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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here in the Third Edition are business information, insights, and counsel of incalculable and timeless value, Nov. 6 2008
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America (Paperback)
This is my review of the THIRD EDITION, dated March 18, 2013. If you wish to read my review of the SECOND EDITION, it follows.

This is the Third Edition of an ongoing process by which Warren Buffett presents a "chairman's letter" (i.e. progress report with his unique reflections) to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders at their annual meeting. Lawrence A. Cunningham edited each of the three editions, with the latest including Buffett's annual letters to Berkshire shareholders since 2008, the date of the prior edition. Other new material includes:

o The financial crisis and its continuing implications for investors, managers and society;
o The housing bubble at the bottom of that crisis
o The debt and derivatives excesses that fueled the crisis and how to deal with them
o Controlling risk and protecting reputation in corporate governance
o Berkshire's acquisition and operation of Burlington Northern Santa Fe
o The role of oversight in heavily regulated industries
o Investment possibilities today
o Weaknesses of popular option valuation models

Some other material has been rearranged to deepen the themes and lessons that the collection has always produced:

o Buffett's "owner-related business principles" are in the prologue as a separate subject
o Valuation and accounting topics are spread over four instead of two sections and reordered to sharpen their payoff.

According to Cunningham, "Those who are familiar with The Essays will notice that we have made the cover snappier than has been our custom. (Thanks for the cover design to Tim Colton, of Carolina Academic Press, which will continue to partner with me in the distribution of the book.) The main reason: the book's traditional covers could be seen well in physical form but pictures of them, shown on the internet, could not. Since most sales are done over the Internet these days, the cover needed a face-lift.

"The adage remains, however, that one should not judge a book by its cover. This book should continue to be judged on its content and organization, in which a distinctive investment and business philosophy is coherently articulated. Thanks to the many fans of the book, first published in 1997. I hope you enjoy the updated edition. And I hope to see many of you in Omaha for the Berkshire shareholders' meeting in May."

With regard to the Third Edition's subtitle, "Lessons for Corporate America," my own opinion is that almost all of the lessons can be of substantial value to leaders in any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. Among Buffett's most important and yet least appreciated talents is his ability to establish a direct and personal rapport with each person he meets or who reads any of his letters as well as any of his articles such as those included in Carol Loomis' superb book, Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012.

I watched three segments of Buffett and Loomis' appearances on The Charlie Rose Show and their informal but gracious manner made me feel as if I had been a personal friend of theirs for many years. (I wish I had purchased Berkshire stock 50 years ago!) Credit Cunningham with brilliant editing as well as his own contributions to what continues to be a "moveable feast" of information, insights, wisdom, and wit. Once again, his Introduction (all by itself) is worth much more than the cost of the book as he again discusses with rigor and eloquence what he considers to be key points about Buffett and his leadership of Berkshire Hathaway in recent years.

* * *

Review of SECOND EDITION:

Over the years, I have read several of the essays that Warren Buffett included in Berkshire Hathaway's annual reports. After reading two biographies of him (Alice Schroeder's The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life and Roger Lowenstein's Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist), I purchased a copy of this volume and began to work my way through the contents selected, arranged, and introduced by Lawrence A. Cunningham. I began with Cunningham's Introduction (all by itself, worth much more than the cost of the book) in which he reviews what he considers to be key points about Buffett and his leadership of Berkshire Hathaway.

For example, "The CEOs of Berkshire's various operating companies enjoy a unique position in corporate America. They are given a simple set of commands: to run their 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 a hundred years." With regard to investment thinking, "one must guard against what Buffett calls the `institutional imperative.' It is a pervasive force in which institutional dynamics produce resistance to change, absorption of available corporate funds, and reflexive approval of suboptimal CEO strategies by subordinates. Contrary to what is often taught in business and law schools, this powerful force often interferes with rational business decision-making. The ultimate result of the institutional imperative is a follow-the-pack mentality producing industry imitators, rather than industry leaders - what Buffett calls a lemming-like approach to business."

Cunningham organizes the essays within seven sections between Buffett's Prologue (Pages 27-28) and his Epilogue (Pages 273-282):

I Corporate Governance
II Corporate Finance and Investing
III Alternatives to Common Stock
IV Common Stock
V Mergers and Acquisitions
VI Accounting and Valuation
VII Accounting Policy and Tax Matters

As Buffett explains in his Prologue, members of Berkshire Hathaway's shareholder group receive communications directly "from the fellow you are paying to run the business. Your Chairman has a firm belief that owners are entitled to hear directly from the CEO as to what is going on and how he evaluates the business, currently and prospectively. You should demand that in a private company; you should expect no less in a public company. A once-a-year report of stewardship should not be turned over to a staff specialist or public relations consultant who is unlikely to be in a position to talk frankly on a manager-to-owner basis."

Those who share my own keen interest in Warren Buffett's leadership and management principles will learn a great deal from a careful reading of these essays. They are quite literally "from the horse's mouth." The substantial value-added benefits include the fact that Buffett thinks and writes so clearly, duly acknowledges bad decisions and personal regrets (yes, there were several), explains what he learned from them, and meanwhile reveals a playful (albeit dry) sense of humor. He also includes a number of personal observations about America, especially about its culture and economy, at various times throughout the last 25-30 years. The two aforementioned biographies indicate that throughout his life, Buffett thoroughly enjoyed each and every opportunity to increase others' understanding of sound business principles that include but are by no means limited to investments.

Readers who are not among Berkshire Hathaway's shareholders will especially appreciate the fact that, in each of these essays, Buffett establishes and then sustains a direct and personal rapport. The tone is conversational and, better yet, inclusive. He never talks down to his reader. He never "dumbs down" the material. Inevitably and appropriately, he cites Berkshire Hathaway situations when illustrating certain key points but, really, most of the material in this book will have wide and deep general interest to executives as well as to shareholders who otherwise have no association with either Buffett or his company. I highly recommend this book without hesitation or qualification.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars who better to learn investing than the richest man in the world?, Feb. 7 2010
This review is from: The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America (Paperback)
Warren Buffett's writing is sophisticated, yet eloquent that anyone that puts the effort and time to study his essays are sure to learn a lot about corporate america. Buffett's wisdom is so valuable yet many people in finance have neither read nor learned his principles that he applies. He puts his money where his mouth is. It will not guarantee that you will make billions reading his essays, but you sure will make a lot less investing mistakes. If you have a passion for finance/investing then read it, study it, and enjoy its witty, colloquial essays. Cheers, and happy investing.

(Read other books like, The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip A. Fisher, The Five Rules for Successful Stock Investing by Pat Dorsey and you sure will be ahead of the crowd)
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5.0 out of 5 stars An indispensable reference, Nov. 20 2013
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This is a fantastic collection of Warren Buffett 's writings, providing an in depth tutorial on corporate finance, management, and investing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Speedy delivery, Nov. 9 2013
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I have not yet been able to read the essays as I have been quite busy.The provider of the essays sent it in timely fashion and they came in very good condition
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5.0 out of 5 stars Here in the Third Edition are business information, insights, and counsel of incalculable value, March 27 2013
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)    (REAL NAME)   
This is the Third Edition of an ongoing process by which Warren Buffett presents a "chairman's letter" (i.e. progress report with his unique reflections) to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders at their annual meeting. Lawrence A. Cunningham edited each of the three editions, with the latest including Buffett's annual letters to Berkshire shareholders since 2008, the date of the prior edition. Other new material includes:

o The financial crisis and its continuing implications for investors, managers and society;
o The housing bubble at the bottom of that crisis
o The debt and derivatives excesses that fueled the crisis and how to deal with them
o Controlling risk and protecting reputation in corporate governance
o Berkshire's acquisition and operation of Burlington Northern Santa Fe
o The role of oversight in heavily regulated industries
o Investment possibilities today
o Weaknesses of popular option valuation models

Some other material has been rearranged to deepen the themes and lessons that the collection has always produced:

o Buffett's "owner-related business principles" are in the prologue as a separate subject
o Valuation and accounting topics are spread over four instead of two sections and reordered to sharpen their payoff.

According to Cunningham, "Those who are familiar with The Essays will notice that we have made the cover snappier than has been our custom. (Thanks for the cover design to Tim Colton, of Carolina Academic Press, which will continue to partner with me in the distribution of the book.) The main reason: the book's traditional covers could be seen well in physical form but pictures of them, shown on the internet, could not. Since most sales are done over the Internet these days, the cover needed a face-lift.

"The adage remains, however, that one should not judge a book by its cover. This book should continue to be judged on its content and organization, in which a distinctive investment and business philosophy is coherently articulated. Thanks to the many fans of the book, first published in 1997. I hope you enjoy the updated edition. And I hope to see many of you in Omaha for the Berkshire shareholders' meeting in May."

With regard to the Third Edition's subtitle, "Lessons for Corporate America," my own opinion is that almost all of the lessons can be of substantial value to leaders in any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. Among Buffett's most important and yet least appreciated talents is his ability to establish a direct and personal rapport with each person he meets or who reads any of his letters as well as any of his articles such as those included in Carol Loomis' superb book, Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012.

I watched three segments of Buffett and Loomis' appearances on The Charlie Rose Show and their informal but gracious manner made me feel as if I had been a personal friend of theirs for many years. (I wish I had purchased Berkshire stock 50 years ago!) Credit Cunningham with brilliant editing as well as his own contributions to what continues to be a "moveable feast" of information, insights, wisdom, and wit. Once again, his Introduction (all by itself) is worth much more than the cost of the book as he again discusses with rigor and eloquence what he considers to be key points about Buffett and his leadership of Berkshire Hathaway in recent years.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, Nov. 25 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America (Paperback)
Warren Buffett never disapoints, and neither have his letters to shareholders. Only Warren Buffett can explain the most difficult things in the world of high finance and make them so simple to understand. This is probably one of the top 5 books on investing I've read. If you are considering this book you should also see books by David Dreman and James Montier.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proper Business Practices, Feb. 28 2004
By 
Joe Cool "thedancingcrab" (Bronx, NY United States) - See all my reviews
"The Essays of Warren Buffett" is a textbook on proper business practice used at Cardozo Law. Yeah, I know you can go to the Berkshire Hathaway website and get all of Buffett's letters to the shareholders (in fact those who truly want to know more can do this). But this book cuts to the chase. It is edited in such a way that the essays are grouped in a logical manner. Thus, you don't have to plow through all the letters ( which at times can be boring and redundant).This makes reading rather convenient and efficient. The parts of the book that are most useful for an individual investor are the sections on "corporate governance" (in which Buffett describes what makes a good CEO and Board) and on "corporate finance and investing" ( in which Buffett argues against the Efficient Market Theory and argues for the Graham-Dodd approach). I found the essays on "accounting and valuation" and "accounting policy and tax matters" a bit tedious (though the section on stock options was rather interesting).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wit and Wisdom of Warren Buffett, March 11 2004
If you are used to reading public company annual reports, including the (usually) short letters from company presidents, you know how shallow, self-congratulatory and sometimes even misleading these reports can be. On the (extreme) other hand, Warren Buffett's annual letters in his Berkshire Hathaway annual reports represent detailed, on-target, lively and highly readable masterpieces of valuable education, information, and wit. You can read Buffett's annual letters for free at Berkshire Hathaway's website, but it will take you a while, since there are many of them (back to 1977) and they run 20+ pages each. Further, Buffett's various letters weren't intended to serve as serial chapters of a book. Better, you can shell out the cost of Lawrence Cunningham's thematically organized collection (220 pages or so)of Buffett's essays and gain a better appreciation of the numerous important topics that Buffett addresses. These topics include, first and foremost, the critical impact of the quality of corporate governance--Buffett was years ahead of most investors in focusing on this area. Other topics include corporate finance (addressed with a clarity that is both unusual and revealing of Buffett's powers of insight), mergers and acquisitions, accounting (Buffett is the only person I know who can regularly make accounting seem positively interesting), taxes, junk bonds and much more.
Moreover, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is nearly unique in its intense commitment to shareholders. The opposite (a commitment to management entrenchment and exorbitant compensation) is the norm with so many companies today that it would be easy to forget how vital shareholder primacy should be. As you read Buffett's essays you will have a model to measure other companies against--which should come in handy the next time you exercise your voting rights as a shareholder.
Life is short. As an investor or a concerned citizen-shareholder, you can learn through your own experiences, of course. There's nothing wrong with that, but the process can be long and expensive. (Depending on one's experiences, it can be very expensive.) Alternately, you can learn via Warren Buffett's lifetime of experiences distilled into a very readable, lively, fascinating collection of his essays. Buy the book-I doubt that you'll regret it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Full of Buffett Wisdom, March 30 2008
By 
B. Piché (Montréal, QC Canada) - See all my reviews
The Essays of Warren Buffett is a collection of letters written by Warren Buffett to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders and selected and edited by Lawrence Cunningham. It touches upon many topics, including corporate governance, investing and accounting.

In his letters, Warren Buffett often criticizes the practices of his fellow businessmen. Even though he references many events that are today long passed, his teachings and examples are still very applicable. For example, he notes the issues related to leveraged buyouts or zero-coupon junk bonds. By doing this, he continuously wishes to define himself as an investor and distinguish himself from the many Wall Street finance professionals he considers to be mere speculators. If you retain one lesson from this book, let it be this: Real investors believe in the long term future of a business and thus, are willing to maintain their positions (almost) indefinitely.

Lawrence Cunningham has arranged Buffett's letters in several chapters (by topic) and cleverly references the related annual report as to put them into context. Buffett's own style is concise and clear, making the essays easy to follow. The knowledge is mainly basic (except it is viewed with a slightly different perspective then most financial bestsellers) and even laymen should have no trouble understanding the issues discussed.

Overall, this is one of the best books I have gotten my hands onto. It is my duty to recommend everyone to read it because it is truly ``great''.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Abandoned his own principles in the late 1990s, Jan. 27 2004
By A Customer
Buffet is trenchant and smart but abandoned his own principles in the late 90s after run ups of KO, FRE, and other stocks he had the foresight to purchase in the 80s. He attempts to justify this in the 90s with inapt analogies, covering up his own failure to stay true to the principles he learned at the feet of Dodd and Graham. His stockholders paid, and he has since and recently recanted. Only this leaves him in the category of those investors who deserve the platinum medal of investing .... one of the all time greats.
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The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America
The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America by Warren E. Buffett (Paperback - April 14 2008)
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