The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

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. In a book that is dominated by unstinting descriptions of Buffett’s appetites—for profit, women (particularly nurturing maternal types), food (Buffett maintained his and his family’s weight by “dangling money”)—it is refreshing that Schroeder keeps her tone free of judgment or awe; Buffett’s plain-speaking suffuses the book and renders his public and private successes and failures wonderfully human and universal. Schroeder’s sections detailing the genesis of Buffett’s investment strategy, his early mentoring by Benjamin Graham (who imparted the memorable “cigar butt” scheme: purchasing discarded stocks and taking a final puff). Inspiring managerial advice abounds and competes with gossipy tidbits (the married Buffett’s very public relationship with Washington Post editor Katherine Graham) in this rich, surprisingly affecting biography.

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