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Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  12,162 ratings  ·  356 reviews
Starting from scratch, simply by picking stocks and companies for investment, Warren Buffett amassed one of the epochal fortunes of the twentieth century—an astounding net worth of $10 billion, and counting. His awesome investment record has made him a cult figure popularly known for his seeming contradictions: a billionaire who has a modest lifestyle, a phenomenally succe ...more
Kindle Edition, 512 pages
Published July 24th 2013 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 1995)
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Robert
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Abhishek
Nov 13, 2011 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
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Josh Friedlander
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.
David Dennington
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, finding it entertaining and informative, which when you think about it, is unusual when talking about finance and boring stuff of that nature. In reality, it’s a character study of the man himself—and he’s interesting. Buffett’s genius is largely genius of character—of patience, discipline, rationality and resourcefulness. He appears to be one of the few capitalists who got super rich without leaving a trail of victims and suicides (as one would find in a bleeding ...more
Jonathan
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
David Ball
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been following the markets for the better part of 25 years, and over the years I've come across many books, articles, and profiles of Warren Buffett; seen him interviewed countless times on CNBC, even watched a documentary about him on Danish television last week, so I approached Buffett with reasonably low expectations - how much more was there to learn? Quite a bit apparently. This book is as good as the book on his partner Charlie Munger (previously reviewed) was bad. Lowenstein does a g ...more
Sunethra
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this journey into a highly original and principled mind.

The detailed look into his thought processes, values and the passion of his life - investing - was complemented by lowensteins insightful commentary on Buffet's nature - a task rendered all the more difficult by Buffets private nature.
Richie Gill
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read nearly every book regarding Buffett and this is one of the top three alongside Snowball and The Essays of Warren Buffett.
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
...more
Munro Richardson
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
...more
Tim Mort
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Buffett is a modern day hero. Lowenstein does a great job of telling his story in this book while also hammering home some of the reasons why he is so successful: discipline, sticking to his circle of competence, and I dare say most importantly his midwestern values (honesty, fairness, frugality).
Ken Watari
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Zhou Fang
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm kicking myself for not reading this book earlier. This is a fair portrait of Warren Buffett's life and career as an investor. He is simultaneously seen as universal and unapproachable. His easygoing, folksy nature appeals to any student of capitalism. His photographic memory, gift for mental math, and singular dedication to studying makes one wonder if anyone else could achieve what he has. Lowenstein (author of When Genius Failed, also a wonderful book) paints a picture of his motivations a ...more
Yury
Oct 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: noone
Shelves: could-not-finish
For some strange reasons I could not make myself to like the book and the guy. Buffet is not an average Joe, but the book becomes so exhausting about boring life of Buffett that I had to stop. I expected that this book would inspire me. Instead I see this form of money loving as something perverse and not healthy. Author tries to convince us that Buffet is not greedy, he just likes frugality and simplicity. I do not agree. The kind of obsession Buffet has over his money is repulsive, even wrappe ...more
Avadhoot Joshi
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To summarise this book, as correctly described about Buffett in chapter 14 (The Eighties) -
"In the old days he was cigarette butt investor. He looked for value.Then it got hard to find such deals and he became a franchise investor , he bought great businesses at reasonable prices. And then he said, ' I can no longer find good businesses at even acceptable prices, and I will take advantage of my size and teach the world a lesson about long-term investing'. "
This is how Buffett's life has progress
...more
Gergely Szabo
Once or twice a year I come to read a biography of a great man and I just fall for them. This was definitely one of these occasions, I don't think it's possible to dislike this man. His thorough biography is full of things I like in one. Early attempts at what they eventually succeed in, business deals described in detail, character integrity, etc. I rarely go as far as naming someone my idol, but this past ten days Warren Buffet has become one.
Abhilash Bhat
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant book chronicling the life of greatest investor, and one of my few personal idols, the world has seen!!
Contains several pearls of gem about his personality, temperament and his genius that led to a follower-ship bordering on idolatry. From several stories covering his impeccable value-investing style and principles, to instances showing his less-than-perfect personal relationships, this book is a must-read for people wanting to know more about the Oracle of Omaha.
Stefan Bruun
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, finance
A great insight into the life and thinking of one of the greatest investors of all time.
brad-dog
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
An epic work on Buffett and the difinitive book on Buffett's story.
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
Matt
Jun 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Milan
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jewel Miller
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I previously knew many small details about Warren Buffett and had a vague sense of his personality and investment strategies. From the first chapter, this book was captivating as it details key events throughout Buffett's entire life. From his first "businesses" delivering newspapers and arcade games, starting a family and trying to instill his values in his children and in more modern day times, having to take a more direct role in companies he invested in. Buffett's determination from a very y ...more
Chris N
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well-rounded biograpy of the essentials of Buffett's rise to investor extraordinaire.
Having read "The Snowball", this one feels like a welcome summary, trimming the personal details, but still dwelving a bit into some particularities of his private life to give a more complete picture.

The book was published in 1995, the biography stops right after purchasing a big chunk of Coca-Cola shares, so you may miss out on some of the more important moments in his recent history - the development of hi
...more
Stuart
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"An excellent biography of the quirky Oracle of Omaha. Shows his humble upbringing, early entrepreneurial drive, insistence on finding value and holding long-term to avoid taxes on capital gains, and understanding the businesses you invest in. Even shows how he drifted from his own principles of focusing on cash-rich, non capital-intensive companies when he bought US Air. Much shorter than the other Buffet biography, Snowball."
Jihae
Oct 30, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not a terribly exciting book. Warren Buffett's pecularities (drinks coke, lives in Omaha, invests "permanantly") makes him a curious phenom but not an exciting subject matter. And by the time you get to 40th sentence in the likes of "in 10 year period, XYZ stock grow by astonishing 2000%) you are definitely not astonished. And no, there are no stock tips in here that you don't know already.
Cyrin Cyriac
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A student of Benjamin Graham turned teacher to many investment managers in capital allocation. The facts are he is the third richest man in the world but lives a modest and humble life style. Has a net worth of $84.4 billion but only started with $20,000 of his own money.
He really changed my perception on money as something that can grow, not something you work for and spend.
Ryan Manganiello
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I read the version from 1995, I thought it painted a good picture into the life of Warren Buffett, and it was refreshing to see that even he made investment mistakes throughout the years, but yet still managed to become one of the richest men alive.
Pamalah
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Warren Buffett is incredibly interesting. It is great to read about him.
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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

-HarperCollins

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