with an excellent introduction by Larry."
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There is no shortage of books on Warren Buffet. It is an interesting state of affairs: numerous writers, pundits, and other Warren Buffet "experts" opining on the life and investing decisions of perhaps the greatest investing and capitalist "expert" of all time.
Others opining on the life of a genius is often necessary, when it comes to understanding the broader impact that genius has had on society. A masterful investor, scientist, engineer, or whatever is not also necessarily always an effective writer and communicator. Mr. Buffet, however, is a rare breed.
Not only has Mr. Buffet, across his lifetime, compiled the most impressive track record capitalism has ever produced- one of growth, achievement, societal awareness and improvement, but he can also write. He writes in a language that is, in the words of Montaigne, "simple...succulent and sinewy, brief and compressed...brusque."
Lawrence A. Cunningham through this book expresses an important truth- when a man such as Mr. Buffet writes with the clarity and power that he does, not much benefit is given to the reader by adding words on top of what is already clear and powerful prose. If one is trying to make sense of Mr. Buffet and his philosophies, the best place to start is with Mr. Buffet's own "sinewy" words, which are presented, unadorned except with a short preface, in this book.
"Essays" is a bit of a misnomer for the content of this book. In fact, this book is actually a compilation of excerpts from the Annual Letters Mr. Buffet has written to the shareholders of his company, Berkshire Hathaway, over the last thirty plus years. Worth noting, these very letters are available, in their entirety, on the World Wide Web for free. Something, however, is definitely gained through reading Mr. Buffet's words as Mr. Cunningham has arranged them.
Mr. Cunningham has arranged this book by subject, rather than time- and the effect is pleasing and effective. The way that Mr. Cunningham chose to arrange Mr. Buffet's letters is into the following categories: Corporate Governance, Corporate Finance and Investing, Alternatives to Common Stock, Common Stock, Mergers and Acquisitions, Accounting and Valuation, and Accounting Policy and Tax Matters.
The effect of Cunningham's carefully-chosen delineations is a book that has more the feel of an educational guide, than a story of Mr. Buffet's investing career and his company, Berkshire Hathaway.
What emerges out of this educational guide is the philosophy and teachings of a gifted Professor and practitioner. No matter whether Mr. Buffet is waxing poetic on business or outlining his scruples over how corporations account for equity stock options, out of his writing emerges a consistent and eloquent philosophy on the "right" and effective approach to business, investing, capitalism, and life.
The "Buffet Way", perhaps impossible to summarize fully in a few short sentences, is stoic and original. The practitioner of this philosophy is one who stands apart from society, ignores any "institutional imperative" that may impede rational decision-making. The "Buffet Way" is a mode of analysis that knows the bounds of its own limitations, and is free of emotion. The Buffet Way demands that every decision require a "margin of safety" or room for error.
Most importantly, Mr. Buffet's view of investing, and particularly of investing in the stock market or in other marketable securities, grasps a simple but important concept that is lost on so many market pundits and practitioners: stocks are not abstractions. Stocks are certificates that represent a share of ownership in an underlying business. Too often people don't look through stocks to the underlying business they represent. This book aptly is subtitled, "Lessons for Corporate America", because Mr. Buffet is after all an evaluator of businesses.
Stocks and their prices are only relevant when they become disjointed, in a favorable way, from the underlying realities of the business they represent.
To think the "Buffet Way" takes more, though, than knowing the concept's basic precepts. It takes discipline, and a stoic fight against the animal spirits that so often lead investors astray. This book and its precepts are worth reading, and rereading, until hopefully its lessons are engrained in the psyche in a way that they become impossible to ignore.
The book is organized like an investing textbook, written by Mr. Buffett. It does not simply put all of his letters into a book... instead, it takes various themes and chapters. Then sections of his various shareholder letters that discuss that are laid out in that section.
If you wanted to list the topics you would put into an investment book, then look through all the shareholder letters to find the sections that deal with that topic, then perhaps this would not be worth 20 bucks to have it already done for you.
In effect, this is a 299 page investment textbook written by Warren Buffett (effectively). How much would I pay for that...? Well over the 20 or so dollars this cost me to get it on my Kindle. :)
Thank you for such a GREAT book...:)
Inspiring and achievable philosophy for more than just investments - Mr. Buffett seems genuinely happy with his life, and I honestly believe it's because he enjoys what he does and who he is working with more than the billions in the bank he has.