James's Reviews > The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

The Snowball by Alice Schroeder
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M_50x66
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Jan 23, 09

Read in January, 2008

I think Buffett is a titan of our time, and that his story is inpirational. He is a good and righteous man, a money-changer who doesn't ever get thrown out of the temple. He's got a great sense of business, but he's also a great man. His support for the Berkshire textiles, less profitable, but of social good, hearkens back to an owner-worker relationship that existed in the 1950's, if it ever existed at all. He's got lots of quirks, a sex life that perplexes everyone, and the largest charitable record in history.

The book was lacking in good business advice, and that which it does have it spills in the second of many many chapters. I didn't read it for that, but rather to see what path this man had followed. It does give a very clear accounting of his life. In fact, it reads like a very long newspaper article about him and his doings. Actually, more like a journal article, because no explanation is given to help the laity understand the Oracle's sometimes byzantine transactions.

The weakness of this biography is that it doesn't say anything about this powerful and unusual man. It doesn't give insight, just facts. I like a well informed author, as Schroeder clearly is, to have a thesis. Hers is dreadfully mundane and and doesn't give him a character beyond other rich, driven men. Tracey Kidder, for example, brings the people in his books into your life, makes them real, shows their humanity, and makes you reconsider them, instead of, as Schroeder has done, consider them a second time.

Luckily, the story massively exceeds its teller and I still liked it.
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