Warren Buffett and the Business of Life - The Snowball

By Alice Schroeder

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
zee sayed
* Review of unabridged audiobook *

I found this to be an excellent biography because it provides a detailed and apparently accurate and balanced portrait of Warren Buffett. We learn that if there was ever a genius of business and investing, Buffett is that genius. Surely, anyone who achieves such an outlier level of success has had good luck overall, but this biography convincingly shows that Buffett hasn't merely been unusually lucky. Here are some of his key attributes:

- Narrow and intense focus on business and amassing money since he was a young child
- Son of a stockbroker/business owner
- Very thorough investment researcher
- Tremendous memory and quantitative analytical ability
- Ability to filter out noise and cut to the chase
- Iron-willed discipline and patience
- Courage to act on his convictions
- Consistent personal integrity in dealing with business associates
- Effective and disarming communicator
- Deep-seated desire to gain approval and guard his reputation

I'm rarely awed by anyone, but I have to say that I'm awed by Buffett. At the same time, the traits that made Buffett so successful also had saddening downsides. His relationships with his wife and children were odd and/or weak, he provided limited advice and money to his children, he was rather dependent on the women in his life to take care of everything outside his business/investing focus, and he was arguably miserly to a fault, though his turn to philanthropy in later life is admirable and partially redeeming. This is a man who was profoundly wise when it came to his work and other aspects of life, yet surprisingly disinterested or even naive when it came to his family life.

There is much to be learned about many things from this engaging biography, so I highly recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I must thank Schroeder for taking the time to dive into the mind of a man many were curious to know and understand. Warren for allowing this.
I loved the memories he brings to life of his adolescence and there are many humorous moments. But this also reads as a history book and at times security analysis. But basically it dives into the private life of he, Warren, and his thought process. I came away with a few things.
1. I feel very sorry for the man. I almost pity now rather than admire him as much for in many things I feel money has become his God and he is so programmed to accumulate wealth that he has a hard time of stopping to smell the roses or bending down to show comfort. For this, many of his relationships suffer. This can be attributed to his upbringing but he was always conscious of the emotional shortcomings of his grandfather and parents. 2. I love his strong sense of work ethic and reminds me as a kid going to work at 9 years old with the family and doing my own thing on the side. Nevertheless, a good read, albeit long. But sometimes our heroes are less majestic in real life ; or, when put on paper in this matter. I wasn't sure what to make of it so I borrowed this from my local library. yes, it was long, as some have said, but it does grab you. However, there are dragging moments and I did become frustrated with the constant repetition at times. And yes, further editing was needed. But for what it's worth, you'll never see another like this. Truth be told, I would then want a book written on his death bed to see what universal wisdom he can/chooses to pass on. enjoy
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This is a very thorough and very detailed account of Mr. Buffett's life. It includes many stories and details about events in his life, some interesting and some not so much. Regardless, if you want quick information related to his investment strategies, this is probably not the book for you. However, if you are interested in a thorough review of his life experiences and interactions with different people over the years, you are likely to find this book interesting.

For books that are more about investing, you might prefer The Intelligent Investor Rev Ed. or Security Analysis: Sixth Edition, Foreword by Warren Buffett (Security Analysis Prior Editions)

With that said, I would still recommend this book, but be prepared to invest a decent amount of time to it, as it is lengthy.
Investment Strategies of the World's Greatest Investor :: The Search for the Company with a Durable Competitive Advantage :: 30 Years of Lessons Learned from Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger at the Annual Shareholders Meeting :: Hannah's List (Reprint) (3/27/11) - By Debbie Macomber :: Jack: Straight from the Gut
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Junk, was intended for my friend's birthday and now it's useless. Can't send it back, cause it would cost me more than what i paid for the book. THX the store for bungling such an easy task. Have never seen a book like this - each page lenght is different.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ida bromfield
In 'The Snowball' Alice Schroeder writes a deeply intimate account of Warren Buffett's life. The book is unique among other Buffett biographies in that it was personally approved; Buffett granted her unlimited interview time with himself and family. Through this access, Schroeder gives an inside account of his interesting personal and business life.

Through the book, we learn the lessons and experiences that made Warren who he is. By the end of each section, we see trials that would metabolize into his personality. Consistently ranked as one of the richest men in the world, many people scratch their head curious to how a simple Midwesterner could ascend to such heights. We find the same secrets we do in all wealthy men-- saving, investing, and the benefits of compound growth. When asked the most contributing factor to his success, his answer was 'Focus' (Ironically, his good friend Bill Gates, also listed the same reason).

If you're looking for Buffett's investment style, this isn't the best piece. It also isn't the shortest (well over 800 pages). Schroeder writes in exquisite detail, sometimes leaving one wondering why we need to know all the names and details she lists. Still, no Buffett biography can come close for those looking for a thorough and complete account of the legendary investor.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
pudji tursana
The growth of the famous multi-billion dollar fortune is traced step by step in great detail and Warren Buffett's personality is laid out. His unrelenting focus on doing what he loves, making money, is fascinating and instructive (most of us don't have the necessary wiring and should stick to low-cost index funds). All the 830 pages are not, however, narrowly focused on Mr. Buffett. Many mini-biographies of relatives, friends, partners and associates who influenced Warren Buffet are included and richly expand the scope of this book. In interviews on television Warren Buffett routinely states that he is wired differently. There is proof for that statement in almost every chapter. But usually he also says that he had terrific parents. This is a misleading but a kind thing to say, because various chapters document the fact that one parent, his mother, subjected Warren Buffet, as a child, to terrible verbal abuse (could that have affected the wiring? the author is not psychiatrist and does not speculate). But she was his mother not an investment, icy cold judgment and honesty would make no sense, kindness does. But obviously "terrific parents" are not a requirement for becoming a billionaire. The "wiring" seems to be the key.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I personal prefer the style of Roger Lowenstein in "The Making of an American Capitalist" because in only 426 pages covers more that "The Snowball" even though Alice Schroeder spent endless hours with Warren it doesn't look that she added very much to what Roger had said more than 10 years ago. Alice book is very easy to read, but it has too many editing errors at times I felt lost in a sea of names and facts that are hard to connect. What I liked about this book is that it gave me an insight to Warren's personal life and emotions, his marriage to Susie, death of family members and friends; the book focuses more on his emotional state rather than his mental state. A lot of people though that they were going to learn about the way he locates his stocks and how he values the company but the title of the book is about "the business of life" the way he sees it.
As an investor Warren Buffet is clearly the greatest investor in the world but "in the business of life" this so complex man has a lot of debits as well of credits on his personal balance sheet, his thinking was shaped by these influences: The Great Depression and his corrosive relationship with this mother Leila, then his relationships with these women: his wife Susie, Astrid, Kay Graham and Rose Blumkin - the Russian who arrived as a penniless immigrant and went on to build the biggest furniture store in USA she was a role model to Buffet.

I read this heavy book in 3 days because I wanted to know how he thinks and the strategies he used to created his wealth but I came to realize one thing that this man is a genius, a self-centered man who only cared about almost nothing but making money. The anecdotes about young Warren explain his fanaticism over anything to do with numbers. The way money matters to Buffet amazes me he might not spend it but he has spent his life collecting it; he was greedy with his money but at his death his wealth would go to philanthropy he broke the mold again! I say this man is the most fascinating American success story of our time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
edwith theogene
Wonderful insight into the life, business and humanity of Warren Buffett. Defying the elitism and profligacy of the wealthy fringe, the world's richest man leads by example as a responsible and moral compass for business, the wealthy, and philanthropy. Well researched and written if your intent is to read a biography, which it is meant to be. The many characters in his life come alive and help explain the complexities of someone who is really a simple, humble man at heart. 5 Stars
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I recommend this book to those: interested in a financial genius, some salient financial / insights, and what ultimately becomes of a trek through fulfillment of a passion.
Let it be known that it is a rare thing for me to be simultaneously in-awe, saddened, and inspired by someone especially good at amassing great mountains of wealth and financial success.

His journey from (1) laser-beam focused, insanely curious child to (2) a middle-aged multi-millionaire with a neglected family to (3) a mega-billionaire, globally conscious, concerned philanthropist is quite a trip. I feel the book is probably a little long for most people's liking, but I don't think the sense of immersion could be achieved at any other lower level of content.

This is a good lesson-filled journey on what to do, and not to do, in the life of those who want to make a difference in the world.
I listened to the audiobook, which I would rate as above average quality.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kelly jarosinski
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Less than half of it was very good. The other half of it could have been edited out. You need to be a certain level of Buffett fan with a certain level of tolerance for long reads before you decide to embark on this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mostafa kamal
One has to give Alice Schroeder her due in that she has written a comprehensive and exhaustive biography of one of the most enigmatic and legendary people in American business history. This book goes into exacting and stunning detail for a biography subject. The Buffett family is exposed, warts and all for the world to see. The book can at times be a bit drag and I will say that I found it overlong and at times Schroeder offered too much detail it did excel at portraying interesting people in a linear fashion so we can see how they got to their final destinations. And special kudo's to Schroeder for making dull financial events seem like thrillers.

The author sweeps in and out with both Buffet's inner circle and the group of celebrities he eventually becomes one with. The pacing is seamless and all in all the focus never strays far from Warren. Well worth reading and entertaining, if a little bit too long!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
todd norris
Alice Schroeder's comprehensive biography of the sage of Omaha is titled, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life. Rather than hauling around the 976 page hardcover, I purchased this title for my SONY e-Reader, and picked it up and put it down dozens of times over the past year. I found The Snowball to be best devoured a few snowflakes at a time. Schroeder covers Buffett's personal and business life at a level of detail that bordered on "too much information." From a personal perspective, Buffett comes across as a quirky and needy person whose demands on others came across as unreasonable and excessive. Buffett's obsession with making money comes across as something he focused on so completely that when he needed to pay attention to other areas of life, he seemed lost and confused. Any reader with an interest in Warren Buffett will find the anecdotes and insight on these pages to be a joy to read.

Rating: Three-star (Recommended)
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Schroeder writes that one of the books that influenced Buffett greatly in his youth was Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People". Buffett applied the lessons of that book throughout his life. Schroeder comes up with the term "Carnegize".. This book is technically not an autobiography but for all practical reasons it is one. Buffett Carnegized Schroeder to write this book.

I am not a fan of autobiographies. No matter how hard authors try, they cannot help being biased. Furthermore, a complementary book written by Schroeder is a lot more flattering than if it was written by Buffett. Having read much about Buffett, I suspect he realized the advantages of motivating a good author like Schroeder to write his biography. Her book mostly paints Buffett in a positive light. Nothing wrong with that especially that I believe he is a brilliant man. His values, motivations, intelligence and logic are impressive and deserve lots of praise. However, Schroeder falls short when it comes to some of the more sensitive aspects of Buffett's life. Here are three examples.

Buffett's relationship with Susie (his first wife) and Astrid (his second wife) was unique and I had always been intrigued by it. Schroeder sheds little or no new light on what made this three-way relationship work. Also, Buffett and his sisters had a troubling relationship with their mother. Schroeder repeatedly brings this up but does not go into depth as to why they were so troubled by their mother. Finally when Susie died she left 8 million dollars to John McCabe, her former tennis coach. She most likely was in a romantic relationship with him but Schroeder fails to explore this. I suspect investigating some of these issues would be troubling to Buffett and Schroeder probably wanted to please this kind man who was granting her so many interviews. I don't blame her for that but yet a great biography must not shy away from exposing important aspects of the individual's life. She interviewed lots of people for her book and could have easily enlightened readers more about some more aspects of Buffett's life.

"Snowball" is a well-written and engaging biography. Readers will learn a lot about a great man famous for his two greatest virtues, honesty and rationality. Schroeder's book requires no business background (she even has a footnote explaining what Dow Jones Industrials Average means) and is geared for all types of readers.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
pineapple in a can
I believe most people may have some major incorrect assumptions about Warren Buffet. For example, most people probably believe he made most of his money by being an excellent stock picker, buying the stock, then selling it for a profit. He was/is an excellent stock picker. He was a person who had the intelligence to understand the underrecognized wealth of a company, its assets, and earning potential. But his ability to create wealth was dependent as much or more on some other prominent, yet less recognized and less understood characteristics.

Here are some characteristics of Buffet's business life the average observer may not fully understand:

1) Buffet selected companies that would profit from his ownership and guidance. He bought companies he perceived would become more profitable under his direction, companies that without his direction would have likely done worse financially. In some cases, it's clearly implied that if Buffet's team had not bought the company, the company may have failed.

So, it wasn't simply a matter of Buffet seeing and recognizing undervalued assets or potentials. The company gained value after his purchase because of Buffet's guidance. The value didn't simply arise from the increased visibility that came from the company being added to Buffet's investment portfolio.

Buffet bought companies not only to profit from owning them. Rather, he bought companies when he believed his purchase and guidance would make the companies, their other owners (shareholders) and sometimes their employees, more profitable or wealthy - a win-win.

2) Buffet often bought controlling interests in the companies he invested in. Often, he did not prefer to purchase only a minority ownership interest in a company. He often preferred to buy a controlling interest, so that he could direct the company, their financial choices, and their distributions of assets.

Most of the time, Buffet didn't "give away" his money to a stock broker and lose control of how his money was used, like most investors do. When he bought a stock or company, he almost always maintained control of the assets he bought. This is incredibly rare in the world of stock purchases. Very few people have the amount of cash or business sense to buy controlling interests in as many diverse types of businesses as Buffet has done.

3) His financial objectives were not, as most might assume, to create a dynastic amount of wealth that he could transfer to his family line. Yes, he created a massive amount of wealth, and all of his immediate family members became very wealthy. But the majority of his wealth he chose to transfer to a charitable foundation that a) is not named after him or his family and b) will not be controlled by his directives.


My family has planted fruit trees in our back yard. It's interesting to me how few people plant fruit trees anymore. Most modern yards I visit don't have fruit trees. This is probably for many reasons. Fruit trees take a lot of regular work. And they are not a "quick return" project. They don't produce good fruit for at least 3 years after you start them. And I suppose most people just prefer to do the less work of buying their fruit at the grocery store.

But I believe it's important to plant fruit trees - trees that will create value and pleasant, measurable, and consistent benefits for others over time, even if we are no longer around to enjoy their fruits.

I love Buffet's story because his life's work was about finding underrecognized assets, then through his nurturing and involvement, the assets became more valuable, visible, and valued. He did not acquire assets or companies in order to hoard them or to create an excessive amount of benefits only for his immediate familiars. In the end, his life was about finding unseen wealth, growing that wealth, and sharing it efficiently with many others to create extraordinary benefits.

Buffet's life's work and teachings are models for creating wealth and tangible assets for not only himself but also for the greater good. He did it through many diverse types of businesses. And he did it with the intent of teaching others how to work each day to plant and grow trees that would create uncommonly good benefits down the road, even after we are all gone - a valuable and worthwhile artistic aspiration.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura macintosh
This is a surprisingly interesting, moving and educational work. As a biography I have to admit to some suspicions that much to the author's insistence otherwise that this biography is still biased in favor of Warren Buffett--which is no crime.

Having seen him interviewed, I'm not the least surprised that the author would be charmed by this man.

The educational aspects of this book are also clearly evident. As both a history lesson and source for investing research, there is much to be learned from this material. Especially with it's multiple references to Benjamin Graham's work, the Intelligent Investor.The Intelligent Investor: The Classic Text on Value Investing

Finally, the biggest surprise to me was how compelling a relatively minor character in the book is, namely Bill Gates.

As an Apple devotee who listened unimpressed to Bill Gate's book, The Road Ahead, I have never regarded Bill Gates as much more than the man who denied Apple and other visionary organizations their rightful places through contract manipulations and monopolistic practices of questionable legality. The Road Ahead (Penguin Readers, Level 3)

However, this book introduces a Bill Gates who cares passionately about his friends and family, and about making a positive impact on the world for this generation and for generations to come.

I know the title is meant refer to the power of compounding, but if anyone had told me that this book would actually make me come to like Bill Gates a little I would have said that there's a snowball's chance in hell of that happening. So for me personally, that will always be the true impact of this well crafted and well written piece.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ari elf
When it comes to investing and success stories there are very few people if any that could match Warren Buffet. This is the closed man so many want to get close to, a man who when he sneezes the world markets catch a cold. I was a bit skeptical of this book at the start trying to figure out how someone would portray Warren in this book and how well the research was conducted into the story.

There were a few parts here and there that contradicted other sources out there about Buffet but that is a given when you are dealing with a ghost in the public eye. One thing that truly amazed me was the details of how Warren grew up and how "radical" his dad was and disjointed the other side of the family was. Perhaps that was the boost he so needed.

This makes a great read if you just want to learn more about the person behind Berkshire Hathaway and the history behind many of his trades but there is no real juicy investment tips out there. I would suggest picking up a copy for yourself or anyone you might know interested in finance and the "big boys."
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
If you walk up to the top of a snow mountain, make a snowball and roll it down the steep slope it will gather momentum as it speeds down the hill with no more effort from the creator of the ball. That sums up Buffett's life. When the US stock market as measured by its major index went from about 600 to 14,000 during the decades Buffett was investing, all he had to do was to buy a handful of good companies with a moat (a company holding a franchise similar to a monopoly) at a bargain price and then sit on an easy chair measuring its appreciation.

Buffett emphasizes that he won the ovarian lottery: a chance to be born in America at a time there is so much opportunity to a family with means (access to capital) and learned values to instill in their children. On top of that he was accidentally bumped into working with the greatest stock investor Benjamin Graham. Further he found a partner Munger who Benjamin Franklin would have created as the ideal American had he the power to do so. Now such a series of coincidence happening to many people who were born to this world is even higher than getting struck by a series of lighting during every thunderstorm.

I could not put this 900-odd-page book down, and was puzzled as to how a few others who were born under similar conditions could not achieve the same feat (for that matter still not achieving the same feat). Buffett has an answer to that quoting Bertrand Russell: many people would rather die than think. I would say many people would rather die than read too. This book is a must read for all young people who want to make a life in the world of investment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sarah j walker
I strongly recommend the CD version over the book version for 2 reasons: (1) The book version is 976 pages - packed with a lot of miscellaneous detail. (2) The CD version is abridged and the reader, Richard McGonagle, simply carries it. McGonagle does Buffett's voice just as well as the Oracle himself and is an all-around professional reader.

This CD set will hold your attention because the reader is so good, Buffett's life story is remarkable and there are possibly 100 or so discrete lessons about life, business, the markets and professional responsibility.

However instructional and entertaining, I did not find this book inspirational. The writing itself was mediocre. Yet the CD earns 4 stars because of the high quality of the reader and the amazing and instructive life of Buffett.

What is probably hidden by the weight of the 976 page tome but evident in the abridged CD version is how this book project was organized.

This authorized biography was meant to integrate and respond to all the public information about Warren Buffett. All the famous witticisms, the well-known deals and details about the man are presented in chronological order and without further revealing Buffett's thoughts on important matters.

Over and over we are told that reputation matters more to the man than money. Many stories demonstrate the profit potential of Buffett's name, or what some might call "brand." A headline associating Buffett with a company, for example, might cause that company's stock to instantly shoot up 24%. Berkshire Hathaway (where Buffett has been chairman and CEO for decades) has often traded at a premium to book value - called the "Buffett Premium" despite never having paid a dividend.

A central lesson is that a good reputation, requiring discipline and commitment, is tremendously valuable. Buffett was always cognizant of the effects his actions could have on his reputation. He would never sacrifice reputation for expediency or short-term gains.

The more I got to know about Buffett from this biography, the more convinced I felt that he authorized this project in order to protect his reputation. As I got to the last CD, I felt fairly certain that this work was meant to set the record straight on certain matters that were covered. But I also felt that he did not open up much to the author.

Buffett may have spent a lot of time providing miscellaneous details to the author, but I don't think she had access to his mind. For that, I believe the author relied on the same quotes, speeches and annual report letters as has every other author on the man. You just don't know how he feels about anything other than from a witty quote that was already published in other sources.

One thing remains a mystery to me. I could not figure out if Buffett's public figure is deliberately and carefully constructed. We know him as having simple tastes and being homespun. He kept his home in Omaha. But starting at a fairly early stage in his long career, all his friends and associates apparently are wealthy, famous or powerful.

Descriptions of Buffett's leisure time portray exclusive venues, transport by personal jet, and playing golf or bridge with the rich and powerful. He controls many seats on the Boards of major corporations and is a consummate insider.

Finally, while there were many excellent lessons built into this biography, I did not find the work inspirational. First, I could not imagine emulating Buffett because at every age of his life, he was so far ahead of everybody else in experience and understanding of business. Second, his family life seemed neglected to the extreme. Third, other than increasing his wealth, I don't know what motivated him. To be fair, he has committed a lot of money to worthy causes much later in life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anselma pardo
This is one of the better biographies Ive had a chance to read. Warren Buffett is portrayed gereally in a pretty balanced light, and I think more of the true man comes through in the book than the image he carefully cultivates.

The book runs you through the full gamut of emotions, but continues to reinforce the central tenets of principled leadership and hard work. While Buffett is certainly a genius, and has a great natural gut feel for business and finance, he works extremely hard at his craft, and this was far more nurture than nature.

The book is a page turner, and you are able to really get a feel for the man, as opposed to the myth.

A great and inspirational read. It reminds us that even the "Gods" are human.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
elahe panahi
It's not about the money. Maybe some of our leaders (including you know who) can take some tips from Warren Buffet. This is a story with a happy beginning and happier ending.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I have spent a month reading this book and wondered after I finished whether it was worth the effort. I enjoyed the details and the gossip. I was impressed with Mr. Buffett's insights in certain situations and his strong sense of propriety. I particularly enjoyed the discussion of Solomon and Coke. However, in the case of Solomon there was really no discussion of the sale.

At the end I decided it was worth the effort because I obtained an understanding of an important man. Second I wondered if I liked or envied Mr. Buffett. He is a very unusual man who seemed to do everything to an extreme. He was a great friend but could not really deal with family. His marriage was unusual to say the least. He certainly was the most rational person I have ever encountered but after reading this I wonder if that is enough. His emotions were overwhelming toward Big Susie but not enough to share a life with her. At the end I felt sorry for him because he missed so much in life. That may be the ultimate lesson of his life. It is possible he is realizing this now.

I have some issues with the book. It is a lot of detail but short of analysis. I finished wondering what the author thought or what was the motive for so many things. The only real effort for analysis came in the last chapter. Also the book ignored in great part the changes in the world during this period. A great biography put the subject into historical context. Lastly it did not in my mind give any real description of a successful investing strategy except to focus on the cash flow, work hard and not be carried away by emotion. I would not recommend the book to those who are looking for significant investment advice.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shannon price
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
By Alice Schroeder

Leo J. Schools

The Snowball is not about the market; it is about the man. In many ways it is like panning for gold. It can be tedious and wordy in parts (the 50 page Solomon episode), but the nuggets are exciting.

Alice Schroeder does a wonderful portrayal of the richest man in the world and one of the advisors that President Elect Obama will consult to get America out of this horrible financial crisis.

The author's style soon elevates from biography to great literature because as the story evolves we do not think of Warren Buffett as the riches man in the world; we think of him as a man with great intellect and talent, but also a man with human flaws, fears, self-doubts, and insecurities. He stops being a rich man and becomes everyman.

One of the nuggets I found to be interesting was: "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful." The Boys Town scandal was quite interesting. Another nugget was learning how close a friend Bill Gates is to Warren Buffett.

I admire Warren Buffet for taking capitalism to its logical conclusion. If one truly believes in a free market, competition, free enterprise, and the strongest will rise to the top, then it follows that inherited wealth is counter productive to capitalism and a progressive society. It puts money and power into the hands of many people whose only claim to fame is that they were lucky to come out of the right womb or as Warren Buffett would say: "They won the Ovarian Lottery."

Alice Schroeder does an outstanding job describing "derivatives" in simple, concrete terms. She gives three basic examples that anyone can understand exactly what derivatives are and why they are a major factor in the financial crisis today. Any economic idiot would have a clear understanding of derivatives after reading her explanations and examples. Well, almost anyone. I still don't understand what they are but I know they are bad and were outlawed in 1929 so they would never be used again. Well never say never in politics. They came back thanks to blind faith in deregulation, a weak congress, and the support of Alan Greenspan.

Making derivatives legal again is much like putting our economy in the hands of the Mafia. No wonder we are in such a mess today.

The person I found to be as interesting and in some ways more interesting than Warren Buffett was his wife, Susie. He was the brains of the family, but she was the heart and the soul.

Her fight for civil rights, her opposition to anti-Semitism, and her support of gay rights, were all ahead of the times. Most importantly she did not just right a check or sponsor fundraisers and dinners; she was the kind of person who had a hands-on approach to helping humanity. She would bring HIV victims to her home, nurse them, and let them die with dignity and love.

Warren's basic measure of success in life is" how many people you want to have love you actually do love you." The answer for Susie's life is simple: all of them

Warren may be the richest man in the world, but the richest person in the world was his wife, Susie.

Finally, I highly recommend this book although it is long (960 pages) and tedious and repetitious in parts. Most readers will learn more about today's economic crisis but, more importanly, they will learn about human nature and a great man with many flaws. If America takes advice from Warren Buffett, then it will be on the road to economic and spiritual recovery. You can bank on it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laurie logsdon
I enjoyed the details in this lengthy biography. Other reviewers have contributed most interesting thoughts.

I just have two observations to add. First, Buffett seems to me to illustrate many of the points made by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, in which he looks at common threads in the lives of extremely successful people. Two of these particularly stand out. First, they are born in a time and place and family in which their particular gifts are likely to be rewarded. On page 817, Buffett speaks of winning the "Ovarian Lottery." "I have been very lucky. I was born in the United States in 1930 and won the lottery the day I was born. I had terrific parents, a good education, and I was wired in a way that paid off disproportionately in this particular society. If I had been born long ago or in some other country, my particular wiring would not have paid off the way it has."

Second, as Gladwell discusses in "10,000 -Hour Rule," these individuals are often obsessed from childhood in pursuing their interests. As Buffett put it, "Intensity is the price of excellence."

Second, the author's ability to clearly describe arcane financial instruments and transactions shines a light, not only on the life of Warren Buffett, but on the times in which he has operated, and particularly on factors leading up to the meltdown of recent years. It seems to me that, in the future, this work will be valuable far beyond its merit as a biography, as business and economic historians, as well as politicians, try to figure out what went wrong.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ravi pinto
When he was just a Nebraska boy, Warren Buffett got caught up reading a book called "One Thousand Ways To Make $1,000." As Alice Schroeder points out in her 2008 Buffett bio, a more apt title for the future billionaire might have been "One Thousand Ways To Make $1,000,000," even if that understates his net worth. But what if the young Buffett could have instead gotten his hands on "Snowball"?

Reading this exhaustive, engaging book, I think he would have been appreciative of the early peek at his financial life lessons which Schroeder lays out so well, if apprehensive about valuing his work over his personal relationships. I can see the boy asking himself: "Is this the kind of man I want to be?"

Avuncular but tough, able to steel himself in order to fire a Fortune 500 CEO but not to attend his wife's funeral, Buffett seems a man of contradictions if not all that interesting. Some bios are fascinating for who their subjects were or are; with "Snowball" it's more a case of what he did. Even that isn't all that special a story: Buffett didn't build a skyscraper or invent a longer-lasting light bulb. He just made a lot of money in a rather unique way.

In Schroeder, Buffett gets a better Boswell than he deserves. Sharp, witty, all-encompassing in her interest but able to focus on key items even to the point at times of amiable shrillness ("He would never, never, never forget this mistake," she writes of his first boyhood stock sale, made too soon), Schroeder fills in the details of Buffett's life with Dickensian zest.

She has a wonderful, earthy way of explaining tough financial concepts that opens up Buffett's high-flying world to the layman: "Some people called rich guys like Buffett tax-dodgers, because they had amassed their money through lightly taxed investments. But to say that Buffett invested to dodge taxes was like saying that a baby drank its bottle to fill its diapers."

Schroeder's zest for Buffett's life well exceeded my own interest, however. I suspect many others will likewise find such segues as those about Buffett's friendship with Kay Graham of the Washington Post, or his wife Susan's friendship with U2's Bono, to be strained reading after a while. At bottom, Buffett does not appear a nice man, whether its cutting off his step-granddaughters after they attended Susan's funeral or laying off Berkshire Hathaway employees after his acquisition of their business acquired millions for him with a comment that the government should do more for them.

Buffett even cut off Schroeder after this book was first published, apparently for putting his private life in too bright a glare, though her account is neither sensationalistic nor unsympathetic. One gets the sense everything in the man's life came with dollar signs attached. If "Snowball" has a serious flaw, it's from giving this attitude a pass because his politics and philanthropic interests mirror the author's own.

I should add that I read the 2008 edition. The present edition apparently has been edited some and updated, and may represent a considerable improvement, though my issues here are less with the author and more with the subject.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kathy reeves
`The Snowball' is an in-depth and comprehensive biography of Warren Buffett and made for fascinating reading throughout. This book focuses on many aspects of his life and virtually no stone is left unturned in recounting the events that have shaped him. This look at his personal relationships, interests, his business/investing philosophies and the various business deals he has been involved with over the years. It also has additional chapters that look at the credit crunch and how Buffett felt and invested during this time of great uncertainty. Whilst this doesn't try to teach you about how to invest like Buffett, a great deal can be gleaned by reading about his life and the way he investing in various businesses and stocks. This has two sections with photos of Buffett and those mentioned in the text. It also has a detailed notes section that add to the overall depth of knowledge in the book if you take a little time to read them. This is very well written and accessible and whilst it will be of more interest to those fascinated with business and investing, it will also interest those who wish to learn about this astute, independent and unique businessman. All in all this was a thoroughly enjoyable read and although very long (at over 700 pages) it will pay back your investment of time richly.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nour a rahman
When I first learned that Alice Schroeder was writing Warren Buffett's biography, I was excited. In fact, when I learned that there was a BUFFET BIOGRAPHY, period, I was thrilled. . . But Schroeder was an even better choice. Buffett knows Ms. Schroeder well, and had over the course of several years he has given her extensive interviews and unprecedented access to his records.

The result of the collaboration is the 838 page mega-book . . . The Snowball. It's an exhaustive, yet exhilarating, look at Warren's life and career. From his grandparents to his early years to his MANY business acquisitions, there is some fascinating material here. . . especially in the beginning: did you know that The Oracle of Omaha was a bona fide juvenile delinquent, stealing golf clubs from Sears every weekend?

The bottom line: This books has made a fundamental impact on both my business and buying decisions. It's both the best BUSINESS and BIOGRAPHY book I've read, all in one. Yes, it's a LARGE book, but it's highly recommended to anyone who is a fan of Buffet or investing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I was wrangling between buying this book and VS Naipaul's own authorized biography. I ended up buying both.
Anyway, here are my personal list of Good and Bad with this book:
*The exposition of important meetings and deals and lecture are great; definitely reflects an author who's an insider in the finance arena.
*The reader can feel that really the book is an `authorized' biography. You cannot get some of the facts gathered, checked, and countercheck (because the subject and involved people are old to very old).
*The tone and writing style are not hard reads
*Although it borders on idolatry on some passages, the book still presents facts and numbers when needed.
*Mr. Buffett's achievement, analysis, and composure in business cannot be `under-appraised' in any way. The book did some good and interesting expositions on this.

Now, the Bad
There are 'strange' arcs and facts that to me added unnecessary pages. These, for example, do not support any central, side, or any minor theme:
*Book has excess endnotes (bordering on absurd when your read it)--like one that explains what Powerpoint is. If you have the 20 to 30 bucks to purchase this book, you are expected to know what is Powerpoint.
*Warren Buffett's crushes and dates during grade and high school. Amazing. Even if these persons (girls) do not appear later on in the story, Ms. Schroeder appears to have rigorously researched these angles like a giggling schoolgirl interested in puppy love.
*There are more `for idiots' explanations of concepts that took pages, while paragraphs could have sufficed. Just open any in the middle part and scan for a finance concept and youll see what i mean (then perhaps also see Alan Greenspan's explanation of more complex Fed policies in his memoir for comparison).
*For some reason the latter chapters turn into overworked and somewhat annoying metaphors.
*There are also passages that border on idolatry in the second half. Short of saying that Warren is perfect, always measured in his moves, never commits a mistake.
*in the last chapter, the author manages to insert herself unnecessarily in the thread, further proof that this last chapter is also overwritten.

Bottom line though, is it worth your time and money? Yes. 3.5 stars, for being indispensible if you want to know the development of the man, his genius, and legendary traits and achievements.

I will compare to French's The World Is What It Is (being the other frequently praised authorized biography published in one year) after I finish this one.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I am a great admirer of Warren Buffet..right down to his ability to control perceptions to his economic benefit and also to serve the purpose of truth. The subtext of this book is to put out the story of his life..complete with the warts.In doing so he serves to scoop writers in the future from digging up the dirt and detracting from the message and legacy. Among his admissions: A near sociopathic twisting of truth and respectful behavior with his teachers,he's without religion, he had a penchant for stealing and black marketing in his youth, a loathing of his mother, multiple affairs and defacto polygamy, twisting others to his will and unrewarding them except in praise, defending the nepotism and cronyism of his company boards, and his sumptuous life-style has been hidden behind his "I still live in the same house in Omaha and drive the same car shtick.
These are admissions similar to those of Voltaire and Montaigne but in typical Buffet fashion they have been written for him by another. Don't get me wrong. I love the man and his philosophy but the complexities are multi-layered and the moral messages of his life are shades of gray.His dedication to charities is remarkable and at odds with his single minded extraordinary money compounding capitalist march to the sea. He's like Ben Franklin, PT Barnum, Joseph Smith,Winston Churchill and Ghandi all rolled up in one gloriously rich man.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
It gives us an insight into one of the most complex characters in american finances - both the good and the bad. The info on acquirting companies was terrific. Highlight. On weekend with Reagan, he told the President that what he was doing - spending more than he collected - would forever start the nation on a serious journey of overwhelming debt. This was 1982 and here we are in 2009 and another Republican President has certainly done a number in this area in leaving us shortlyto a horrible long term problem. Finally, you can detect Buffett's sense of humor in things as a number of his words of wisdom have proven to be correct.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kate lewis
Gandhi stated," My life is my message." Warren Buffet's life is his message.

This book is a combination of Business 101 and an biography of Buffet. At over 900 pages in length with copious footnotes and endnotes, references and cross references, this book is a page turner, but not an easy read. Like Buffet's life itself I would admonish the reader to not give up, it is worth finishing.

The book opens with a meeting of America's business elite in Sun Valley where Buffet warns in his indirect professorial fashion that the dot.com balloon is about to burst. No one listens, he is criticized. He does not care and he is right.$$$$ in his cash register.

The author Alice Schroeder a business major herself understands the intricacies of things like derivatives,selling short and credit defaults swaps and takes us through events in Buffet's life explaining these things along the way.

While Buffet is among the richest of the rich,he does not live the life of the superrich with mansions and yachts. Schroeder reveals him to us warts and all.The glory of Buffet is not his superhero status but his humanity which grows over his lifetime.

We learn of the deep scars etched into his psyche by his unbalanced vindictive mother and how his wife's unconditional love, helps him develop beyond briliance, "nerd"ness, and obscessive collector into full flower philanthropist and advisor to the political giants.

More than anything else it demonstrates that through trial and tribulations Buffet never relinquished his ethics, honor, honesty and integrity.The good guy can win.

Yet Buffet is far from perfect, ignoring his family to pursue his obscessions, often deeply selfabsorbed and wanting. This makes Buffet more intriguing not less. This book is an essential read for our times. Both to help us understand the world of finance more clearly and so we understand big winners win due to high standards and ethics.

The reason I gave it 4 stars instead of five is that in the rush to press there are obvious editing errors...not consequential but distracting and at times we are left awash in a sea of names and facts that are hard to connect. I also would have liked a few more "drama in real life moments" Buffet's exact words to his children or their exact words, etc.

This book should appeal to business people and nonbusiness people alike. There is much to learn from the professor about business and life.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
As a biography, this was good ... but it would have been better if the editor had insisted on shortening it. Buffett himself writes fairly short and to the point letters to his shareholders. I would have appreciated this book and the very interesting view of the man it portrays had the author cut this by at least 25%.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
karen candee
It's hard to put it down, what a book, what a life! Inspiring!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
carol humlie
Unlike what many have been hoping for, "The Snowball" is not a book on what and how of value investing. You won't find detailed breakdowns of the Berkshire Hathaway deals, or the motivation behind them - the deals are discussed in passing, but the focus is always on Warren Buffet himself.

The book is a chronological look at the upbringing, the early years, and his consequent rise to the status of 'Oracle of Omaha'. Alice Schroeder provides an in depth look at Warren Buffets family and his immediate circle of friends throughout his life - without a doubt, the most complete biography of Warren Buffet.

If you're looking for Warren Buffets investment philosophy, take a look at "The Warren Buffet Way" by Robert Hagstrom, but if you want to learn about the man himself, then this is your book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andrea dunlop
Put everything in VOO and leave it for life
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
One person's thrill ride is another's snorefest. Some readers find The Snowball's length and copious verbiage taxing. Too many words! Too much detail! No worries, the Cliff Notes version will be along shortly.

Like lovemaking or a fine meal, a good story shouldn't be rushed. The reader should be indulged with all the delicious detail they can savor. I'm sure there's something to be said for premature ejaculation and championship hotdog gorging, but it's probably the minority view.

I'm thankful that Alice Schroeder took her time unwinding the story of a financial legend.* I guess Schroeder could have condensed the story of Buffett's career as a horseplayer but I'm grateful she didn't. She didn't need to go into all that detail about Warren's newspaper-slinging technique, but I'm glad she did. I suppose the story of Warren's exploits as a pinball mogul went on too long for readers battling attention deficit.

When I heard that a CPA would write the authorized Buffett biography, I was skeptical. How does a CPA have the imagination for one of the century's most challenging writing assignments? Surely Buffett chose her because she's an attractive young sycophant. Schroeder made me blast my preconceptions. It proves that your day job doesn't always define you.

I'm guessing that critics of The Snowball on grounds of lengthiness are not really into Buffett. There's one book without which we might not have a Warren Buffett. It's the Buffett Bible, Security Analysis, by Benjamin Graham. At 770 pages it's a dwarf compared to The Snowball. If you have taken a whack at reading Security Analysis you appreciate Buffett's genius for understanding and applying it. You'll probably welcome a lively recounting of a monumental American story.
* OK, I know some of you aren't Buffett fans. He's overrated. You're not buying that a filthy-rich capitalist could be a good guy. Where's the dirt! Moralists are sure to fixate on Buffett's taking a mistress after his wife left him. You knew he was a rat all along, didn't you?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
SNOWBALL is first of all, the finest example of biography I have ever read and I am a longtime fan of biography.

Secondly, it should be absolutely required reading for any serious student of finance and business. It is about Warren Buffet, but it is also about stewardship and integrity, two qualities that were missing in the con men and women responsible for the recent financial bubble that has now collapsed with such catastrophic results.

SNOWBALL 900 pages may at first seem intimidating but when you start it you will find it to be a "page turner" and when you get to the end, it is all too soon.

I was amazed to discover how Buffet, who is remarkably self-disclosing and self-effacing, inherited his life-long opposition to war and militarism from his father, Howard Buffett, who was an absolutely fearless, Republican, "isolationist" (term used by FDR to discredit peace movement activists). Following in his father's footsteps, Warren Buffett was an early, vigorous opponent of the U.S. occupation of Vietnam but unlike his father, Warren Buffett has also been a longtime vigorous supporter of civil rights, and a liberal Democrat!

Reflecting his strong sense of stewardship, and utilizing his knowledge of finance, Buffett exposed what was probably the prototype of crooked TV egangelism, namely Boystown, an Omaha institution made famous by Spencer Tracy and Newt Gingrich (remember him?), which was in fact a a multi-million dollar fraud perpetrated by the Catholic church while exploiting homeless boys to whom it offered a third rate education.

Buffett has been a vigorous opponent of anti-semitism. He skillfully ended a ban on Gentiles as members of Omaha's Jewish country club, so he could then end a ban on Jewish members at Omaha's leading Gentle country club, after he himself, ironically, personally experienced the results of anti-semitic discrimination on Wall Street.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kim hall
This is an interesting business read that also gives you a look into some of the personal life of arguably the worlds greatest investor.

For a quicker and more practical investment read, I'd recommend, 'The Essential Buffett. Timeless principles for the new economy'
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
marianne belotseyenko
I won't go into how well the book is written, other reviews are good enough to explain that.

My highlights:
- As an Asian, this book was a little bit hard for me to digest given the American style of writing. I'm lucky enough to have a smartphone to check on the dictionary for some big words. But still, when you are into the book, it is fun to read.
- I suggest readers to have a brief understanding on Warren Buffett before you go into this book, so that you won't have so many new names to digest. (One should be expecting the names like Ben Graham, Kay Graham, Bill Gates, Mrs.B, never mind Charlie Munger, because there will be hundred more to remember)
- I always skipped the parts of introducing the people around him, unless the person is Ben Graham or Charlie Munger or equivalent (ok maybe like Bill Ruane too, but not all).
- For a Buffett fan like me who has read many books on him, you will be surprised with the wrong information/impressions that illustrated in those books. For an example, he had more than 10 investment partnerships (which eventually merged into 1) before Berkshire, in contrast to what I thought that was only one since day 1; also, he did not start his empire only with Bershire Hathaway, but also Blue Chips, which other books didn't tell; other books also gave me an impression that Buffett was an "extremely" down-to-earth-guy who lives with an average money spending life, in fact he wasn't, he traveled extensively for vacations and spent a substantial amount of money in his life although he had never changed his house and car.
- The best part of this book is - The Details. The author obviously has interviewed almost everyone who had spoken to Buffett for at least 1 minute in their life. If you love to know the details/dialogues/thoughts/etc of Buffett, please read this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Great story about how to build wealth but I feel it talks a little bit too much about other side characters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A great read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
samina show
Alice Schroeder, Buffett's authorized biographer, does a stellar job of revealing the man without exposing him. She covers him in detail, faults and all, without sacrificing her deep respect for him. She captures the tycoon's life from before he was born up to mid-2008, when he found himself shuffling, much to his own surprise, through stacks of undervalued bonds. Things change around Buffett, but his themes--picking extraordinary values, teaching, utter absorption in his work, and paradoxical variety of character traits--remain the same.


Like Buffett himself, the book doesn't entertain slouches. Schroeder does a fine job of idiot-proofing some of the more elaborate concepts in the book, such as derivatives, but the 800-odd page tome is rather large to swallow in a byte-sized world.

The author's style is graceful and respectful. It is alternately informative and intimate. At times, it appears as though Buffett himself wrote parts; during other chapters, Schroeder the journalist comes out, favoring facts over poetry. The stylistic fluctuations are minor, however, and they work well.

If there are flaws in the book, they have to do more with the details than the overall story. For example, the author mentions Carnegizing quite a few times before finally explaining it to the reader on page 500. It would have helped to clarify that earlier. Also, Schroeder's fine attention to detail sometimes borders on irrelevant, until you progress and realize that even the more obscure tidbits--Buffett's first wife Susie's childhood illnesses come to mind--do either provide depth to characters or bear on their future development. That's a sign of good editing, something that endures throughout the book.

The book hooks readers with an intimate portrait of Buffett in his office, then a description of Herbert Allen's exclusive high-roller event in Sun Valley, Idaho, which introduces readers not only to the caliber of Buffett's peers, but gives a glimpse into a world rarely uncovered by outsiders. After that, the book flows more or less in chronological order, from a biography of Warren's parents all the way through to mid-2008.

Financial Lessons

Schroeder doesn't teach you how to invest, but she does give readers a sweeping tour of American financial history through Mr. Buffett's life, facilitating a sharper understanding of the US investing landscape before this past year's dramatic fallout.

Warren Buffet was something of a child investing prodigy who has spent his lifetime building on his substantial natural skills. At the age of 10, he knew more about investing than the average American. He was a seasoned businessman and property owner by the age of 15. He can do his income taxes in his head.

Buffett's childhood ventures into finance, which included forays to the racetrack and his father's brokerage firm, offer an opportunity to see finance from a bright child's eyes, then from a brilliant young man's--Buffett's time at Columbia with Benjamin Graham, his forays into Wall Street, and his eventual migration away from that "abhorrent culture"--then from an ever-maturing tycoon's perspective. The aggregate result is a pleasing and insightful storyline of the discipline (finance) through the man (Buffett).

Snowball's glimpses into the world of financial moving and shaking offer pleasing insights for anyone interested in finance in general. Schroeder weaves in an array of classic quotes, including:

Debt is no good
Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful
Uncertainty is a friend of the buyer of long-term values
You pay a very high price in the stock market for a cheery consensus

In addition, Schroeder's coverage of certain significant events in American financial history offer pleasing insights to students of the overall discipline. Her play-by-play of the 1991-92 Solomon Brothers Crisis especially stands out.

The Man

Warren Buffett is brilliant, passionate, hardworking, persistent, and notoriously absorbed in his craft. Was he always like that? Snowball, in a word, says yes. But Buffett wasn't only born, he was also made, shaped by a dysfunctional mother and regimented, idealistic father, a childhood exposed to politics, markets, and voluntary parsimony, and a natural shyness that drew him not towards people, but numbers, order, and control.

Schroeder explores Buffett's key character traits while respectfully highlighting his paradoxes as well. Buffett's investment style is coldly rational, but Buffett the teacher is folksy and accessible. He won't eat anything "a three-year-old doesn't eat," but doesn't hesitate to feast at elite socialite dinners. The man's complexity ensures that readers can recognize, but not pigeonhole him. The truth is that all of his characteristics, no matter how much at odds they are with one another, are the real Warren Buffett.

Insight into America

Another facet adding value to the book is its coverage of modern American financial history. From the Depression to World War II to Vietnam to the shaky post-9/11 decade, Snowball touches upon eras in intermediate but informative depth. This makes it accessible to readers of all generations.

The book offers pleasing insights related to America's business elite. Warren Buffett, over the course of his life, was either intimately or remotely connected to a number of business tycoons, including the Annenberg family, furniture
dynamo Rose Blumkin, Washington Post chief Kay Graham, and Bill Gates and his family. Snowball maintains focus on its subject while looping in fascinating details about family members, friends, and peripheral characters.

Read It!

Even if you're not a Buffett connoisseur or even fan, Snowball is the tome to pick up for 2008. No business book has been more far-reaching, revealing, and comprehensive. This thick, entertaining masterpiece will doubtless add value to your memory banks.

(Review by Drea Knufken)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
However, without the money, Warren's life is just like ours. IRS audits, family fueds that involve, family members with cancer, bad diets and dysfunctional relatives.
Yes except for the jets, dinner parties, bridge tournaments, and friendships with the super rich, our lives are pretty much the same. I think I might have went to more Cornhusker games though.

Alice is a fantastic writer and storyteller. The book and the lessons told will stay with me for a very long time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rebecca massey
Alice Schroeder's biography of Warren Buffett, anointed as the world's richest man (but actually probably is second richest next to Bill Gates), is must reading for anyone who wants to gain an appreciation of the world of finance and, specifically, our current economic crisis. Buffett was one of the first to see the dangers of derivatives and their impact on the big banks of America and the world. The book ends in 2004 and so you won't get advice on working through the current crisis but you will get a solid understanding of how we've gotten where we are.

Schroeder, a former Wall Street analyst, does a nice job of revealing the rational side of Warren Buffett, how he thinks, and what makes him tick. As an analyst with Morgan Stanley, Schroeder was assigned to track Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway, as an analyst. She points out that Buffett is more in love with acquiring new properties and ventures than in investing himself personally in growing his vast empire through entrepreneurial leadership. The author points out that one of Buffett's early lessons was learning about compounding at age 11. Another early lesson learned from his Quaker parents was to avoid confrontation and a desire to be liked. Schroeder does a wonderful job following the development of Buffett's business knowledge, the success of his many investment partnerships, and how he overcome countless problems after acquiring Berkshire Hathaway.

Some of the lessons shared by Buffett include: Grandstanding never gets anything done;

Customer loyalty is priceless; Commitments are so sacred that they should be rare; Good managers maintain sales growth; Investment diversity is not good if it produces a low probability of drastic change; Avoid investing in complex technology; and, Allies are important so choose them carefully.

Things I have come to appreciate about Buffett after reading Snowball is that he relied a great deal on his network of friends, that Buffett is a great simplifier, that he is brilliant enough that he recorded perfect scores on both SATs, and that as a college student Buffett would read all his textbooks through before the first day of class and at exam time have almost perfect recollection of detail. The author achieved her experience in revealing how Buffett has grown from a tiny snowball to a gigantic snowball that will shake and move the world beyond his lifetime.

By Darin Manis
CEO and Founder
RJ & Makay
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
v ctor gayol
Beyond telling the story of Warren Buffett's rise to success in the investing and business world, Ms. Schroeder does a masterful job of revealing the more human side of Buffett; complete with his self-admitted frailties, shortcomings, and mistakes in both business and in life. There are many lessons to be learned from reading this book. It is also inspiring in that it reveals that anyone can achieve great things if they have an intense desire to achieve something, a willingness to work hard for it, the ability to focus, uncompromising integrity, and the determination to never give up.

One of the book's best features is the amount of detail it provides on many of Buffett's investments. From a bird's eye view (and from reading the existing histories as well as his letters to investors), you've heard that he bought Washington Post stock and that it turned into a multi-decade multi-bagger for Berkshire. Reality is a lot more complicated than that. Buffett created Kay Graham as an expert capital allocator and had hands-on (literally) involvement with the company. The same is true of GEICO. Buffett's greatest investments, therefore, have been those in which he has invested much more than just his capital.

We also learn that Buffett relied much more than previously thought on his network of friends, and encouraged them to "ride the coattails" of great investors (though not his). Whereas the American Express investment during the salad oil crisis had been explained very simplistically, here we learn that Buffett employed friends to dig up large piles of scuttlebutt and reports on the company before committing capital. And so it goes. Alice provides a very balanced, sometimes skeptical, look at Buffett's life. She's no pushover and holds her own by successfully treating her subject objectively (at least much more than I expected).

Buffett is the world's greatest simplifier: he lives by simple, crisp rules. And in the end, he notes that the purpose of life is to be loved by as many people as possible among those you want to have love you. If you take one lesson from this book, it's that there are two things that even a mountain of cash can't buy: a sterling reputation, and love.

Many anecdotes are poignant, others hilarious, and all are instructive and insightful. At various points I was laughing out loud. The world is much enriched by this history. Is it perfect? No, but neither could it be. Different readers will have different demands. Some won't care about the personal side, and wish the author had provided even more detail on the businesses and investments. But the personal side of this enigmatic personality is essential to an understanding of this puzzle of a man who has, without a doubt, the finest reputation and track record of any juggernaut businessman who ever lived.

The only problem with this 900+ page book is that, at 3.5 pounds, it's too heavy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
javier del campo
Author and Buffett confidante Alice Schroeder weighs in for the long haul in this epic-length biography of the world famous investor and uber-billionaire Warren Buffett. Despite the length, the narrative is for the most part an absorbing read. I cannot pretend to understand all of the financial machinations and at times the reader can be forgiven if his eyes glaze over.

The title derives from one Buffetism that the key to success in life is to find a really long hill and a patch of wet snow. Alice Schroder picks a very long hill but occasionally runs into some dryer patches of snow in this mammoth narrative.

Buffett was raised in a middle-American family. His mother comes off as verbally abusive with perhaps more than one loose screw. Even as a boy, Buffett was extremely enterprising, possessing a restless intellect in pursuit of money making ideas. He became a millionaire by the age of 30. He grew Berkshire Hathaway to the point where its stock trades at an incredible price due to Buffett's refusal to split the stock. Buffett is the current father of value investing, the intellectual successor to Benjamin Graham, the Oracle of Omaha, one of the planet's richest humans and the would-be savior of some of our current economic mess.

Schroder peeks behind the curtain to portray Buffett's personal life. We know if the fondness for hamburgers and Cherry Coke. Buffett was a distracted and preoccupied father, reading investment periodicals on the theme park bench while his kids frolicked at Disneyworld. His marriage to Susan weakened to the point where she moved to San Francisco and Buffett took up with Astrid Meeks. He carried on dalliances with Katharine Graham of the Washington Post but The Oracle never became The Swordsman.

Let's be clear, though. This is not a hatchet job on Buffet nor is it a Valentine. What is surprising is that the editor did not impose more restraint and concision on Schroeder. The sheer girth of the book will likely be off-putting to many would be readers, even those who are fascinated by Warren Buffett. If reading the book doesn't strengthen your investment portfolio, perhaps you can use it for bicep curls to strengthen your arm muscles.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is the life story of the greatest investor, Warren Buffett. To some readers the information may be too much, because the author goes into great details about Mr. Buffett's life. But for those who greatly admire the person, this book finally uncovers the little secrets that were unknown to many before. The author who had full access to Mr. Buffett, his family and friends, was not pressured by any deadline to finish the book, and therefore, she delivered a masterpiece.

- Mariusz Skonieczny, author of Why Are We So Clueless about the Stock Market? Learn how to invest your money, how to pick stocks, and how to make money in the stock market
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Great read and well written. Schroeder captured the story and essence of Buffett and business.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kristyn brooke
Coming from a non-economic/business background with a basic level of understanding when it comes to investing terminology and concepts, I found the book overall very satisfying and interesting. There were parts that I didn't understand and had to gleam over due to the aforementioned (particularly when it came to reinsurance and derivatives), but the overall spirit of the book touched me and certainly changed the way I will be approaching my personal financial goals and future family life.

Three things that you'll really churn over in your head after reading the book:

* How much work and "focus" it took to get Warren to where he is today. It's immediately apparent that whatever your age and whatever your financial goal, Warren was already leagues ahead of you when he was of the same age. Business was his talent and he started at a very young age (before he was 10), but he also cultivated that talent non-stop, investing huge amounts of time daily in perfecting his craft of "collecting money". It's never too late to start, but realize that Warren was not only a prodigy, but he worked incredibly hard (often at the expense of having a healthy family life) since a very young age with only the focus of getting more and more money. Everyone wants to be rich and everyone wants to be something, but how much are you willing to sacrifice and how hard are you willing to work?

* How Warren views his responsibility with money when it comes to raising a family and what will become of that money (and his companies) after his death. Famously tight-fisted (although comparatively less so as he gets older), Buffett's line of "enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing" will no doubt make you ponder about how you will raise and teach your own kids about money and how you plan to handle what happens to it after you die.

* How Warren carries a certain folksy social awkwardness and has an ever-present need to be liked. The personification of a suave, charming businessman who always wears the right thing and knows exactly what to say with a sexy sense of indifference to the thoughts of others doesn't really apply here. Not to say that he isn't authoritative on business (people certainly listen when he speaks) or that he doesn't have charisma, but you'll find yourself giggle or cringe at some of his social faux pas. There's also several "come on!" moments where his need to be liked, manifested through his avoidance of conflict and sensitivity to criticism, often come off as cowardly, but it drives in him an overall need to do business in a way that doesn't hurt people, and you feel comfort in the point that you can still be successful without cutting everyone's throat.

Definitely worth the read, although at ~ 900 pages it took me about two weeks in 2-3 hour sessions that I would always unfortunately have to cut short. It's not a page-turner, but there is enough nuggets spread throughout that you never end up wanting to peel away.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Most readers of books about famous wealthy titans seek a path to their own personal financial success. Maybe Alice Schroeder's story of a wealthy Warren Buffett can reveal how-to-do-it? Snowball delivers! But unless you are already a self-made rich person, you are likely to miss, ignore, or reject Buffett's advice. It seems too simple, too obvious. For example, Buffett counsels investment in common stocks, held over time, but not as an active investor. Avoid market timing and high fees. Just invest in a low-cost stock index fund whenever you have spare cash. Leave it alone. Let it compound. Don't borrow. Sound familiar? Sounds just like Jack Bogle of Vanguard fame. While you are investing, Buffett reminds you to invest in yourself with training and education, and only work for someone or a firm that you truly admire.

Then, for success in the business world, Buffett (and Gates) recommend "focus". "Intensity is the price of excellence". Buffett offers six principles: 1) avoid broken promises, 2) avoid burned bridges (don't show rancor, you can always tell them to go to hell later), 3) avoid confrontation, don't criticize, 4) allies are essential, 5) commitments are sacred, so should be rare, 6) grandstanding accomplishes nothing.

So there you have all the secrets for success. Readers may be a tad disappointed, but there is plenty more in Alice's tome to enjoy (960 pages including 121 pages of notes). She uses a fun and easy construction of exposition with large font, short chapters and lots of interesting examples and tales. She exhibits a brilliant power of description, not only of Buffett but also of how his family and contemporaries viewed the world of their time. She is a competent financial analyst, so you expect and she delivers cogent analysis based on documented interviews and facts. She also takes the time in her text and end-notes to explain many of the business terms and concepts Buffett employs. Some readers may find her story rambling. Be prepared to relax and enjoy her side tales. My only gripe is that she ends the book on a sour note. In the last three pages, she shifts to first person to reveal her subpoena from GeneralRe/AIG prosecutors. I'd rather end with a more pleasant picture of Warren riding off into a billionaire's sunset of foundation good works. [...]
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
arwena demonia
Amazing book that I would recommend getting the audio version. Takes you through several decades of a disciplined and genuine good investor and person.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
annika barranti klein
This book offers insights into the personal life of Warren Buffett and how his relationships with others (his mother, wife, children, Katherine Graham, Charlie Munger, Gates, et al) cultivated his world view. You see a glimpse of a man driven as much by insecurities as by greed. On the business side, the book is at its best when it describes the early search for value investments and the crisis involving Salomon Brothers in the early 90's. But the book wastes time with many tales that are all too familiar (the annual shareholder meetings, Mrs. B, computer bridge, internet bubble scoldings), and then leaves the reader wondering about such things as the addition of B shares, the irony of being an avid Pepsi drinker until he found Coke as an investment, and the insurance business underwriting of Ajit Jain.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jessica evans
In "Snowball" Schroeder has given us a masterful, almost lyrical account of the growth of a relatively ordinary and imperfect person into a living legend through his sheer dogged drive, humility, integrity, determination, wit, and yes, his way with people (and extreme intelligence and affinity for making money of course). There are many smart people in this world; hardly any have used their intelligence and skills to accomplish in their chosen occupation what Buffett has. Reading "Snowball" I felt as though I was at his side, each step of the way, through his trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows, failures and accomplishments. The personal story explains the man beautifully. Many people never face up to their own flaws and personality issues the way Buffett has, as he transforms himself over the course of his life from a driven, undemonstrative and seemingly emotionally absent, but kind boy to a caring, thoughtful, loving, and well-loved man. This is almost as much a transformation as his growth to become the wealthiest man in the world, and gives us all a role model to consider. The detailed descriptions of his early work as a news boy, to his bashful courting of his wife, to the continuing thread of his investing philosophies are wonderful, page-turning stories. Most enjoyable, Schroeder weaves a fascinating, easy to understand story of his complex investment philosopies and techniques, his beliefs about wealth creation and dissemination, and his prescient, and unfortunately ignored, warnings about the "time bombs" being created in the first years of this decade with cheap easy debt, widespread securitization, and credit default swaps. Obama would do well to seek and heed Buffett's advice in these challenging times, for here is a capitalist who uniquely combines a deep and abiding understanding of capitalistic economy while recognizing that capitalism works best when society as a whole benefits from it. If only more business and political leaders shared his views on executive compensation, Wall Street compensation practices, taxation, social welfare, and his integrity. The world is a better place with Buffett in it, and this beautifully written account opens for all to see - the right way to practice capitalism. Ms. Schroeder, thank you!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
holly kersis
This book was a good read for anyone interested in better understanding Warren Buffets investing strategy and the making of the man behind the numbers. The detail border lined on overwhelming, but you'd miss something if you skipped it. Ms. Schroeder did a great job connecting the emotional and personal aspects of Warren Buffets life to his business life.

I especially liked reading the personal element as well as his less glowing investments.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
amy booth
Way too long
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
siddhesh ambhire
This book does a wonderful job of shedding light on the real Warren Buffett. It really brings to light his human side, light and dark.

Unfortunately, the author sidetracks the reader many times by offering overly-detailed accounts of specific events related to the story of Warren Buffet. Easily 50% (and probably more) of the 700 pages could be cut out without any loss of clarity around understanding who Warren Buffett really is.

I hope this book gets vigorously edited down to remove much of the filler, as that will allow the reader to more easily get the powerful nuggets of information included within.

Seattle, WA
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
To begin, it is interesting that Warren Buffett gave Alice Schroeder such volumes of information about his life. Then it is interesting how both Alice Schroeder and Kirsten Potter convey Warren Buffett in the first person as they relate the fascinating details of his life. The whole story is very entertaining, from the first line of the first disk... all the way through to the 30th disk. I'm so glad that I took time to learn about, and from, Warren Buffett.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I read this book cover to cover. It was absolutely fantastic. This is absolutely a type of book to buy (and mark) rather than borrow from the library. It is worth keeping and serves as a nice reference too.

This is essentially Warren's official bio as he gave the author full access to all files as well as many personal interviews. He also let the author accompany him on many trips etc. It is very helpful that the author used to be a managing director at Morgan Stanley, because it allows her to understand as well as write knowledgably and clearly about many aspects of the financial world. In fact, an excellent and very clear explanation of the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis (securitization, CDO, credit default swaps etc.) was explained by the author via the Clayton Homes example (on page 732-733). In a pithy 1.5 pages, the author gives an explanation that is crisp and accessible to the layman. She is an excellent writer, the writing is easy, accessible, and fun to read, which helped immensely in getting through this nearly 800 page book.

I found the second half of the book more fascinating because it describes the culmination of many of Warren's ideas and thought processes that he realizes after decades of experience. For example, his ideas on the Ovarian Lottery (through his trip to China), the decline of the Dollar, his lessons to college students on taking care of their mind and body (genie/car example), on working for someone you admire etc.,on his reasons for donating to the Gates Foundation, his ideas on social justice and the estate tax etc.

Reading this book is also interesting in that it covers and views the some of the events/changing nature of American history/society over the pass few decades through the perspective of Warren's life.

Reading this book gave me great insight into this wonderful, unique, and complex man. I felt like I had a birds eye view throughout his whole life, which is a great pleasure and eye-opening to experience since he has had such an interesting and unique life.

Some complained of its length. I think its fine. The length is neccessary for comprehensiveness, since this is and will be the biography of record for Buffett. Writing is so clearly written the reading is painless and enjoyable! Also, for those in a hurry, you can skip over parts that are not essential (but very enjoyable to read).

Highly Highly recommend this excellent book!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
corrine frazier
Warren Buffett is one of the most important and successful people in the business world. His life is a story of success. Everyone shoud take the opportunity to have a glimpse of what made him the person he is and what made his success so huge. This book offers more then just a glimpse, it is a full view into what he is made of.

Another compelling biography!!
Imagine being in one of the most successful boy bands of all time, New Edition; Then leave the group to become one of the biggest pop stars in the world; Date some of the most world renown celebrities, such as Janet Jackson and Madonna....
Bobby Brown: The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But...
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Over the past couple of years, dozens of books have been written with Warren Buffett's name included in the title. This is one in which the author actually possesses some credentials, having a connection of sorts to Buffett. The Snowball is insightful and provides the kind of inside look at one of America's most fascinating people...I would like to have seen more real strategies about finance. I highly recommend Nobody's Fool: A Skeptic's Guide to Prosperity by Al Jacobs. Mr. Jacobs offers practical and helpful strategies that are universal to anyone interested in growing wealth.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
azita rassi
This is not only the best book on Warren Buffett (there are over 30) it is one of the best biographies I've ever read. Some reviewers are complaining about the girth of the book and the lengthy stories that are major chapters of Buffett's life. I am a huge Buffett fan and the more info and insight I can get the better! Any true Buffett fan will appreciate the detail and full examination of different times in his life.

What this book explains that "Buffett: Making of an American Capitalist" doesn't is the rational behind many Buffett investments, especially the ones early in his career. Buffett would find "cigar butts" and usually build a controlling interest. For example, he would look at companies like 21st Century Holding today (TCHC). It is a $35 million micro-cap selling at 30% of bookvalue that consists almost entirely of cash and bonds. It also has a 17% dividend. However, it will be overlook and undervalued because big investors, like Buffett today, have too much money to invest in these small companies. These stocks are where Buffett built his investment experience and he got 31% annual returns for his investment partners during the late 1950s and 1960s.

Later, with the influence of Munger, he would invest in companies with competitive advantages, but still sold at prices that gave him a significant margin of safety (American Express, Washington Post, etc.). He even started paying "fair" prices for great companies like Coca-Cola that had great growth potential.

In this book you will learn that Warren Buffett is one of the most selective investors in the world. He will not buy something unless the value is screaming at him. His discipline to spend most of his day reading a plethora of periodicals and financial reports is what made him successful early in his career. Buffett shows hard work, a good investment philosophy, and discipline pays off--big time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is a biography on Warren Buffet, and this is what I envisioned when I bought it. Inspiring quotes about his life riddle this wonderful book, and will provide me with pages and pages of great content to read over and over again.

"And the biggest thing I wanted to do was work for myself. I didn't want other people directing me. The idea of doing what I wanted to do every day was important to me" (63).

As for those people giving this one star for "bad binding" and "late delivery", this has nothing to do with the actual content. Peer reviews are very influential, and when someone sees this book as only 4 stars instead of 4.5 stars, they may look elsewhere. Please limit reviews to the CONTENT of the book. If you have a gripe with the store, email them, don't knock down this book's reputation.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I just finished listening to Alice Shroeder's incredible bio of Warren Buffett. I am baffled by those who say she didn't explain in detail Mr Buffett's investment style.... they obviously didn't read the book. I can only imagine that many are looking for "easy" secrets to making billions of dollars on Wall Street. Unfortunately for them, as Warren Buffett would say himself, they didn't win the Ovarian lottery. Of course, if you are looking to learn and improve your abilities - this book has plenty of knowledge to offer. Yes it is long - but then he's over 80 years old and Alice has written a thorough book of his life - personal and private. You will come away with an in depth understanding of the man, his principles, and his strategies. But don't expect a how to .... there is only one Warren Buffett and for good or ill he's an original. Thank you Alice Schroeder for a great read ( and in my case - a great listen). By the way the narrator for the audio version - Kirsten Potter- was terrific.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jeanne gervais
fantastic!!!!!! this was a great read. I have a lot of respect for Warren Buffett. We need more people like him in the world.
I agree with his philosophy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mohammed abbas
I was attracted to The Snowball because of 2 factors:

1) It was about Warren Buffet, the world's greatest businessman and investor.

2) The phrase "Life is like a snowball. The important thing is finding wet snow and a really long hill" at the back of the book. This phrase is worth a million dollar!

For the price of $23.10, this book is definitely worth buying. It is 838 pages long and it detailed some of the best business ideas that Warren Buffet had implemented throughout his life.

If you are looking for a good read on business biography, The Snowball is the one to go for.

Ian Cheow.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
What I liked-->First, for an 800+ page book, the author keeps a good pace. The book was entertaining throughout. Second, the author sticks to the facts. Third, the chapter on Mrs. B is wonderful. It is America at its best. Fourth, the story of what happened at Salomon Brothers is great to read, and timely. Fifth, after reading the book Mr. Buffett seems like a real human being.

What I didn't like-->The author made a decision that a step by step description of the process Mr. Buffett uses to evaluate what companies or stocks to buy was not worth including in the book. This expertise is the core of who Warren Buffett is. He chose to use it to make money instead of spending time with his family. Maybe Buffett wouldn't go into the details (his friends describe him as secretive in the book); maybe it was edited out to shorten the book; maybe it is boring or trite or obvious; maybe the author felt it was already available in Buffet's extensive commentary on the "The Intelligent Investor" and in the letters to the Berkshire shareholders. What did make it into the book are the stories of several companies whose stock prices went bad for a long time ( Buffalo newspaper, Salomon Bros,, General Re, Coke) after Buffett bought into them. But why he got into them originally instead of all the other stocks in the market, and what financial information gave him his edge to ride through the bad times, well, "Snowball" gives only hints.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
deanne fitzner
Excellent book. Well informed "insider perspective." Will look forward to reading Alice Schroeder's next book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
christina gross
I just finished reading "The Snowball" and I have to say that after 800+ pages I did not want the story to end! Alice Schroeder does an amazing job of creating both a compelling narrative and intimate portrait of Warren Buffett.
I really was not that familiar with Buffett before picking up Schroeder's book, but I had heard many times about his intelligence and integrity. I worked for a few years in a job related to the insurance industry and he was quoted often by insurance types that I ran into. That made me curious enough to pick up the book and I did not regret it after I got started.
I highly recommend "The Snowball" to anyone who is interested in business, the stock market or just a fascinating life story.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Buffet is a genius of course.
Alice Schroeder, unfortunately, treats her subject as if the National Enquirer meets the Wall Street Journal.
Have read hundreds of biographies.This one in bottom 20%.
Was very proud of myself that I could finish it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sandra newberg
I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite the 800 odd pages and minute detail. The biographer came across as extremely respectful yet at the same time with a clear point of view of this significant man. What struck me about his life are his focus, his simplicity and his values. Specifically, the way he orders his life e.g. if he adds an activity to his roster, he takes 1 thing out stood out. Besides that, the way he seeks out intelligent people to interact me and his attitudes and actions in terms of managing wealth are extremely insightful.

This book has a wealth of lessons not just in terms of managing wealth but life in general.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
minh ha
Warren Buffet has always intrigued me. This book was extremely insightful to his personal and business life. I would encourage anyone that has a business or is beginning a business to purchase the book and keep on a bookshelf. Best read that I can personally remember.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jenny reeverts
Alice Schroeder has written a classic that will be the definitive work in revealing the life and character of a very complex man. Not just for students of investment, this book is motivating and inspirational for students of life.

Most books written about Warren Buffett explain how he amassed such wealth; primarily writing about business relationships. Alice Schroeder has uncovered many personal details previously not known, which answers the "why" in many of Buffett's actions.

Although the book is extensive, it was necessary to encompass such a large scope. Alice Shroeder's writing is relaxed and communicates clearly making this book a pleasure to read.

After reading The Snowball, I am surprised to know why Buffett wants to leave one of the largest legacies in the history of mankind. I am truly inspired by his actions and am in awe of his character. He is an incredible example of a life well lived.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
garrett craig
I heard a lot of good comments before I read the book, but I managed to keep my expectations in the middle. The book started off a tad slow, but just like a snowball - the momentum kept going faster and the satisfaction kept increasing steadily throughout the book. This book will not only give you insights into his financial decision making, it will give you enough information as to "what" makes Warren Buffet tick. More importantly you will know all of the influences in life that shaped the greatest investor of our lifetimes. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and all of my questions about Warren Buffet have been answered in this insightful (and poignant) autobiography.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shelly n
I have always admired Warren Buffett. Now I admire him more. An amazing business man, and a wise and generous person. He should have run for president.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
For me the value of this was:

1) A portrit of somebody who realised he did not fit the profile for success in the corporate world and focused on what did fit his profile i.e. investing, which drew on his strengths without being hampered by his weaknesses. Inspirational.

2) The description of his time working under Graham, in combination with reading between the lines of what Graham himself wrote, allowed me to confirm to my own satisfaction that my understanding of how Graham really operated was correct. Got you, you old fox. (Graham tells you indirectly, but you have to read between the lines from the standpoint of having knowledge in that area already to pick up what he is saying, as the 'tells' are very subtle).
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
george khoury
I have just finished reading the book. It took quite some time for me to read the 837 pages. Alice has made an excellent and fascinated job and it shows that she had put lots of efforts and time.

In no doubt that Warren Buffet is a great person and with all what it means he is the best investor in the world. Knowing how he was raised, what incidents affect his life and how he built his character can be beneficial to all who read this book.

The book covers in details his entire autobiography...his childhood, his education, his marriage, his relationships with his partners and family. Alice has shown how Warren feels when he lose someone dear to him...as she said he still cannot open his late father's files as he cannot hold himself from falling in tears...

A lot of books have been written about Warren Buffet and we all know how the world admires this person. Although this book lakes technical details about how he makes his investments decisions and how he analysis financial statements before making any decision, but nevertheless Alice showed that Warren has a special talents when it comes to finance and investments.

Two things I will keep remembering about what Warren said: In order to succeed you need to have "Focus" and the most important thing is the "Love" as he said "You cannot buy love".
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
wendy phillips
The Snowball is chronologically arranged and meticulously detailed. This makes the timeline of Warren Buffett's life sequential and easy to understand how he has evolved into the world's best investor.

The author has gone through what I think is a habit most writers have - of not throwing away anything from their years of researching a topic. Each and every detail of Buffett and his multiple friends and family members, makes for 300 pages more of what should have been a 500 page book. Some of this detail is helpful to understand the main subject's life and work, but the author seems to have included every last Post-it of information she has researched while working on this book.
However, as Buffett himself has spent 'countless' hours speaking and exchanging notes with the author, the result is a all-you-wanted-to-know-about Buffett - the human being behind the aura.

One other downside of this book is the adulatory manner of describing Buffett. "Sage", "Oracle", and many other words used regularly thoughout the book makes one think the author was worshipping the subject more than doing a critical analysis of his work and a non-judgemental analysis of his life. Even though Buffett had told the author to always use the less-flattering version of his life's experiences - this advice has been promptly discarded by the author.

300 pages lesser, less adulation and less of irrelevant details would have raised my ranking to 4 stars.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
holly barfield
The chracters are well described, interesting to become acquainted with -
Katherine Graham, John Gutfreund, Charles Munger, many others. They could have come from a good novel. Buffett himself - leave aside his business career - is an amazing eccentric, e.g., his eating habits, practically limited to beef and ice cream: his choice of clothing, off the rack and ill-fitting

My quarrel with the book is the impenetrable financial dealings described in exhaustive detail without providing enlightenment - to me anyway. Not just the stock picking; the enormous energy and discipline; these are understandable. It is the corporate structuring - companies within companies - that made me dizzy. It would require an additional small treatise to explain them to my satisfaction. (Apparently at one point they were a bit of a mystery to the SEC.)

Still, the basic investment philosophy, rooted in his early studies with Benjamin Graham, can be studied with benefit by any investor. One tenet is "don't lose money" This is definitely not just a truism.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
niloofar sh
Snowball is a must read for any serious fan of Warren Buffett. However, due to its hefty size of 800 pages I do not recommend the book to casual readers interested in Buffett. They should instead turn to Lowenstein's "The Making of an American Capitalist."
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
catherine weise
Certainly Mr. Warren Buffet is a business genius - unfortunately, Ms. Alice Schroeder is at most an average biography-writer!
The book goes into details which -unless you are a student of Mr. Buffet's life- are of no interest. ( Why would the average reader care, how many houses Ms. Susie Buffet called her own, and how they were decorated?!)
It seems, that simply everything is mentioned, the (to the average reader, not to the scholar!) important and the unimportant.

This is reflected in the book's sheer size: 900 pages, nearly three inches thick and very heavy does not make for easy reading.

As Mr. Buffet and his life certainly are worth to be known, one can only hope that sooner or later a good biography of him will be written by someone how can write biographies.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
val jones
I'm devouring this enormous book so fast that I'm getting a "Snowball Headache" LOL
His approach to investing is well displayed in the book and fun to watch develop over time as he moves from selling newspapers and used golf balls to become an icon in the world of finance. His life, and the colorful group of people who have been part of his story, make for a great read.
Thank you Alice Schroeder for giving us this glimpse into the man and his methods.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
eva truesdale
I can't put this book down. I love it! It is fun to read.

However, whenever buying a Kindle version you have no idea what may or may not be excluded. In most cases it is the pictures. Not that they are that important nor that clear on the Kindle anyway. But they are included in this Kindle version of Snowball. So if you are trying to decide between the versions, I find the Kindle is a great copy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
laura phelan
Alice Schroeder condenses 820 pages into the wonderfully short, intriguing paragraph:
"Warren Buffett, the not -simple man of simple tastes, now had the simple life of the man that he had always believed himself to be. He had one wife, drove one car, occupied one house that hadn't been decorated in years, ran one business, and spent more and more time with his family."

I loved the biography ( ALL 838 pages ) & would have easily given it 5 stars, if it hadn't been for the sheer PHYSICAL weight of the tome.
Not recommended for dainty wrists!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Not for those looking for a get rich quick formula. How can you encapsulate his methodology born by entireity of his amazing life, small and large lessons learned, massaged by friendships and teachers? They will be dissapointed. The secrets of his investment style are revealed, but it takes detective work and a big picture view. It is a very revealing look into his life. The younger Warren, is motivated and his list of business adventures and early life lessons on money reveal the basis of his thinking. Compounding every dollar and the value of that future dollar. The young adult/midlife Warren... is a sad look into his crumbling marriage and the distance his workaholic mindset created with his relationships with his children. Really the hardest part of the book the grind through. The modern Buffett... rockstar investor and financial Dahli Lama.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This book is a first-rate biography. Unlike other biographies about Buffett, there's plenty of insight because of his proactive cooperation. However, the book has plenty of critical aspects regarding the Oracle of Omaha. So the writer pulls a tough balancing act where most biographers fail when given such access. The book is very detailed with rigorous reporting. The author's background in journalism really comes through. The book's length is intimidating at first sight. But if anyone justifies such a tome, it's Buffett. My quibble with the book is that there are chapters that go on and on with relatively trivial matters. That's of course a judgment call. But there's too much detail on certain personal stuff that really doesn't tell much about Buffett -- material about his neuroses that would apply to almost anyone. Still, all in all, this was a terrific, revealing biography. And I remember reading an article that Buffett was genuinely upset about some aspects of the book. That confirmed that this was a first-rate job.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I feel withdrawal symptoms as I approach the last few pages of Alice Schroder's Snowball. I want more. I want to continue reading with two bookmarks, the extra one in the notes. I want more of Schroeder's combination of personal introspective into such a legendary guy and her keen command of investment analysis.

That the topic is Warren Buffet is compelling, but the magic is Schroeder's interweaving of the hidden idiosyncrasies of this man we have read so much about, with his rationale of the investments he has made. She presents the insights gained from hundreds of interviews of people who have interacted with Buffet, together with his own words, such that I feel like a close observer of his every move.

The mixture is magic; at times surprising, always informative and occasionally causing my wife to ask what I am laughing about. Schroeder has a succinct turn of phrase and a careful placement of it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
annie brock
Sadly, I must agree with those reviewers who found the book overly long and somewhat tedious. I'm a big fan of biographies (of all types) but i found this more of a dissertation than a biography. I slogged through a third of it and then started on the next third but gave up. As well researched and balanced as it is, it lacks life and cohesion and pulse and spirit. And the snowball theme left me cold (pun intended).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joel o quain
Very in depth material about Warren Buffett. Since we may very well be coming to an end of an era in the stock market, both the Greenspan book and this book are giving us a history lesson of the market and business world we have experienced. Since times have been very good in the market since 1982, and some would argue even before; there is a huge audience for this book at this time. Those who don't read it and are interested in investments will miss a great history lesson on what they have been investing in. Not to mention what could be in our future.
Much written here about Buffett is definitely true, eventhough very little is known about him, simply because the amount of detail could not be gotten without the cooperation of the whole Buffett family. You could say this book is like living the life of Warren and his family, because every detail is so laid out, you feel like you are there. In fact I found myself developing opinions, and wanted to tell this one or that one to act differently or compliment them on their life choices depending on their story, especially Warren and his wife Susie. But the most important story of the book is the story of Berkshire Hathaway, GEICO, Salomon Brothers, Long Term Capital Management, and labor strikes at the Buffalo and Washington Post papers, the annual meeting at Coca Cola. These stories show that what happened in the past is not all that different from what is happening today. I don't think I could do the book justice to try and bottom line it. All I can say is you just have to read the book and then you can decide for yourself. I thought I knew a lot, but soon found that even in this day and age, that the J.P. Morgan's and Warren Buffett are essential to the functioning of our economy. This is far from the idea I matured on, of a computer on every desktop, with the self reliance for everyone that would bring to us all. I came of age with that dream and am only a few years younger than Bill Gates. This book may well be best read by someone who is in their 20s and 30s, and hoping and dreaming of hitting it big in the business world and through their investments.
A real history lesson, don't miss it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
storm rogers johnson
I really enjoyed this book. Beyond telling the story of Warren Buffett's rise to success in the investing and business world, Ms. Schroeder does a masterful job of revealing the more human side of Buffett; complete with his self-admitted frailties, shortcomings, and mistakes in both business and in life. There are many lessons to be learned from reading this book. It is also inspiring in that it reveals that anyone can achieve great things if they have an intense desire to achieve something, a willingness to work hard for it, the ability to focus, uncompromising integrity, and the determination to never give up.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sally calentine
Amazing how the author has taken a very complex subject (the life of Warren Buffett) and made it understandable and fascinating for all of us. His principals are so simple and straightforward. Thank you Warren Buffett for sharing your life story with us at a time when many of us have little trust in wall street.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amanda sartori
Great book well written and captures the good and the bad about Warren Buffett. This book is more than just about his investment philosophy but delves into his relationships with his family, his investors and business associates and gives you a much more comprehensive picture of the man, warts and all.
He truly is an amazing individual and I am left with a sense that he is a not just and astute investor but a decent man to boot.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mamoun sinaceur
I'm fascinated by this folksy Richest Man in The World, and so I can't put the book down. Lots of background information and description of his life and business. After reading more about him as a person, I'm coming away less in awe of the man than I was.

However, I don't think the writing is all that great. At times it reads like a bland listing of life events and investments made. The author rarely offers much commentary on what she is describing. Seems like she is trying so hard to describe every day of his life that she didn't have time to make any insightful comparisions or comments.

Still, I'm fascinated by the guy and am enjoying learning more about him.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
True confessions first - the only reason I bought this book was because the author is an old friend. So I sat down to read it with some trepidation because it's so long, and I was afraid it would get really technical and I would get lost. But the book is actually very easy to read and never stays too long in one place. Schroeder's writing style is clever and entertaining and some of her analogies are just hilarious. There is quite a bit of humor in this book. And I came away sincerely admiring Warren Buffet - he's a billionaire who got there without stealing from other people, unlike the bad guys who are bringing down Wall Street today. I would recommend this book to anyone who is discouraged about the financial industry's greed and corruption. It doesn't have to be that way, and I hope Mr. Buffet will be assisting in the clean up.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Despite any flaws other readers may list, this book is essential reading for those that want to understand how wealth is created, how someone achieved great wealth and still maintained a healthy attitude as best he could.

While not being a technical roadmap to wealth, it gives you the overall feel, understanding of how one guy did it, and maybe you could too.

This has greatly helped me understand a successful investor's mindset, and now how I understand (somewhat) how his victories emerged. While not to the depth experienced investors might like, it provides an accessible gateway for the rest of us. Highly recommended, should be required reading in business schools.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bob crawshaw
very verbose but thorough and ultimately a good read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
angelo haritakis
Excellent and informative read. Likely one of the best if not the best account of the life of Warren Buffett. Aptly titled.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
linda gill
Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and others, including Warren Buffett (along with people such as Andrew Carnegie) have always fascinated me due to their amazing financial success and seeing how some can achieve so much. Not just because of their wealth, but more so how they see the same things we do, yet take it further.

So I decided to read this book. And like many people who are wealthy, sometimes perceived a bit wrong ("Just a rich Robber Baron") Buffett is alot more than the quick headlines and soundbites that pass through the news.

His ability both a a business man, and someone who is also looking to contribute more to the world, makes for a very good book that I highly recommend. In this day and age seeing his thoughts also add to understanding our current economic situtation.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anna p j
Beautifully written, this is one of my favorite books of all time. Schroeder has superb comedic phrasing that brings personalities and daily life circumstances alive.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sean sullivan
"The Snowball" a wonderful book that gives you insight into the life of the greatest investor of our time. On the one hand he is a humble, somewhat quirky individual with strong Mid-Western values, on the other he is prodigy with an incredible business mind. I previously read the other Buffet biography, "Making of an American Capitalist," which was also very good, but this book gives you a very detailed picture of Warren Buffet, the human being, who is shaped by his family and his experiences.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
maeve ann mak
Personally, I think Warren Buffett is overrated. He is an excellent personal PR machine who sings his own glories exactly the way he wants to spin them and most of the media swallows it (a little like Obama and the mainstream media during the 2008 election). He is a smart, shrewd investor unquestionably; but his recent errors are pretty unforgiveable and it's amazing that he still has the following that he has. I'm impressed that Gates' father is impressed, this says something. But this book is more for the people who soak up aspects of his personal life than for serious students of his investing concepts and the extent to which they're still applicable. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life The Intelligent Investor: The Classic Text on Value Investing
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is a long book, but full of intriguing detail and insight. Even if you're not an investor, you will understand the investing philosophy of the world's best.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mark eisner
I would recommend this book to those that have reading experience because the book is rather dry in many places and at points I was wondering if we were going to learn about how Warren (or one of his family members) wipe their noses or tie their shoe laces.

For those that persevere you will be rewarded with a solid overview of Warren's history, life and the environment he lived in. The book is filled with insight, philosophy and you will undoubtedly retain more than one key idea that you can apply to your own life and career.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sarah smith gumataotao
I was taught by my mentor that if you want advice go to the best person available for that advice. Obviously Warren Buffett cannot be on tap for one on one but this book fills that gap very well. Happy investing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
morgan sharp
Very good biography!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ellen wundersitz
Great book. Long, but worth it..
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
melissa brogan
I'm about 25% of the way through the book and I have to say I'm glad I bought it. His life has many facets that you would not expect. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it so far and even laughed out loud several times reading stories of his past. I look forward to reading it each night.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
becca webster
For those of you who have ever wondered about the man himself, or for those who simply would like some insight into what makes one of the greated financial minds work, this book is an invaluable review of his life and the significant historical companies he has been involved in. It also does a fair amount of explaining what goes on behind the scenes at the executive level and board level of America's greatest companies.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Schroeder had broad access to Buffett and managed to produce a sloppily constructed tome with few insights, while alienating the subject.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ana azevedo
This is by far the best biography available on Mr. Buffett. I sincerely recommend it to anyone looking to have a more profound understanding of Mr. Buffett and the evolution of his investment style and life, covering a time period back to his ancesters to this date.

This book is not just reserved for business/investing oriented persons, but they should be encouraged to read it further. In my opinion, anyone can apply the lessons in the book to their own reality.

In a "think it, learn it, do it" way of thinking, this book and all available info on Mr. Buffett, his mentors, transcripts,etc; covers the "learn it" part. The rest of course is up to you.

As a final remark, I think that if investing is your business, happen to read this book thorughly and have done your homework by studiying the complete version of all his annual shareholders letters and reports (even the ones of the Graham-Newman partnership, Ben Graham himself, Charles Munger's mind set, Phil Fisher's approach and several other documents about "value-growth investing"), you belong to your game and for sure, you'll be pretty close to know Mr. Buffett's way of thinking when it comes to money making and life as well; and of course, you'll end up making profits.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mark avraam
This biography traces Buffett's roots from birth to the present day. Ms. Schroeder has written in incredible detail and clarity about "the oracle of Omaha". This isn't a puff piece. You get a great feel for Warren Buffett and what actually makes him tick. These short comments don't do the book justice. A must own for any investor or anyone interested in the American dream.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tanya ellington
Excellent read if your looking for biographical information and insight on Warren Buffett. Particularly liked the comments of Warren woven into the story.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
"The Making of An American Capitalist" by Lowenstein is such a well written book that it leaves Snowball in the dust. Snowball has more information and it has its strengths (when Buffett comments on events directly) but its Lowenstein that just gets to the point of Buffett. And Lowenstein gets the reader to understand how Buffett made the business moves he made.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
When my wife saw the sagacious volume - she said - you'll never finish it...

It took me a couple of evenings - great reading. It's not just an extensive biography. The book praises by Warren Buffet's example that real business needs integrity and perseverance.

And that in the end it is not only business that counts in life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Buffett like all us humans has his faults and his positives. This book sieves through various aspects and periods of his life and shows how human the "oracle" really is. His wealth was truly raised in snowball fashion and at times it was susceptible to melting.

Of course we see him as a god now, but the picture of his walking in his home in pajamas and scheming to create a business atmosphere that he could be comfortable with is spectacular. His various follies were overcome by his ability to plow ahead. And this strength was derived from his belief that he could 1. think 2. make money. Otherwise his personal life was as frivolous as any average "Joe".
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I read a lot of these types of biographies. So, the length of this one didn't surprise me. Everything I wanted to know about Buffet, the man, was there, including how he amassed his wealth. At times it drones on and on, but this guy has worked 24/7 since he was 14 years old. Be ready to dig in, as this is a long and fascinating book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Warren Buffett has done what no other human being has done, that is, becoming the richest man in the planet starting with no cash and without a product (contrary to all other billionaires).

This book is a decent job of narrating his life, but could have been better. Readers will end with a strong knowledge of what happened on each stage of his life, but without a strong insight of his financial genius.

The author, being a female, focused more on his family, feelings and emotions, rather than his financial framework.

Thank God Buffett is very public these days and speak freely about his investment ideas, and rules of thumb. Things that are not covered in this sometimes unnecessarily long book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
honorable patches
The world's most famous investor, Warren Buffet, is a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

The Snowball: Warren Buffet and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder details Buffet's improbable rise from Midwest obscurity to the world's most successful investor.

Although his investment prowess is well known, it is less widely known that Buffet is an odd person.

Read the rest of the review at [...]
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The book has surprising insights into Warren Buffett's life. I learned a lot about cigar butts, the bathtub memory, and value investing. However, as it is a biography there is a lot of info that is just about the life of the Oracle of Omaha. I wish there was more info on how he does his analysis of companies. I, therefore, have bought another two books including "security analysis"by his mentor Ben Graham. An aperitif, but you will leave the book-nearly 1000 pages later-still hungry. A bit sketchy and superficial-you can tell that Warren went through it with a heavy handed editing brush, but a good insight into his life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
raphaella pereira
The size was quite daunting, however this book really delivers. Ms. Schroeder obviously loves narrative and she does a great job making Buffett, a man who has been written about countless times, new and exciting.

Very good read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book has held my attention from the very first page. After I purchased it I saw the author on C-SPAN's weekend book program and was truly impressed with her. Mr. Buffett is one of a kind and I look forward to completing reading this book. The author has meticulously footnoted her writing - a first class job in writing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Best Buffett bio. PERIOD
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
hile the book is a good read the Kindle edition does not support your ability toview the many footnotes until you get to the end of the book. Kindle dropped the ball on this one by not enabling the ability to do so. The first letter of my first sentence is a W. Kindle does not make provisions for me to go back and make corrections.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
seda arar
A fascinating insight into the boy that made the man. Some surprise at the antics of a young boy that went unchallenged ie the 'borrowing' from Sears. The absolute dedication and total focus of the boy and then the man to make money above all else in his early career.
Overall a great read into an internationally recognised guru of the financial world which begs the question 'why weren't others following and/or listening to him!!!'
Neil Pennell
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kaiden simpson
The "snowball effect" is a biography of Warren Buffet, written by a research analyst who used to cover Berkshire Hathaway's stock, Alice Schroeder. Warren Buffet, who has not written an autobiography, as yet, and has not endorsed any of the other biographies on him, gave unprecedented access to Alice. Alice conducted five years of extensive research and one-on-access to Buffet and people that he has come across, including his family. The book, over 830 pages, covers his adolescent years, his initial forays into business and the stock market and then his eventual transformation from a stock picker to a legend. It gives special importance to the business challenges he faced along the way with respect to GEICO, AIG, Buffalo News, Solomon and many others. In addition, the book also gave in depth look into his personality and his relationship with his wife and children.

Though confusing at some times, referring to candidates out of place and context at some occasions, the book was generally well written. In my opinion the book gave too much weight to the personal life and emotions of Warren Buffet. Constant references of him sobbing at issues of his marriage, death in family and death of friend came across as a weak person. Contrary to this, in real life Buffet seems like a logical and rational human being who does not get overly emotional at almost every other occasion. The beginning of the book was excellent, with reference to his analysis of the stock market in the days of late `90s in front of CEOs of the software companies. The book was a treasure trove of excellent advice and quotes from Warren and as usual I enjoyed his quotations, his advices and his allegories.

The book does go over his investment philosophy. However, not as much one would want. One would imagine that the 800+ page book would describe in detail his business and investment actions however it focuses more on his emotional state rather than his mental state. My interest in reading this book was to learn about how he locates these stocks and more importantly how he values the company. There were some references on how to select businesses, how to define risk, how much to invest in a company. But not enough form a model on investment strategy. I found Roger Lowenstein's book much in depth on his business deals I would that book to any friend of this tome.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
was purchased as a gift for a savy investor. The recipient reported he began reading immediately and his family didn't see him again until the next night. He thought he already knew about Warren Buffet, but the surprises kept him so intrigued he couldn't put it down until he read the last word. It pleased me that the gift was so well received and appreciated.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
becky combs
Great read overall. Highly engrossing initially but becomes a bit boring in later chapters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The book definitely satisfies my desire to know Warren Buffett the person, the business man, the philanthropist. It has ample detail which is well put together on all the subjects.

Yet, I feel the book could be cut in half. For one, I didn't care that much about reading 20 odd pages on every single character that had a role to play in or around Buffett's life. That's where I had to lose one star.

Otherwise this is a great book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
david wegley
This book does a great job of drawing a complete picture of Mr. Buffett, starting at childhood and analyzing his many relationships, family and otherwise, while leading the reader along the path of his dizzying business dealings. If you're interested in the human side of Warren Buffett and the details/motivations behind his well-crafted persona read this book. If you're interested in the technical side of his business dealings read this book. I've never read anything substantive about Mr. Buffett before, but it doesn't get any more revealing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jessica payne
An amazing read about Mr. Buffett. Well written and very interesting. Highly recommend for anyone interested in business... especially in these times of needed "value investing".
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
The record of a genius's obsession cannot but be fascinating. But it is a pity that to this scary tale has been wedded the pudding of a prose that Ms Schroder heaps on us for seven hundred pages. The pinnacle of this relentless mash is the last chapter, where Ms Schroder gives vent to her literary impulses and holds forth on the truths of life according to Alice Schroder. But not even Ms Schroder's tepid writing and amateurish journalism can overcome the thrill that comes from a glimpse of Warren Buffett's terrifying obsession. Read it knowing that it is unlikely that we will ever have another book from which to get such intimate snapshots of the life of this giant. But read it only if you can keep your pudding down.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
delara emami
Warren Buffett is a complex person. If you told him that, he would probably deny it, but he is. This book shows exactly what he went through, the amazing things that he has done, and how the seemingly average person can make it, well, huge. (I would have said big, but he is bigger than that). From a simply childhood, to the bust of Boys Town, to his teacher Ben Graham, to his change to the Democratic party. You will find it in this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I bought this book to learn about Warren Buffett the investor, but I read it to learn about Warren Buffett the man. I found his character, ethics, integrity and generosity very inspiring. I got this book to learn more about investing and I ended up learning more about life.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I feel like I know the guy now, it was a long book, but worth it. I now can brag about the fact that I know the guy. I wish though there were more narrative of deal making situations. But the book keeps its promise.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
renee bowser
Awesome book. Recommend it to everyone
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I thought the book was well written and very informative however; it left me feeling depressed and thankful for my life. It doesn't seem that Warren Buffett is really all THAT happy. He has many close friends and family but how close does he let them get? And the jab that is taken at his granddaughter is equally sad. If those children were adopted by Peter they are no longer step children but actual children. Not to mention they were an important part of Peter and Big Susie's life and that should carry some weight. The arrangement of all the women in his life is interesting to say the least. Susie appears to be a great giver but after watching the Charlie Rose interview and reading this book you realize how she manipulative she could be. To me, this book confirms two things: 1.) Money can't buy true happiness and 2.)Sometimes it is better to have an average IQ and be able to get one's own self dressed and to work.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is an excellent book into the life of Warren Buffett. I thought it was well written and liked the year by year account of this extraordinary investor. A must read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I liked this Buffett biography much better than the lowenstein version because in this one the author states that Buffett said she should show the 'unflattering' view of him...well there are some good tidbits in this book such as Buffett getting C's and D's in Junior High, being a voracious shoplifter of Sear's sporting goods...Eddie Lambert should send him a bill plus interest. This Buffett seems much more human and down to earth than Lowenstein's version.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
john singh
This book gives insight to debunk any myth that weathly peoples lives are any different. Warren I feel for you, you're just better than everyone at seeing how simple the abstract of making money can be and how complex human relations are, money can never buy the deep richness of a real relationship. When people are real/human, money doesn't matter.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I got this book as a Christmas gift from my daughter and smiled when I opened the gift, though I wouldn't have purchased it myself. Well, my daughter made a great pick. The man is worth reading about, the prose is good, and the emphasis is on life-long principles that would serve virtually anyone in business well. I'd give it a 4.5 if I could.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alison siegel
This is an exceptionally well written and researched biography of Warren Buffett. What makes it most interesting is how he opened up his files, associates and life to Ms. Schroeder to give this biography more creedance than any book previously written about him. This book is definately the hit of 2008 and one of the best biographies written in modern times!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
natasha kuchirka
Well written biography of a fascinating man, a page-turner. No doubt written through rose-coloured glasses but the man appears to have many more pluses than minuses. Highly recommend it !
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tom steinberg
If you are a part owner in BRK you will want to read this book to gain insight into why you would trust this man through thick and thin.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For someone that really wants to know more about Warren Buffett and how he became so successful you will want to read this book.

Although it doesn't get into his investing techniques, it does give you an overall understanding of how he got where he is today. That was the reason I purchased this book.

Awesome book, highly recommend it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
denine benedetto
Don't be put off by the length of this book - it is interesting all the way through. A well-written biography, with much info about other important people and events.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
martha kiefer
Warren Buffett is always on the cutting edge when it comes to the economic travails of this great country. Inciteful and witty, Buffett is never dull exploring an oft dull subject. He tells it like it is with no sass and back talk. God he's so fresh. Ughhhhhhh. OH GOD!

True story: I met Mister Buffett once and when I greeted him, he replied, with a gravelly bravado: "OUTTA MY WAY KID I GOTTA TAKE A BM"

The End
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
catherine smith
This is a fascinating book of the world's greatest investor from childhood to his adult life. All of the stories are intersting and informative on his development of investing style. A must read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alexandra michaelides
this was amazing!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
geralynn ross
Warren Buffett is one of the most important and successful people in the business world. His life is a story of success - not a single lucky hit but a career going from one victory to another. One would be very irrational to miss an opportunity to have a glimpse of what made him the person he is and what made his success so huge. This book offers more then just a glimpse - it is a full scale portrait of the man.
Alice Schroeder has done a marvelous job putting together this biography - it is insightful and thought-provoking. People pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for the honour of lunching with Buffett - you can get to know him (inasmuch as he was ready to reveal himself, obviously) for much less so why not give it a try?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is an excellent book. Major points: No one is perfect, TIMING is everything, and you CAN be successful in finance when applying simple, common sense.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Alice Schroeder isn't the biographer of Warren Buffet so much as she enabled him to provide us with his autobiography. After reading it I come away impressed by her writing skill and profoundly impressed by Warren Buffet. I had no preconceptions about Mr. Buffet before this book; I was simply curious how he became rich. I generally tend to be cynical, but this book has made me an un-abashed admirer of this peculiar, enormously principled businessman.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katie donahue
A frank and sometimes unflattering look at an investing genius that reminds us that we all have personal issues to deal with. Occasionally long on business detail which I suspect will interest the largest section of buyers. Kept my attention throughout. Well done.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer aiello
The author really delves into great details about Warren Buffets life leaving with you with a picture of what is was like to be him through many stages of his life! Any reader could enjoy this book as it left me completely engaged in every chapter! Definitely pick this one up!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Listening to the unabridged audio book. Amazing account of one of the most principal driven, ethical(and successful) capitalist investors in the history of the stock market.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ray clark
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. However, there has been no indication from him or those authorized to represent him that any of the material in this biography (however unflattering) is either inaccurate or unfair. Both halos and warts are included.

Others have shared their reasons for holding this book in high regard. Here are two of mine. First, although I had already read various Buffett's chairman's letters that first appeared in a series of Berkshire Hathaway's annual reports, I did not understand (nor could I have understood) the context for observations he shared, especially his comments about especially important 12-month periods throughout BRK's history. Schroeder provides the context or frame-of-reference I needed but previously lacked. For example, whereas in previous letters, Buffett merely offered brief updates on how each BRK company was doing, in 1978 he began to share his thoughts about major business topics such as performance measurement for management and why short-term earnings were a poor criterion for investment decisions. With the help of Carol Loomis, especially since 1977, his chairman's letters "had grown more personal and entertaining by the year; they amounted to crash courses in business, written in clear language that ranged from biblical quotations to references to Alice in Wonderland, and princesses kissing toads." As Schroeder explains, these gradual but significant changes of subject and tone reflect changes in Buffett's personal life as he became more reflective about business principles and more appreciative of personal relationships. His children were growing up and departing the "nest" in Omaha. His wife Susie decided to relocate to San Francisco. Meanwhile, his personal net worth continued to increase substantially. His national and then international recognition also increased. The "Oracle of Omaha" had finally become sufficiently confident of himself to reveal to others "a sense of him as a man."

I also appreciate how carefully Schroeder develops several separate but related themes that help her reader to manage the wealth of information she provides. The biography's title suggests one of these themes: the "snowball" effect that compounded interest can have. From childhood when he began to sell packs of gum (but not single sticks) and bottles of soda, and a money changer was his favorite toy, Buffett was fascinated by the way that numbers "exploded as they grew at a constant rate over time was how a small sum could be turned into a fortune. He could picture the numbers compounding as vividly as the way a snowball grew when he rolled it across the lawn. Warren began to think about it a different way. Compounding married the present to the future. If a dollar today was going to be worth ten some years from now, then in his mind the two were the same." Early in life, Buffett avoided making any purchases unless they were almost certain to generate compound interest. This theme is central to understanding Buffett's investment principles and to his own leadership of BRK. It also helps to explain why he could become physically ill when an investment cost others the funds they had entrusted to his care. Other themes include his determination to simplify his life to the extent he could (e.g. eating hamburgers and wearing threadbare sweaters, minimizing participation in family activities) so that he could concentrate almost entirely on business matters; his dependence on a series of women, beginning with his mother and two sisters (especially Doris) that continued with his first wife Susie (and their daughter "Susie Jr.") and then companion Astrid Menks whom he married in 2006; and his passion for helping others to understand the business principles to which he has been committed since childhood.

There is one other theme of special interest and importance to me: over the years, how Buffett has interacted with various associates, notably with Jerome Newman and Benjamin Graham, Sandy Gottesman, Charlie Munger, Bill Ruane, Katherine Graham, and Bill Gates. By all accounts, Buffett is a superb business associate once he agrees to become involved. He cares deeply about each relationship, does whatever may be necessary to protect and defend the best interests of his associates, and is extraordinarily generous with material rewards as well as recognition. Here is an especially revealing excerpt from Cunningham's Introduction to The Essays of Warren Buffett: "The CEOs at Berkshire's operating companies enjoy a unique position in corporate America. They are given a simple set of commands: to run the business as if (1) they are its sole owner, (2) it is the only asset they hold, and (3) they can never sell or merge it for one hundred years." These three "commands" are wholly consistent with what Lawrence explains earlier in the same Introduction: "The central theme uniting Buffett's lucid essays is that the principles of fundamental business analysis, first formulated by his teachers Ben Graham and David Dodd, should guide investment practice. Linked to that theme are management principles that define the proper role of corporate managers as the stewards of investment capital and the proper role of shareholders as the suppliers and owners of capital. Radiating from these main themes are practical and sensible lessons on the entire range of important business issues, from accounting to mergers to valuation." Those who shared Buffett's same core values of honesty and integrity, and who are also committed to the same basic principles, cherish their relationship with him.

To me, Alice Schroeder's rigorous and eloquent analysis of this theme of mutually productive and beneficial collaboration is her single greatest achievement among many in this definitive biography of one of the most important and yet least understood business leaders in recent years. Bravo!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
not an insightful book...it is surprisingly shallow the best bio is still the one written by Roger Lowenstein
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
gelu contiu
One of the best books I have read! Highly recommend for all readers; this is much more than just a book about a famous investor!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This is an excellent book, so far very interesting the first 250 pages. Warren is a remarkable man. The author di a wonderful job.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A riveting and fascinating account of Buffet's life. Gets your attention from the beginning. Revealing tidbits of the inner workings of this man.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
norberto martinez
Like many, I have studied Warren Buffett for countless hours, learning about how his simple ideas served him so well in business. I am only on page 210 of this amazing book and I will tell you that this book will change many lives for the better.

Each one of us has a story to tell, though most of us will never find an audience. Life is complicated, and there is much adversity and potential hardship along the way. In the end, there are universal truths and there are personal truths. Warren Buffett found a universal truth in business, and this allowed him to deal with the many fascinating variables of his life that involved family and other cicumstances that were personal to him.

The importance of having success in your career cannot be overstated. We all have to deal with many emotions through life, and if you enjoy your daily routine you will have a much greater chance of being able to put a positive twist on the numerous other areas, which can so easily spin out of control into results that lead to an unhappy life.

Amazing read, and I would actually pay those who are close to me to read it. I saw myself in many ways, and I have a feeling that a lot of people will see bits and pieces of themselves. This is a groundbreaker.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katelyn smith
I really liked this book. If you don't really care about business, you'll like it. If you really care about business, You'll love it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I did not read this book - I listened to it on CDs. I thoroughly enjoyed the history and the details into Mr. Buffet, an American icon.

If you like history or biographies of famous people and have a long drive to take - get this book on tape!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
david chotin
Some good reviews in place already - really just adding my rating. Remarkably entertaining reading if you enjoy money, investing and the story about the legend himself. great job to the author. Found this very inspiring and educational from an investing point of view as well.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
To tell the business of life it takes more than just to write a book. A book that someone is trying to sell based on a story of rich man's life. I read it and I didn't like it. No lessons to be learned no advise given. There is this book that comes to my mind just as I am trying to thing of life and what Warren's words really mean...the book is called Free to Be Me and is written by Arthur Vonshtain, a true lesson about life.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
mary tasker
Since Alice Schroeder is the one writer that Buffett has given unprecedented access to explore his life, I was really excited to sit down and enjoy the journey. Unforturnately, after two nights' reading of 100+ pages, I was still trying my best to stay with Alice and her undramatic way of documenting Buffett's seemingly intereting life. The writer's uninviting writing style is a pure disappointment. Although Buffett is a genius in picking stock, he has made a mistake in picking Schroeder as his biography writer.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dina salah
Very interesting, informative and amazing to hear about this one-of-kind
man of our times.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
garron bothe
This book was amazing. even though it was a little on the long side for my taste, it was absolutely beautifully written and tells the story of one of the smartest business men in history.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
troy chertok
The box looked a little worn but I am hoping the recording is okay. Will be playing it next week so i don't know the quality at this point.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jake berry
Anyone who has read this book and observed Buffet's practice of conflict avoidance can understand his actons regarding David Sokol.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mary thigpen
If you're a Buffet fan this is very interesting. I'm about half way through it and it is somewhat captivating. Warren Buffet is NOT who I thought he was. But I'm impressed! Very good book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Couldn't put it down. An excellent story, and great insight into the life and mind of the greatest investor of all time.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
naomi gross
The book is very good and the reader excellent. So why only three stars? The abridgement is too severe. True, the book would probably take 50 hours to read in its entirety, but to boil it down to just eight hours takes too much away from the original work. On balance very good, but it could be better.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
andrew condouris
Great insight- a lot of detail about others in the Buffet circle that I found extraneous, but still worth the read.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
holly selph
Am a buffett fan.

This is a good book but I found the Roger Lowenstein book far better than this one. If you dont read snowball, you wont miss much of Buffett!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jim janknegt
book cover and the printing are good, and besides, it's really a good deal, because you don't expect another repeating 32 pages following page 814. Man, can i call it a bonus
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I believe that the authors of this book needed to do alot of research with the parties involved and the technical nature of the businesses, which shows a good deal of credibility for such a book. Most books are written with alot less research and actual fact. This is the type of book I will buy again and again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
shelby ann schultz
The book is well laid out and describes Mr. Buffett and his life style. I wish it had more of his thinking included in it . I would definitly reccomend it to be read by any one for a look at a classical way to make a fortune.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Wonderful read about an extraordinary man. Clear as day as to why he is the wealthiest man in the world.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ahe butterfield
Buffett is just such an inspiration and the book is full of tidbits on what has made him so successful and such an admirable character.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julie witham
Excellent Book for people with interrest in the Warren Buffett person and way of investing, and the financial history in America from the 1930's till present.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
laura silver
The overall book is interesting but a bit too long. Way too much space devoted to his family members. I personally was interested in learning Warren's personal qualities, and what made him become so successful. Not so much what his wife, son or dauther was doing or their lives.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
I'm only through 122 pages, but several times I have felt that Schroeder may not have had her facts straight. Then on Page 120, and also in the index, she refers to the 1948 Republican candidate for President as Thomas F. Dewey, when of course it was Thomas E. Dewey. Furthermore, in the same chapter she indicates that car tires were still rationed in 1949 which I don't believe is the case. I now have reason to doubt much of what she has written, and am surprised that Buffett would be happy with her account. If he reads and remembers things as well as she describes, he should have read the book and I would have thought he would have questioned some of Schroeder's facts. Where were Random House's proofreaders.The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
holly p
Very entertaining read -- excellent background to (quite possibly) the world's most famous and enigmatic investor.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennie mcstotts
i think this book is really thoughtful, no matter in investment or others. It really got into deeply the greatest investor's life. Also it provides a lot of his opinions about investing. I really enjoyed this book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
juan pablo caro
Hi, My Name is Chong Beng Lim. I am from Malaysia. I have just bought "The Snowball" from the Kinokuniya Bookstore on 29 September 2008. Well, I bought two of them, one I gave it to another good friend of mine.

This review is a tribute to Mr. Buffett for willing to share his secrets with the rest of the world. My great compliments to Ms. Alice Schroeder for doing such a great job. The book is really a gem, a jewel, a masterpiece! I am honoured and privileged to read it.I fervently believe that by reading this book it will instill the life values of Mr.Buffett in every readers!

I have just read about 2 chapters. The reason I am writing this review is that while I was reading this book, I kept shouting, "Gosh! Gosh!" This book is unbelievably incredible! Even two chapters, I feel like I have got my money back!

In fact, I am reading three books: Hot, Fat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman; The Snowball; The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I couldn't help but get hooked by this book as it contains a wealth of valuable advice, a profusion of Warren's Secrets and a breathtaking view of Warren's philosophy.

I have taken down a few key tips from this book:
i)honesty and rationality
ii) failures contribute to rules of success
iii)We cannot use our past experiences to determine the future
iv) The airlines and the auto industry have not contributed to the wellbeing of investors
vi)carry your own luggage
vii)respect your father (Warren hangs his father portrait at his office as a permanent feature)

There are some more as the notes are not with me now.

The kaleidoscope of photos of Buffett also gives me an instant snapshot of the life of Mr. Buffett. It was amusing and yet unbelievable when you saw Warren Buffett shaking hand with the little girl, Ariel Hsing who crushed him in a pingpong match on his 75th Birthday!

Remember, you have to pay $2.1 million to have lunch with him! You can't even learn everything from a lunch with him. Thus, I am absolutely convinced that by reading this book, you have earned more than $10 million dollars...as it enriches your mind constantly, it expands your horizons literally and finally when you have read this Snowball, you will grow from a tiny snowball to a gigantic snowball that will shake and move the world!

And, your life will never be the same!

Bon appetit!
Chong Beng Lim
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
william wherry
Buffet's life is fascinating. Too bad it's told by this author.

This book is like a college term paper with cancer. It's grown way out of control. The over use of adjectives, adverbs and analogy is exasperating. How many times can you compare something to a naked mole rat? Did the author get paid by the word?

I finished the book because of the interesting subject but this book is in need of a rewrite and a good editor.

If you've managed to get through Atlas Shrugged, you'll understand the pain involved in reading this book. You want to finish but you'll suffer for it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jammeshia burgess
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.

Armed with his father's nostrums and examples, his early business experiences (selling gum, pop, magazines, refurbished golf balls, delivering papers) and stock investment (sold too early, losing most of his potential profit), learning that he didn't like physical work (helping his father and grandfather), an early meeting with the head of Goldman Sachs (Buffett just pumped $5 billion into the firm), and knowledge from Benjamin Graham at Columbia Business School (Harvard turned him down), he went on to become the richest man in the world (had $5,000 by the time he finished high school - equivalent to $53,000 today) in a series of interesting stories within "The Snowball."

Buffett learned a number of important lessons en route to becoming the richest man in the world. 1)Commitments are so sacred that they should be rare; allies are important; grandstanding rarely gets anything done. 2)Customer loyalty is valuable (bought a gas station across from one with established clientele - never did well). 3)GEICO had a sustainable competitive model - lowest costs, protected by limiting clientele to government workers (more likely to be responsible), ability to invest funds prior to use. 4)Looking at management, ability to maintain sales growth (Charlie Munger) are important in addition to financial data emphasis (Benjamin Graham). (This was an important change because the number of statistical bargains had shrunk to virtually nil and tended to be small companies which did not work when large sums of money were involved.) 5)Public often overreacted - eg. American Express hit by Kennedy Assassination + DeAngelis soybean scandal at same time = good opportunity. 6)Diversification was not a good thing, as long as investment analysis had a high probability of correctness and low probability of drastic change. 7)Corollary of #6 was ruling out investing in complex technology or human problems (eg. strike, layoffs, plant closings).
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
this was my first audio book purchase, i bought it because i drive 1 hour to work each way, so i figured I would make the best of my time. I found this so captivating that at times, when i had arrived to my destination, i would keep driving so i could hear more of the CD.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dana diaz
The seller got the book to me timely and efficiently and the description of the condition of the book was stellar.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The book arrived in the condition stated and time limited. Very pleased and will order again in the future.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
This is arguably the most patronizing, *ss kissing biography of any man (and woman) I came across. In the book, the author gasps everything minute detail of Buffett, from eating only french fries to neglecting his parental responsibility. The book impresses a dim-witted author who fawns a billionaire.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
reid griffith
The book is well done and more interesting than I expected. Of course, I am a Warren Buffett fan.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
taylor foerster
Spending time on this book will make you angry. For four days I ploughed through the book and got madder as I went along because instead of presenting the picture of Warren Buffett the legendary investor, Alice Schroeder decided to assemble all the gossip that she had gathered from Buffett's inner circle. There are many questions about Buffett's life which need to be answered: like how he managed to turn a failing textile manufacturer, two dying department stores and a stamp company into one of the world's largest insurers. What were the moves he made?

In place of the real biography of one of the world's most enigmatic businessman that people would want to read, we get a very tedious attempt to paint Buffett as a clueless husband and an almost failed father. Why would anyone care about Buffett's triangle relationship between Susan and Astrid? So he spent a lot of time with Katharine Graham, big deal. Nor does anyone really want to know that Buffett does not eat sushi, not even when it is served by Akio Morita, former head of Sony at his swanky New York apartment overlooking the Met.

The real problem is that Schroeder simply is not one of those rare insightful individuals who can penetrate into the kernel of human beings. And the problem is compounded by a painful writing style that most resembles a dog gnawing at a bone; she seems completely oblivious to the pain that her poorly constructed sentences inflicts upon readers.

The time I spent on this book is irretrievably lost, but at least I did not spend any money. I borrowed the book from my local library. If you want to delve into how unemotional Buffett is as a man then this book might be for you. My guess is that there are harpies who want to understand the oddities of a multibillionaire so that they will be prepared to pounce should the opportunity ever arise. Otherwise go find some other worthwhile thing to do with your time and money.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Simply put...the book needs an editor's pencil. There are too many twists and turns in the search for the real Warren Buffett.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Very good bio of Warren Buffett who very well may be a treasury secretary someday. This is inspiring and also loved "Running with the Rhinos" for leadership insight as well. Running with the Rhinos: Courageous Leadership for a Complex World
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I NEVER LOOKED FOR MY MOTHER And Other Regrets of a Journalist


Book review by Joseph P . Ritz

Billionaire Warren Buffett has been the subject of books and articles since the public first became aware his investments made him one of the richest men on earth.
I thought of writing a book about him when I was about to retire from one of his companies: The Buffalo News. I asked my publisher and Buffett's longtime friend Stan Lipsey, who Buffett had lured from Omaha, if the billionaire would confide in me. He checked with Buffett.
I was told that Buffett had recruited a young, attractive woman financial writer to write an exhaustive book about him and his family. He would not talk to me.
The book is The Snowball - Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, by Alice Schroeder. (Bantam Press) 960 pages, $35.
There is a reasonable wariness of a biography in which the subject has chosen the author. The book includes pages and pages of long reflections, reasoning and comments by the subject. A less restricted author could well have shortened many of the quotes in the interest of readability and clarity.
Nevertheless, the book adds depth and a large measure of understanding as to how and why Buffett became so concentrated on accumulating money and required the mothering of the several close females in his life, including Katherine Graham, owner of The Washington Post.
(After Susie, his wife of a quarter of a century, left him, she found Warren a substitute who became Buffett's mistress, housekeeper, caretaker and companion and after Susie's death, his second wife.)
Surprisingly, the book is not as fawning as I had feared. In fact, for me, the teenage Warren was dislikeable misfit, a shop lifter of golf balls and equipment from a Washington, D.C. Sears. Buffett's congressman father comes across as being out of touch with reality and the common good, so conservative that he opposed everything FDR proposed, including Social Security and later, under Truman, the Marshall Plan. Eventually, he joined the John Birch Society.
In 1973 the Omaha Sun weekly newspapers, then owned by Buffett with Lipsey as publisher, won a Pulitzer for its expose of fund raising and lack of spending by Boys Town.
At the time, Buffett wrote that the prize showed the need for more than one printing press in a community.
A decade later, he had apparently changed his view after buying The Buffalo News. Aware that 60 percent of the rival newspaper's revenues came from its Sunday edition, under Buffett, the News started its own Sunday edition, at first giving away copies knowing that its morning rival, The Buffalo Courier-Express, would eventually have to cease operation, which it did in 1982.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was on the editorial staff of the Courier during that period.
Even though it became the surviving newspaper, members of The Newspaper Guild, which represents editorial and much of the circulation departments of the newspaper, today refer to Buffett derisively as "Uncle Warren." One reason is that after accepting meager raises during the battle with the Courier, the employees expected big raises when the News became the only daily in town. They didn't get them.
In fact, the paper began drastically cutting staff, including a big chunk of the news gathering staff. When there were two papers, the Courier staffed city hall with two reporters; the News had a regular staff of four, which rose to six on important news events. Today, one reporter covers City Hall, which is near to impossible since many of the important committees meet at the same time.
The other news beats had similar cuts. Today such news staff cuts are common, as daily newspapers decline or close because advertising has gone elsewhere. But in the 1980s and early `90s the News was reporting annual profits of $50 million, on revenue of $150 million. Pretty good, especially considering that Buffett paid $35 million for the paper.
I recall a talk by Buffett before members of the news staff in the 1980s "This is not your corner drugstore. There isn't a competing drug store on the opposite corner, We're the only paper here. We're spending more than we need to on news coverage."
That was fine, if the main object was to make more money, But it meant less local news in the paper.
Relations between the reporters and management at the News became so bitter that in the late 90's, the annual Christmas party usually attended by both management and the news staff was called off.
You won't find that in Snowball. It concerns itself only with the famed and the fortunate, not at all with the employees of the companies owned or controlled by Buffett.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
brian borzym
This baby's got some major boo-boos in just the first 50 pages. (But there's more later!)

1. She claims Hoover was Coolidge's VP. Nope, twas Charles Curtis.

2. She claims some other speech, not "Cross of Gold," was William Jennings Bryan's most famous. Not even close.

3. A possible whopper. On page 17, she describes the "notoriously fumble fingered Buffett" trying to "get up" a PowerPoint slide as if it were an actual slide... Dunno if she believes that, but it halfway sounds that way.

And, as I said, that's just in the first FIFTY pages.

Biggestt of the later errors?

Page 639, Schroeder says the Taoiseach is "head of state" of Ireland.

NOPE. Try "head of government," not "head of state." And, in a parliamentary government, that's a big difference.

She also appears to take some Dust Bowl yarns as truth.


Economic ax-grinding? Claiming that going off the gold standard, specifically, Great Britain in 1930, is just an "excuse to write bad checks."

So, Ms. Goldbug, you still carry non-gold-backed Federal Reserve Notes in your wallet? Vote for Ron Paul? Etc., etc.

Also speaking of writing back checks, in the midst of this economic meltdown, you didn't "fluff" any CDOs, CDSs, etc. at Morgan Stanley, did you? Afraid of having any bonuses capped by the "bad check writing" U.S. Govt?

She later repeats the oft-retold conservative myth, or lie, that the New Deal "didn't work." Wrong. Especially before FDR got balanced-budget cold feet, he cut unemployment in half during his first term.



When we have a footnote, a DUH footnote, telling us banks were more vulnerable to robberies during the Depression because they didn't have electronic security systems, you know this baby has been over-written by at least 200 pages.

Another anal footnote? Footnoting a source for Buffett not ice-skating well as a kid because he had weak ankles. Anal.

You could surely whack half or more of the 100 pages of footnotes, leaving 150 pages out of more than 800 to easily be cut.

It's overwritten in another way.

Schroeder never claims she's trying to imitate the personality of Buffett in her writing style, as defenders of her claim here. Therefore, it's obvious she just doesn't know how to write a biography, or a hagiography.

It's like Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, ultimately. "There's no there there" in this book, other than the Chinese water torture of nearly 900 pages of draggy writing, interspersed with defensiveness of Saint Warren of Omaha.


And, that's the primary part of the "more" from the title of my review.

This is NOT a neutral biography. Interesting that Schroeder doesn't tout it as the "authorized" biography, because that's exactly what it is. So, it's not going to be neutral, despite Warren's charge to her to write the worse whenever she hears two accounts of a story. Warren knows she's already sold herself by this point, so he doesn't have to worry.

I might originally have rated this baby at two stars, but it appears Buffett-heads are little short of Obamiacs, so this baby has to get a one-stsr rating to compensate.


I will say that, ***not having read ANY Buffett bio before,*** I learned some things about him (which I surely could have learned from another bio).

His almost-intuitive "friends" approach to buying nearly cost him his a** with Salomon. He only survived that because of a reputation he'd already had. But, in her "dispassionate" or mind-numbing/quasi-hagiographic style, Schroeder never takes him to the woodshed for the dumbest "friends" decision this side of George W. Bush looking into Vlad the Impaler Putin's eyes and not seeing John McCain there.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
melissa morris
Warren Buffet's life story certainly deserved a better writer than this. I have seen better writing than this from middle school students.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

The book's presentation and bookbinding as supplied was completely unsatisfactory as the pages were unevenly put together in an uneven mess.

The content was compiled from over 1000 interviews and although interesting appeared like a documentary with little heart and soul. At times there was extensive detail about family connections without providing details of transactions involved and their intricacy. It did highlight some human frailties in Warren that is common in the life of an human being.

The return process did not allow for comment on such disastrous book binding on the book sold, that was utterly unsatisfactory and may mean I will look twice at any further purchases from the store.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
james sweeney
I don't like the book. It's too long, full of superficial insides. You will not learn nothing for your business or your investments.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
This review is to balance off the many positive reviews in the store:
(and to apply an expression from Berkshire Hathaway's brilliant Vice Chairman, Charlie Munger:
"Invert, always invert".)

point #1 on Alice Schroeder's Buffett biography:
When someone asked "what factor did people feel was the most important in getting to where they`d gotten in life" (sic), both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates answered: "focus" (p. 623)

Unfortunately, focus is missing in Schroeder's wordy, rambling 960 page biography. A quarter to a third of the content could have been pruned. This book could have used a few more months of rewriting, with more disciplined editing. Schroeder's book was at least five years in the making, yet With the world financial maelstrom upon us now, one wonders its September 2008 release is merely opportunistic publishing.

point #2: To use a Buffett expression: Schroeder is beyond her "circle of competence" . Schroeder has a finance background. When reading this book, We see can tell she does not have any past experience on writing an extensive in-depth personal biography.

In contrast, I would recommend you also read the Buffett biography written by Roger Lowenstein. Although published in 1995, it has a professional writer`s mark of clarity. Regrettably, Buffett gave Lowenstein a chilly reception after its publication. Lowenstein may have unfortunately become shut out from accessing Buffett for a subsequent revision.

In summary, Schroeder`s biography is worth reading, but you should expect to exert much patience and persistence when plowing through it. You will find nuggets in there, if you mentally block out certain sections and read between the lines.
Please Rate Warren Buffett and the Business of Life - The Snowball
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