To many of you, Warren Buffett is not an unfamiliar figure. If you are in finance/investment, you probably not only heard of him, but study his every move. He has been a public figure for decades and people listen to him intently. Every year at his annual share holder meeting, there are literally thousands and thousands of people from all over the US, Canada, the UK and even China, Japan etc coming.
Many books have been written about him, his investment ideas/principles. Thousands, if not millions of reports/articles have been about his company Berkshire Hathaway.
In Sept 2008, the most comprehensive Warren Buffett Bio was published with the title “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life” by Alice Schroeder. Alice is a an author, columnist and former insurance analyst. By the time she started working on this book (some time in 2003) she has known Warren for over six years. It was said that Alice spent over 2000 hours researching and interviewed over 250 people in order to write this book. For more information about Alice, please refer to her homepage Alice Schroeder.
With nearly unlimited access to Buffet personally and his network of close friends/family, the Snowball helps readers to get to know Warren Buffett not only as an “Oracle of Omaha” but as a man with vivid/unflattering details. From Buffett’s ancestors, his parents, early childhood to grownups and becoming a local/national/international public figure, every little detail was laid out neatly in front of us. The bio became the instant hit, the number 1 best sellers for multiples magazines, newspapers like New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, The Financial Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, and The Washington Post etc…
Not many people know Buffett as a person well, let alone knowing his family members/associates well. Hence many of the previous books about him lack the personal details about Buffett Life. Yes, Warren always says he is a Simple man with simple taste but having said that only makes his audience more curious. He used to be richest man in the world, and has been amongst the top 3 for many years. He appears constantly on newspapers, magazines, televisions, joining many “elephant-bumping” events in the US. He has stayed/talked/dined/played golf with many US presidents.
So why i am doing this? Well i am doing this because i consider myself a fan of Buffett and The Snowball is a truly amazing book. There might be some controversies around the relationship between Alice Schroeder and Buffett after the book was published. Yet one thing is clear, Alice wrote The Snowball in a very candid tone. There seems to be no “Editorial control” from Buffett over the content of the book. Many “Buffett secrets” were dug up and portrayed clearly. After reading this book you would have answers to many questions like:
- Why Buffett succeed the way he did?
- Why Berkshire Hathaway with the market cap of more than 200 billion USD has a very basic website http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/
- Why Berkshire stock is traded at more than 120 thousands USD per share http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=BRK-A ?
- How did Buffett qualify for the finals of the world championship Bridge tournament the first time he entered?
- Why Buffett always says he won the Ovarian Lottery early in life?
- When did he have the first bank account?
- What influence Dale Carnegie had on Buffett?
- Do you want a toy fingerprinting kit when you are 6-7 years old?
- And a lot more…
I would recommend this book for everyone, not only those in finance. Because to me, it’s more about the life of one of the greatest men of the 20th – 21st century rather than the life of a typical financier. Buffett has a strong inner score card and it’s served him well over the years. His conviction to stick to his “circle of competence” is truly amazing.
I ‘ve learned many life lessons reading his bio and I hope you will too.