The Snowball: Warren Buffett And The Business Of Life

If you want to be great at basketball, you learn from Michael Jordan. If you want to be great at hockey, you learn from Wayne Gretzky. When you set out to excel at something it is useless to emulate people who were not the best at what they did. It was with this in mind that I decided to purchase the definitive account of Warren Buffet‘s journey from little Nebraska all the way to being the third richest man in the world. Obviously he knows something that the rest of us don’t, so I sought to find out what that was.

As turns out usually, that something was caring more. Wayne Gretzky was skating when he was two, which would really help the whole hockey thing. Much has been said about how much MJ wanted to be the best basketball player. These two were the best and the both worked harder than anybody else to get there. Warren Buffett was the same way. He had several paper routes before he hit puberty, he ran a pinball machine business and sold golf balls he found while in high school. And he always had the famous frugality he has now. He kept all the profits from his businesses and work and had accumulated $2000 back when five cents would buy a pack of gum.

Money was always very important to him, which explains why he worked so hard to become rich.

This book is very well written, and explains in-depth everything about Buffett’s life. If there is a criticism it is that it was too in-depth. I loved the explanations of his childhood and early investing years but once it got in to really nitty-gritty details of his business deals and a lot of it went right over my head. The author explains the minutia of large corporate deals very well but after a while there is only so much you can concentrate on a bond fraud at Salomon, an investment firm he bought.

I do not know if some of the talk about Buffett from before about 2010 is true, but the author does seem to deify him to some extent. She at one point said that if he committed a serious crime he would walk away free without effort. But even while obviously being a big fan of him, the author does not omit the less flattering aspects of his life that he has tried to keep on the down low, such as his unconventional marriage, what could be seen by some as less than stellar parenting, or selfishness/greed.

This book definitely opened my eyes to Warren Buffett. He was not always the loveable grandfather figure he is now. He made mistakes, some very large, both in investing and business as well as his personal life. The book does give insight into some of his investments and explains his thinking, and clearly points out the lessons he himself preaches and others that could only be learned by watching him.

If you want a very thorough exploration through the life of one of the greatest business men ever, this is the book. If you want a quick read that will help you invest like Buffett, you probably will be disappointed by any book. I am very glad I read the book, if only to know more about a man who I idolize. The book is a touch on the long side but it is probably better that it errs on the side of completeness. So I do encourage you to read this book if you are interested in Warren Buffett or want to know more about a man who does what he does better than anyone else.



The Snowball: Warren Buffett And The Business Of Life — 7 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review! It sounds interesting. I also like Warren Buffett and would not mind learning more about his strategy. Perhaps I’ll add it to my list of summer reads …

    • I wouldn’t call it an investment book but it is in that family. And you are right that Buffett is the classic to learn from. I hope you get it.

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