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Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist

4.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,411 Ratings  ·  178 Reviews
Since its hardcover publication in August of 1995, Buffett has appeared on the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Newsday and Business Week bestseller lists. The incredible landmark portrait of Warren Buffett's uniquely American life is now available in paperback, revised and updated by the author.

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Paperback, 475 pages
Published August 18th 1996 by Broadway Books / Random House (first published 1995)
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The Snowball by Alice SchroederThe Intelligent Investor by Benjamin GrahamThe Essays of Warren Buffett by Warren BuffettCommon Stocks and Uncommon Profits and Other Writings by Philip A. FisherA Piece of the Action by Joe Nocera
Books Recommended by Warren Buffett
18th out of 30 books — 24 voters
Poor Charlie's Almanack by Charles T. MungerThe Warren Buffett Way by Robert G. HagstromBerkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders by Warren BuffettBuffett by Roger LowensteinThe Snowball by Alice Schroeder
Buffett & Munger Books
4th out of 7 books — 3 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 10, 2008 Robert rated it it was amazing
I recently re-read this Buffett biography (first published in 1995 and now re-issued with a new Afterword, dated January 2008) and then read Alice Schroeder's The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life. 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 ...more
Nov 13, 2011 Abhishek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone is interested in a billionaire! How he did it? Where did his ideas come from? Was he worthy of it? One ends up forming an opinion on such people very easily. Warren Buffet, unlike the Gates and the Jobs of the world, is however not that public a figure. His intelligence does not necessarily impact the common man's life so openly, and so frequently as it does for a few others. But having said that, reading about him has made me realise that not knowing about Buffet's ideologies, his ecce ...more
Steve Bradshaw
Nov 16, 2013 Steve Bradshaw rated it it was amazing
Shelves: investment
An excellent book. I almost didn't read it as I've read a few Buffet books and usually find them quite tedious. Not this one! I loved Lowenstein's perspective as a long-time investor of Buffet's and a well regarded value investor/author himself. The result is an intimate but outside look at what made Buffet into the investor and man he is today.

Buffet is a mess of seeming contradictions, his obsession with accumulating money yet his refusal to spend any of it, his remarkable self confidence yet
Josh Friedlander
Jan 03, 2015 Josh Friedlander rated it liked it
My dad bought me this book and I finally read it.

In some ways this guy is the ultimate Mr Burns-like single-minded capitalist. But to be fair to him: he's consistently fought for his income bracket to have to pay much higher taxes, repeatedly attacked Bush's tax cuts for the rich, and finally commited to giving away almost all of his money to the Gates foundation. In some ways I think he is quintessentially American, in the same sense that Citizen Kane is the quintessential American movie.
Evanston Public  Library
Reading this biography clarifies some of the traits that have contributed to Warren Buffett's astounding business success: his laser-like focus, his unusual capacity to perform math in his head, and his appreciation for true value as opposed to what I'll call "bling appeal." Insightful and meticulously researched, Lowenstein sheds light on the personality and thought process of one of the world's richest men, who started off in his in-laws' basement with little more than $800 and parlayed it int ...more
David McClendon, Sr
Book Review: Buffett
The Making of An American Capitalist
Roger Lowenstein
This book was written back in 1995, so it is severely dated. It does, however, give us an idea of what Buffett was like at that time. He may have changed since then.

I used to be able to say I liked almost everything about Buffett. I would use the word “almost” because, since I don’t know him personally, there could have been something I did not like about him. In reading this book, I found out what that was.

I am a Fundamenta
Jun 06, 2009 Matt rated it really liked it
Warren Buffett might be the most enigmatic man of our time. While everyone knows that his past half century of investing has made him into the richest man in the world, nobody seems to know much about him beyond this. The few anecdotes we sometimes hear- he still lives in the same modest house in Omaha, he doesn't drink anything stronger than coca-cola, he drives himself around in a very basic Lincoln- only pique our curiosity more.

Roger Lowenstein is well known for writing extremely engaging an
Munro Richardson
Jan 13, 2015 Munro Richardson rated it liked it
I wish I could give this 3.5 stars.

The first major biography of Warren Buffett. Written without active support by Buffett (he also didn't discourage anyone from working with Lowenstein). I felt Lowenstein's writing in When Genius Failed, the account of the failure of Long Term Capital Management, was stronger. In contrast to Snowball by Alice Schroeder, this book focused more on Buffett as the investor and major owner of Berkshire Hathaway. Charlie Munger's role and contributions are largely sid
Abinav Athreya
Apr 05, 2016 Abinav Athreya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book took a long time for me to finish probably longer than LOTR. The reason being that every financial word mentioned needed to be understood to pick the brain of the Investing genius. It is rightly termed as making of an American capitalist. The book talks in huge depths of what Buffett thought while putting every penny into someone and also tits and bits about his dynamics around personal Life.

But who needs his personal life we are trying to learn his way of investing then this is one b
Xavier Shay
Aug 24, 2015 Xavier Shay rated it really liked it
Really solid biography, though 20 years old and he's done a lot in the last 2 decades. Touch sycophantic at times, but not so bad. I didn't really know anything about him, now I do! If you're thinking about any sort of investing you should read this.

"“Never lose money” is an unyielding standard; it forecloses the option of taking any speculative risks."

"Buffett noted that the Du Ponts “might believe themselves perceptive in observing the debilitating effects of food stamps for the poor” but were
Feb 24, 2016 Fab rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book way more than I thought I would. I only decided to read it since the two main writers at the Farnam Street blog both recommended it. I would go as far to say that this is an essential read for anyone who enjoys reading about finance. Although it’s a biography, I also learned a ton about investing from this book.

I’m a huge fan of Lowenstein’s other popular finance book, When Genius Failed, so it probably wasn’t much of a surprise that I would enjoy reading this one. I find his
This was a good book, even with next to no understanding of the stock market and investing, the book held my interest. It went into detail about his childhood, college days, family life, and went through his investing and business ventures in every decade. This was interesting, especially to see how he dealt with the uniquely different economic issues that faced each decade. I enjoyed learning his investment strategy and realizing that he bought low stocks for companies that had potential. Then ...more
Aug 28, 2015 Jay rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Buffett bought his first stock at 11 years old and is now worth over 66 billion dollars. In the 50 years from 1964 to 2014, the S&P 500 (including dividends) increased an impressive 11,196%. Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway, increased....wait for it....wait....prepare yourself...ok, here we go: 1,826,163%( Buffett has done the supposedly impossible trick of beating the market consistently for a very long time.

This biography will not (and could
Clarence Hayes
Dec 30, 2013 Clarence Hayes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is adequately written and easily read.
It is not overburdened with extraneous psychology, but tells the story of Buffett's life primarily focused on what he himself focused on - the pursuit of wealth.
One might think the book hagiographic, but it appears to stick largely to verifiable facts and sources with long personal relationships with Buffett. His life appears to be as simple as it seems.
Nevertheless, Buffett is an extremely interesting character, an exaggerated exemplar of numerous
"Mhd Haikal"
May 31, 2009 "Mhd Haikal" rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Menarik nih bukunya untuk membaca kehidupan sang maestro dalam dunia investasi. Seorang milyader yang hidup dengan sederhana...
Jan 24, 2015 Asif rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed every minute of the book
Jonathan Perez
Oct 18, 2015 Jonathan Perez rated it it was amazing
I read the Snowball by A. Schroeder but wanted to see how this earlier Bio compared. Many of the details of his story are similar and dealt with in the same chronological order. Even though the Snowball gives a lot more personal almost intimate details about WB's life, there are some good different insights here too.

The value principles resurface as expected. In random order some of my takeaways are as follows. Have the purchase price so attractive that even a mediocre sale would do. Put all yo
Somasundaram Sadasivamoorthy
Where do you want to be in 5yrs, 10 yrs? This is typical question we ask ourselves over some time to streamline our goals and progress in life. But can you be believe, it's been 50years since Mr. Buffett has started guiding his crewmen in the Berkshire Hathaway. When I come across about this fact in the news few months back, I was intrigued and wanted to know more about the “Sage of Omaha" and his juggernaut Berkshire Hathaway still continuing to advance/strive forward.
This interest in me, made
Geoff Noble
Sep 06, 2014 Geoff Noble rated it really liked it
Carrying on from my interest in reading about people that I think people have romanticised and trying to find the real story about these people, I turned my attention to Warren Buffett. Anyone who has any interest in investing knows who Warren Buffett is. In fact, people seem content to quote him to back up anything when it comes to investing. I am hopefully not one of those people. There is no doubt in my mind that Warren Buffett is a smart man. I would say he enjoyed more success in his earlie ...more
Aaron Arnold
May 06, 2014 Aaron Arnold rated it really liked it
Warren Buffett is an accomplished enough guy that a full account of his career probably deserves several volumes of rather larger size, but this is a good introduction to his life, career, and general investment philosophy. While it suffers from having been published in 1995, meaning that it includes nothing on the last third of his career (though the 2008 edition contains an updated Afterword), it's useful enough to be worth picking up for anyone who's interested in his investment history, a br ...more
Jun 22, 2009 E rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Informed biography of Buffett

Bill Gates, Sam Walton and John D. Rockefeller became immensely wealthy by developing innovative businesses. Warren Buffett became rich by picking stocks better than anyone else. Forbes recently listed him as the world’s richest man, but he lives in the same Omaha house he bought for $31,500 in 1958. He drives his own car, prepares his own taxes, wears inexpensive suits and does not employ servants beyond an “every other week” housekeeper. Buffett is a simple man wi
Dec 01, 2011 Aaron rated it it was amazing
Warren Buffett has done for long-term investing what Mark Twain did for the novel - make it accessible to all and distinctly American. Lowenstein does a fantastic job of drawing a portrait of a man who, even in his teens, knew he was destined to compound wealth like no one else in history. One of Buffett’s childhood friends recalled when she asked the 12-year-old Buffett why he was always so busy working to make money, he replied “It’s not that I want money. It’s the fun of making money and watc ...more
May 08, 2008 P. rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: MBAs,
This is an uncommonly strong work about Warren Buffett, the 'Oracle of Omaha', the second richest man in the world now. Although Buffett portrays himself as an 'aw shucks', hayseed from the Midwest, he is anything but. He is a disciplined, effective, compassionate, and ethical investor, dedicated to honest and honorable dealings. This is not to say he will not strike favorable deals for his beloved Berkshire-Hathaway, but he will not cheat or defraud you or his stockholders. He will buy good com ...more
Dec 28, 2010 Riley rated it really liked it
Roger Lowenstein is my favorite business journalist and this biography of Warren Buffett is probably one of his best known works. It's a nice portrait of Buffett from someone who obviously admires him.

It is hard not to see Buffett, with his homespun ways and lack of pretension, as one of more impressive great American capitalists. But I was still struck by the fact that making money and doing good are not one and the same.

For instance, consider this statement Buffett made during the leveraged bu
Feb 26, 2016 Milan rated it it was amazing
I am kicking myself why did it take me so long to pick up Roger Lowenstein's Buffet. It was lying on my bookshelf for such a long time. I think it is the best Warren Buffett book that I've read. I found it better than Alice Schroeder’s Snowball which I read last month.

Lowenstein's book is more objective in highlighting how Buffet made his investment decisions, though Schroeder’s is more detailed and focused on his personal life. He describes all of his major investing decisions in different chap
Michal Palczewski
Jan 07, 2015 Michal Palczewski rated it it was amazing
I was glued to this book shortly after I started reading it. Buffett has lived an amazing life, starting out with a lemonade stand and finding ways to make it more profitable all the way to becoming insanely rich. All while living modestly, drinking pepsi/later coke and eating hamburgers. Buffett's investment strategy has always been to pay a good price for value and hold on to his stocks for a very long time. Lowenstein writes a very readable book that was a joy to read.
Apr 05, 2009 Elvis rated it it was amazing
A true hustler!

This book has re-awakened my value-minded economist mentality. Warren Buffet really personifies money-consciousness and frugality and, above all, perseverance! Studying a company before investing in them and being confident in your investments so that you can be immune to market movements and be able to stick to your guns rather than over-speculate. All the while, keeping life as simple as possible. Truly genius.

As someone interested in long-term value investing it only seems appr
May 04, 2015 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: investing, biography
Very well researched and well written. It explains how Buffett grew up and became Buffett, his family, his education, and his personal pursuits. It also gives details of how a number of important investments were made, the Washington Post, Soloman Brothers. One thing I would object is the comments on Greenwald, which was untrue (the books basically says Greenwald is not a value investor). Other than that, a good read.
Nov 13, 2010 Justin rated it really liked it
A damn interesting read. Buffett is a huge lefty, if you didn't know (I didn't realize it, and certainly didn't get how far left he really is) and the book is so well written, it feels like good fiction. If you're even mildly interested in Warren Buffett, read this book. His mantra, it would seem, is to never waste money, and to always maximize profit. The author does a bang up job at getting a picture of Warren across, though I'd say that it is mildly idolizing (hard not to do this when the man ...more
Alec Petro
Dec 14, 2015 Alec Petro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great story about a great investor

I enjoyed this portrayal of Warren Buffett. What I liked the most was the insight into his investment approach based on his consistent style. The stories about the Berkshire mill, the Washington Post, and Salomon Brothers were very detailed and captivating. I've always admired Warren Buffett for his accomplishments, and this book adds more color to an already colorful life.
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Roger Lowenstein has reported for the Wall Street Journal for more than a decade and is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and The New Republic. He is the author of Buffet: the Making of an American Capitalist

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“Buffett found it 'extraordinary' that academics studied such things. They studied what was measurable, rather than what was meaningful. 'As a friend [Charlie Munger] said, to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” 13 likes
“The modern spirit is a hesitant one. Spontaneity has given way to cautious legalisms, and the age of heroes has been superseded by a cult of specialization. We have no more giants; only obedient ants.” 9 likes
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