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The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life Paperback – Oct 27 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Updtd & Condnsd ed. edition (Oct. 27 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553384619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553384611
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 885 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #14,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“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

About the Author

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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
I spent the last two weeks of 2008 engrossed in the story of this great life. Alice Schroeder presents Warren Buffet as the complex man he no doubt is, highlighting his weak points as well as his qualities. Not only is this a great biography, it is also a fascinating review of the economic events of the last 80 years. Alice Schroeder extracts from this economic history and from the comments from Warren Buffet key lessons that will serve all of us well, especially in these troubled times.

In my opinion, it is certainly clear that with a minimum of wisdom, prudence and patience we can all prosper through these challenging times by following Buffet's business practices and integrity. Business is not all that complicated when you choose colleagues and associates based on the right combination of character and skills.

Enjoy the book. It is long as this is a long and rich life. It is well written so take the time to enjoy all the stories and anecdotes. It is a perfect read to start your day. Much better than the current news...
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By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on April 5 2009
Format: Hardcover
Alice Shroeder, an up-and-coming American biographer, has done an incredibly fine job in outlining the life of Warren Buffett, one of the world's consumate financial investors. This book is loaded with all kinds of fascinating and spicy detail about how Buffett dedicated himself to the many challenges of making money with the minimum amount of risk. Shroeder, in telling Buffett's complex story, covers a number of important facets about his internal and external makeup: his nose for business opportunities; his philosophy on what makes for a secure investment; his strengths and weaknesses as a family man; his ability to handle adversity; and the monumental changes in his life that have resulted from a maturing of his attitude towards the importance of money. Having read this very significant book on an very important person in history, I make the following obervations:
a. Buffett, as one of the world's wealthiest men, rarely takes questionable risks with his money, except during this latest economic downturn, which is not covered in the book;
b. Buffett is renowned for buying companies that are near dead, reviving them, and then selling them. Shroeder includes a couple of incidents in Buffett's life where he paid the price for deviating from this practice;
c. Buffett started out as a notorious cheapskate and bottom-feeder in investment circles, and only over time and under the influence of certain women and men in his life has he developed a measure of grace, generosity, and respect;
d. Buffett, for all his billions made, is not without his regrets as to how he could have invested more wisely;
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Format: Hardcover
This the second biography on Warren Buffett that I have read, and I must say the other one was much better. This version of Buffett's life is more accurate, but it will make your eyes bleed with the details. Easily 500 pages too long, the authour takes forever to get to the point of each chapter. She rattles on about useless things like, what he ate on a certain day, what the weather was like, what he wore, and what everyone else was wearing. This is what happens when you interview a man with a photographic memory and think you have to write down every little piece of information he recalls. My advice is to read the first chapter and the last two, in the book store for free, and then buy the slightly older yet superior Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist.
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