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The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  43,195 ratings  ·  1,335 reviews
Here is THE book recounting the life and times of one of the most respected men in the world, Warren Buffett. The legendary Omaha investor has never written a memoir, but now he has allowed one writer, Alice Schroeder, unprecedented access to explore directly with him and with those closest to him his work, opinions, struggles, triumphs, follies, and wisdom. The result is ...more
Hardcover, 960 pages
Published September 29th 2008 by Bantam (first published 2008)
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Nathan I think what was meant was that her will indirectly revealed that she was romantically involved with another man, revealing that Astrid had in affect …moreI think what was meant was that her will indirectly revealed that she was romantically involved with another man, revealing that Astrid had in affect been deceived into thinking that the Buffets were still carrying on a semi-normal and loyal marriage relationship. Susan's parallel lives were her relationship with Warren and her romantic involvement with another man.(less)

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 ·  43,195 ratings  ·  1,335 reviews

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Scott Dinsmore
Jul 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Why I Read this Book: Warren Buffett is the epitome of success in many ways for a lot of people. I had to find out the real story.

Topics Covered:

* Modeling
* Internal Values
* Value Investing
* Trade offs of various forms of success
* Understanding your purpose and priorities
* Importance of Relationships


I preordered my copy of Snowball through Amazon the day it was announced. I will warn you that I am a fanatic. I make it out to Omaha each year for the Berkshire Hathaway meeting and it’
Apr 02, 2013 rated it liked it
After finished reading almost 800 pages book on biography of Warren Buffett most pressing question I have now is WHO THE HELL IS CHARLIE MUNGER?!?!!

I was completely fascinated by the straight talking lesser known partner of Berkshire Hathaway. The few quotes of Charlie Munger in the book is enough to justify the poor writings elsewhere. There are so much fluff in the book, that gems of wisdom from Charlie Munger stood out. Once asked about technology stocks in late 1990s Munger once said "Even
May 08, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gossip
This was a disappointing book.
At 834 pages plus notes and index there were a lot of words,
but at least 80% were just gossip about who had a problem
with drinking, drugs, hurt feelings etc etc etc.

(NOTE: Just read Buffett, The making of an American capitalist,
That book is 1000 times better: 22 March 2012)

The trivia even included who their babysitter married!!!

Over the years I've read often about the remarkable partnership of Buffett and Munger,
but very very little of that is mentioned in this b
Nov 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: serious investors
To succeed in business, be patient, look for value, be honest, and have cash in hand. And don't think about anything else. In fact, be an unrepentent monomaniac. Warren Buffett has become the worlds richest man by making investments that he gets derided for at 10-year intervals, then, when the bubble bursts, he is a saint again.... Buffett is extremely good at making money - and has a rather impressive idea about what to do with it (keep investing, give it all away to someone who is good at givi ...more
Nov 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: biography
No, this is NOT "THE book" ...

Want a real bio of Warren Buffett? You'll have to keep waiting, because this book ain't it.

This baby's got some major boo-boos in just the first 50 pages. (But there's more later!) Add in overwriting, poor writing, and apparently economic slants or ax-grinding and ugg ....

First, the early errors:

1. She claims Hoover was Coolidge's VP. Nope, twas Charles Curtis.

2. She claims some other speech, not "Cross of Gold," was William Jennings Bryan's most famous. Not even c
Oct 26, 2009 rated it it was ok
I rarely give up on books but I gave up on this one after about 100 pages. After 100 pages we are still sorting through Warren's paper routes and stamp collections. I am interested in Warren Buffet, but do we really need over 800 pages in this biography? There are biographies of Winston Churchill that are shorter.

I would say this book is only for people that are really, really interested in Buffet.

Good luck.
Nov 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-books
Let no one ever accuse Alice Schroeder of being anything less than thorough. She has brought new meaning to the phrase "exhaustively researched."

I first got really interested in finance a couple years ago when I decided to pay off my student loans at an accelerated rate (and now they're all gone, thanks in part to the research I did on effectively managing personal finances). Anyway, at that time well-meaning people (including my father's financial advisor) recommended I read The Total Money Ma
Max Stone
Jun 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Clearly worth reading if you are a Warren groupie (which I am)

Maybe worth reading if you aren't?

Some have faulted the book for not being stronger in the secrets of his investment success. This is silly. For starters, Warren Buffet himself has written extensively on that topic, imparting most of the wisdom that can be imparted. Read his annual letters or even interviews if you want that. And second, by definition there isn't an easy playbook of rules that people can follow for financial success.
Saurabh Hooda
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The snowball gives a sneak preview look into the life of the greatest investor in Universe (Yes, he can beat Mars folks too). The biography tells his nature, his characteristics, his habits and so many other things about him. If you want to read this book to get some tips to become billionaire, or some stock tips, then this might not be the right book. The snowball doesn't give any tips or tricks; it just presents the incidents in Warren's life and how he reacted to them. Everything is left for ...more
Daniel Clausen
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2021
Like the man himself, the book can often be dry, riskless, and homespun. The aesthetic quality reflects the subject-matter of the book. And that is one of the points of this great man's life: high quality success is rarely very flashy. It can be as simple as a man sitting in a room reading newspapers and almanacs for hours on end, obsessed with finding bargains, inner score cards, and margins of safety. Success, often, is a person marrying wisely and staying married despite the hardships. Succes ...more
Mike W
Oct 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: economics, biography
This is a good biography of Warren Buffett, but it could have been better. While it depicted his personal life and his character well, it could have done a better job with his investment philosophy. Roger Lowenstein's earlier biography was better, in this regard.

Buffett is a complex character, as Schroeder portrays him. He inveighs against privilege, inherited wealth and nepotism, but gives his kids $1 million a year as birthday gifts and appoints them as directors of his company, Berkshire Hath
Dec 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Fascinating man with an intriguing story to tell.

Biographies are not something I read a lot of, and when I do I am not sure exactly how to review them - we will just call this a disclaimer.

Solidly written and well balanced between the personal and the more over-arching, this was a really good read. I also appreciate the fact that this is not a glowing portrayal from start to finish, it seems like a fair portrayal, not overly filtered nor overtly striving for the negative. Mr. Buffett is simply
Austin Alter
Mar 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
The story of how pinball machines and counterfeit salad oil helped build one of the great modern fortunes is fascinating, but there is a reason people generally aren't clamoring to read 976 page books by former CPA's. The writing is dull and repetitive, the pacing slows to a crawl by the end. ...more
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011-book-list
A great look at the richest man in the world (or second depending on how Bill Gates' stocks did today.)

I once wrote a letter to Warren Buffet asking him to come speak to the Buckhead Church staff. A few days later, I received an email from him politely declining. I was amazed he took the time to even respond. Here are some insights from one of the smartest people around:

Warren Buffett to his biographer: "Whenever my version is different from somebody else's, use the less flattering version."

Nick Duretta
Jul 24, 2012 rated it liked it
This probably is a very good book -- the author is a superb writer -- but it didn't overcome my natural aversion to lengthy, overly detailed biographies such as this. Buffett is, of course, a fascinating subject, the richest man in the world but one who is not greedy, does not wallow in conspicuous consumerism, and is inherently modest. Schroeder leads us through every phase of his life, and it is a remarkable one. But I found myself skimming over much of the minutiae and fixating on some of the ...more
Emma Jiang
Mar 24, 2018 is currently reading it
Shelves: 1-non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alexandre Milouchev
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
* Massively unexpected lessons on morals, more than capitalism and investing. Warren has become my personal hero worth emulating in almost every way.
* Very long and long-winded (37h audiobook). If you don't have the patience or the time it'll be painful. But was enjoyable for me.

Oh, what a book. Or rather, what a man. Feels like no matter what I write, I won't do it justice. Let's put it this way: I've been reading many biographies, and this one stands out as the one that really changed my
Trung Nguyen Dang
This is the definitely book on Warren Buffett and a treat to Buffett fan. It is extremely detailed about WB's personal life and about his complex personality. It is a must-read for Buffett fan. I really did not want to put it down once I started. I started on a Thursday, and almost every minute of my spare time where my mind was not engaged at work or with family was spent on listening to this book, and I completed on a Sunday morning.

Overall, WB's personality was complex. He's certainly obsessi
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Buffett Groupies
Beware! This is a poorly edited and tedious book.

Schroder, an inexperienced biographer, could have benefited from a more aggressive editor. There are over 300+ pages of minutia and repetition in the main text. Surprisingly, the excessive trivialities centre around Buffett's and his extended family's lives rather than overly detailed discussion of his business deals.

Hierology is probably the wrong word, but you do get a sense that the author idolises Buffett. I would have preferred a more imparti
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good attempt at a great biography. Very worthwhile in audiobook format.

Parts of the story are very well done with crisp insights supported with good logic and solid story narratives. Other parts become way too bogged down in the minutiae of details of deal after deal after deal across decades of time.

The portions at the beginning and the end are most helpful in understanding how Buffett operates and used his astounding memory and fascination with numbers to generate the wealth he made, as well
Oct 03, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, biographic
This is way more information than I can ever really imagine wanting about anyone I'm not married to. While it scratched my itch of "knowing more about Warren Buffett's life and perspective on finances" I didn't need point-by-point examinations of each of his early childhood friendships. Interesting but depressing background about his relationships with his parents but Freudian analysis is only interesting up to a point... ...more
Dec 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
hard to get through read half of it, it's gigantic and got tired of it. It's all facts and not much about his thought process or how he makes decisions so not exactly what I was hoping for. Generally more interesting than it should be though for the writing style. ...more
Rick Wilson
Apr 01, 2021 rated it liked it
The first half of this book is fantastic, representing a great portrait of a very interesting man.

The second half gets bogged down with random dinners and tabloid gossip. And it wouldn’t really be a problem except that this is a 900+ page book. I wish it had been 600, with most of the editing coming from the extensive descriptions of bridge games and dinners.
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Life story of Warren Buffet. About 800 pages. In detail, outlines in amazing detail many of his deals. Even more detail on personal relationships – a real dissection of who he is and how he came to be what he is.Goes into Howie in some detail – how he really wanted to be a farmer, his migration to Decatur, what his functions were at ADM, etc. How $1,000 invested with Warren early on made multi millionaires out of a number of people.His relationship with Bill and Melinda Gates (he thought of Bill ...more
Jan 23, 2009 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Dec 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Get ready for a ride through this tome. It covers Buffett's childhood right up to the present. I enjoyed reading about the education of Buffett in school, out of school, in work and with people. What could have shortened the book was the too many facts about people in his life. The sentence would mention a person and you'd have to read though that persons life history and his or her family's history. I enjoy bios but if I want to read a person's bio I'll pick up their book.
Another thing that bot
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Having read more finance heavy value investing books like Buffettology and Warren Buffett Way, I was expecting a more detailed and numbers driven account of Buffett's life. However, this book covers his life from personal and layperson perspective which I found refreshing.

The book gives a great portrait of what drives Warren Buffett and what his personality is like. Having the reputation of one of the World's richest people and having a number of books that lionize him, it is easy to believe th
Dec 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009, non-fiction
I have always disliked Warren Buffutt because of his political views. It seems very easy and convenient to be in favor of all sorts of wealth redistribution when you have so much wealth that it will make absolutely no difference to you. While I still disagree with what he stands for politically, I enjoyed the book immensely. It is a rare non-fiction book that keeps you up late on multiple nights. He has had a truely amazing life and has illustrated the benefits of compounding wealth more than an ...more
Joan Machlis-crasemann
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot. I think there is a lot unsaid since Buffett is the Oracle of Omaha and very much alive, I learned so much about his unique business approach and strategies. Really remarkable decisions. It is a story, better than any self help book, about living your life as you chose, even before you are a billionaire. It seems that Buffett's insistence on forging his own way was contagious to his family and friends--his children and the many women whom he needed in his life. It is also ...more
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly thorough account of Buffett's life to date. While the author clearly admires Buffett, she isn't above sharing his shortfalls, which lends to a more complete take on him that is seen in the daily media. Particularly enlightening is how she ties his upbringing into his choices and views later in life, including the turnaround at Solomon and his handling of the financial crisis. A must read for someone curious about one of the most success businessman in modern history. ...more
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Ms. Schroeder was born in Texas, and she earned an undergraduate degree and her MBA at the University of Texas at Austin before moving east to work in finance. She is a former CPA and lives in Connecticut with her husband.

Alice Schroeder was a noted insurance industry analyst and writer who was a managing director at Morgan Stanley. She first met Warren Buffett when she published research on Berk

News & Interviews

“I'm in a weird place because the book is about to come out. So I'm basically just walking around like a raw nerve and I'm not sure that I...
22 likes · 4 comments
“On me personally what has been the most important was to understand the value of time -- and this is something that has come from observing him, learning his story and that time compounds. What you do when you are young (and as you use time over your life) can have an exponential effect so that if you are thoughtful about it, you can really have powerful results later, if you want to.

Also, that is a reason to be hopeful, because compounding is something that happens pretty quickly. If you are 50 or 60, it is not too late. He said to me one time, if there is something you really want to do, don't put it off until you are 70 years old. ... Do it now. Don't worry about how much it costs or things like that, because you are going to enjoy it now. You don't even know what your health will be like then.

On the other hand, if you are investing in your education and you are learning, you should do that as early as you possibly can, because then it will have time to compound over the longest period. And that the things you do learn and invest in should be knowledge that is cumulative, so that the knowledge builds on itself. So instead of learning something that might become obsolete tomorrow, like some particular type of software [that no one even uses two years later], choose things that will make you smarter in 10 or 20 years. That lesson is something I use all the time now.”
“Time is the friend of the wonderful business, the enemy of the mediocre.” 10 likes
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