Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
By Alice Schroeder
(Bantam, Hardcover, 9780553805093, 976pp.)
Publication Date: September 29, 2008
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Here is THE book recounting the life and times of one of the most respected men in the world, Warren Buffett. The legendary Omaha investor has never written a memoir, but now he has allowed one writer, Alice Schroeder, unprecedented access to explore directly with him and with those closest to him his work, opinions, struggles, triumphs, follies, and wisdom. The result is the personally revealing and complete biography of the man known everywhere as “The Oracle of Omaha.”
Although the media track him constantly, Buffett himself has never told his full life story. His reality is private, especially by celebrity standards. Indeed, while the homespun persona that the public sees is true as far as it goes, it goes only so far. Warren Buffett is an array of paradoxes. He set out to prove that nice guys can finish first. Over the years he treated his investors as partners, acted as their steward, and championed honesty as an investor, CEO, board member, essayist, and speaker. At the same time he became the world’s richest man, all from the modest Omaha headquarters of his company Berkshire Hathaway. None of this fits the term “simple.”
When Alice Schroeder met Warren Buffett she was an insurance industry analyst and a gifted writer known for her keen perception and business acumen. Her writings on finance impressed him, and as she came to know him she realized that while much had been written on the subject of his investing style, no one had moved beyond that to explore his larger philosophy, which is bound up in a complex personality and the details of his life. Out of this came his decision to cooperate with her on the book about himself that he would never write.
Never before has Buffett spent countless hours responding to a writer’s questions, talking, giving complete access to his wife, children, friends, and business associates—opening his files, recalling his childhood. It was an act of courage, as The Snowball makes immensely clear. Being human, his own life, like most lives, has been a mix of strengths and frailties. Yet notable though his wealth may be, Buffett’s legacy will not be his ranking on the scorecard of wealth; it will be his principles and ideas that have enriched people’s lives. This book tells you why Warren Buffett is the most fascinating American success story of our time.
Author Alice Schroeder was a noted insurance industry analyst and writer who was a managing director at Morgan Stanley. She first met Warren Buffett when she published research on Berkshire Hathaway; her grasp of the subject and insight so impressed him that he offered her access to his files and to himself. Their friendship and mutual respect make her ideally positioned to write the The Snowball.
Ms. Schroeder was born in Texas, and she earned an undergraduate degree and her MBA at the University of Texas at Austin before moving east to work in finance. She is a former CPA and lives in Connecticut with her husband.
“The mandatory book to read in these treacherous times of financial crisis.…A thoughtful and intimate biography of the globe’s wisest investor.” –Forbes
“Will mesmerize anyone interested in who Mr. Buffett is or how he got that way.” The Snowball tells a fascinating story.”–New York Times
“If the replication of any great achievement first requires knowledge of how it was done, then The Snowball, the most detailed glimpse inside Warren Buffett and his world that we likely will ever get, should become a Bible for capitalists.” —Washington Post
“Anyone who has been watching events unfold in recent months–which would be everyone–can now appreciate the wisdom of Buffett....The most authoritative portrait of one of the most important American investors of our time.”–Los Angeles Times
“Even people who don't care a whit about business will be intrigued by this portrait… Schroeder, a former insurance-industry analyst, spent years interviewing Buffett, and the result is a side of the Oracle of Omaha that has rarely been seen.” —Time Magazine
"Schroeder... has a meat-and-potatoes style that matches the homespun wisdom of her subject...Now more than ever, Buffett's emphasis on fundamentals seems like genius. It's the perfect moment for a great book on an immensely inspiring capitalist."—People, four stars
“Schroeder…is well equipped to elucidate Buffett’s deals…[and] Buffett’s life abounds with good stories.”—New Yorker
“You will learn a lot about one of the nation's most compelling and important men from reading The Snowball.” —Boston Globe
“In The Snowball, novice biographer Alice Schroeder gives us one of the most detailed, candid life stories ever published…It is almost impossible to stop reading.” —Christian Science Monitor
“A penetrating and personal look at the Oracle of Omaha…An astute, and at times riveting, read–especially now.”—BusinessWeek
“Everyone knows that in a deep and liquid capital market like that of the US, it is just about impossible to beat the stock market averages over anything more than the short term. But Buffett has been ahead of the curve for most of the past 50 years, making him one of the world’s richest people. Alice Schroeder’s massive authorized biography, The Snowball, provides some clues about how he’s done it.” —Financial Times
“In this startlingly frank account of Buffett’s life, Schroeder, a former managing director at Morgan Stanley–and hand picked by Buffett to be his biographer–strips away the mystery that has long cloaked the word’s richest man to reveal a life and fortune erected around lucid and inspired business vision and unimaginable personal complexity.” —Publishers Weekly
“This massive–and highly readable–text (produced with Buffett’s full cooperation) is an unvarnished and well-paced biography that is essential for all public and academic business collections.” —Library Journal
“For students of the Oracle of Omaha, or even those looking for a little reassurance during the crisis, Schroeder's book is a fascinating study of America's most successful investor.” —New York Post
“… Alice Schroeder’s accumulation of detail, her vivid, artless descriptions of people and places, and the resulting narrative fluidity make this a compelling book. It has the bouncing vitality of an early Sinclair Lewis novel…”—Times Literary Supplement
“If you've looked at your 401(k) statement and started to fear that everyone in financial markets is either greedy, predatory or incompetent, do yourself a favor. Take $35 out of the mattress and buy a copy of Alice Schroeder's The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life. At a time like this, it's a real comfort: Buffet is living proof there's at least one wholly rational person managing money…an excellent and highly enjoyable look at the business titan.” —Houston Chronicle
“Ms. Schroeder does a good job of pulling…volunteered disclosures out of Mr. Buffett but her real contribution is her own investment expertise which enables her to make the convoluted financing schemes over the last 50 years understandable to lay readers and truly instructive to the business information junkie.” —Washington Times
“This is a fast-paced, precisely drawn profile of a man who, despite his high visibility in the financial world, isn’t someone we’ve known much about… We do now.” —Kansas City Star
“This massive—and highly readable—text (produced with Buffett’s full cooperation) is an unvarnished and well-paced biography that is essential for all public and academic business collections.”—LibraryJournal.com
"Top-notch biographies demand thorough research and crisp, finely honed writing. Schroeder exhibits both.... It's hard to imagine a more complete account of Buffett's life had he written it himself."—Buffalo News
“Riveting and encyclopedic.... The overall power of the story carries “The Snowball” forward. There is much to be learned from it.”—wsj.com
“[A] monumental biography ... Schroeder got the best access yet of any Buffett biographer ... she deals out marvelously funny and poignant stories about Buffett and the conglomerate he runs, Berkshire Hathaway.”—Forbes.com