Monday, 8 February 2010

Book review: The Snowball

An unhurried weekend provided enough time to finish the weighty tome that is Alice Schroeder’s biography of Warren Buffett: The Snowball. Despite its 800+ pages it was illuminating and interesting throughout. Schroeder paints a picture of an unusually sharp mind, with an ice-cold analytical approach to business, which was singularly focused on business and money-making from an early age. Yet Buffett the man is illustrated with all his human emotions and vulnerabilities, particularly when it comes to his late wife Susie. The human drama behind the deals was at times heart-breaking; no amount of money can insulate us from pain and suffering. Yet much in the book was amusing and at times hilarious, particularly describing the young Buffett.

Buffett is a man who is more than generous with his desire to teach and inform, yet one that few could emulate. Despite having followed his teacher, Benjamin Graham, Buffett admits that very few should attempt to invest their money in the way he has. For the majority he recommends a low-cost tracker fund. Oddly enough, the same advice about investing that I concluded after my six month long MBA finance course.

If you are interested in investing, business, or the life of one of the world’s richest and most thoughtful men, I'd recommend it highly. It has changed my attitudes to quite a few different types of businesses. You can't ask more than that, can you?

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