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Business Adventures - John Brooks


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[amazonsearch]Business Adventures[/amazonsearch]

 

I haven't read it, but it was just reviewed by Bill Gates here:

 

http://online.wsj.com/articles/bill-gatess-favorite-business-book-1405088228

 

Apparently recommended to him by Buffett as his "favorite book about business". Definitely on my list now.

 

There's a video produced by Gates about the book and author here:

 

 

Brooks also has a few other books that seem interesting:

  • The Go-Go Years: The Drama and Crashing Finale of Wall Street's Bullish 60s
  • Once in Golconda: A True Drama of Wall Street 1920-1938

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I have a hunch that this WSJ article showed up for a reason.  It just so happens that a re-issue of the book is coming out in the next month.  I'm guessing someone bought the publishing rights...

 

Still, I ordered a copy.  A used one :D

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I have a hunch that this WSJ article showed up for a reason.  It just so happens that a re-issue of the book is coming out in the next month.  I'm guessing someone bought the publishing rights...

 

Still, I ordered a copy.  A used one :D

 

Of course that's the case.  I figured there was some connection and saw that too.  It's interesting how Buffett's favorite business book of all time is one he's never mentioned before.  It's not like he's never mentioned favorite books before or isn't talking non-stop.  My guess is the book is coming out, someone somehow reached out to Buffett (and Gates through him) and said "Warren, remember John Brooks?  He always loved you.  Really loved you.  No, it's not the John Brooks who runs the deli you like.  Yeah, it's the John Brooks who was a writer.  Well, we're re-releasing one of his old books and a blurb from you would really have made him feel good.  He always spoke and wrote highly of you.  If you could say something nice about this book that you read once over 40 years ago that would be appreciated."

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I have a hunch that this WSJ article showed up for a reason.  It just so happens that a re-issue of the book is coming out in the next month.  I'm guessing someone bought the publishing rights...

 

Still, I ordered a copy.  A used one :D

 

Of course that's the case.  I figured there was some connection and saw that too.  It's interesting how Buffett's favorite business book of all time is one he's never mentioned before.  It's not like he's never mentioned favorite books before or isn't talking non-stop.  My guess is the book is coming out, someone somehow reached out to Buffett (and Gates through him) and said "Warren, remember John Brooks?  He always loved you.  Really loved you.  No, it's not the John Brooks who runs the deli you like.  Yeah, it's the John Brooks who was a writer.  Well, we're re-releasing one of his old books and a blurb from you would really have made him feel good.  He always spoke and wrote highly of you.  If you could say something nice about this book that you read once over 40 years ago that would be appreciated."

 

I have bought it nonetheless… Just like Mr. Buffett joked one time: “there might be some truth about that rumor after all!”

 

;D ;D ;D

 

Gio

 

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Alice Schroeder did recommend books by John Brooks in her Reddit AMA.  I realize that is stretching the connection to Warren a bit, but this author and his books have not just come out of nowhere.  I'm adding it to my list.  Quote from Reddit:

 

"I like books from business history -- anything by Galbraith, Keynes, John Brooks. Mark Twain said history doesn't repeat but it rhymes and that's really true. Warren stressed to me over and over how much studying business history has helped him."

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Alice Schroeder did recommend books by John Brooks in her Reddit AMA.  I realize that is stretching the connection to Warren a bit, but this author and his books have not just come out of nowhere.  I'm adding it to my list.  Quote from Reddit:

 

"I like books from business history -- anything by Galbraith, Keynes, John Brooks. Mark Twain said history doesn't repeat but it rhymes and that's really true. Warren stressed to me over and over how much studying business history has helped him."

 

John Brooks was a very well known writer in his day. Kind of like the Michael Lewis of his time. The Go-Go Years is worth reading and is enjoyable. If memory serves, I'm pretty sure Michael Lewis wrote the forward on a re-issue of that one years ago. In any case, I find it hard to believe that a collection of business profiles put together in the late 1960s is his favorite business book of all time.

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I have a hunch that this WSJ article showed up for a reason.  It just so happens that a re-issue of the book is coming out in the next month.  I'm guessing someone bought the publishing rights...

 

Still, I ordered a copy.  A used one :D

 

Well, Bill Gates and Buffett probably wouldn't publicly recommend a book that is out of print and that most people can't easily get. If it was still in print, maybe they'd have done this 2 years ago or whatever. Maybe they were involved with the reprint, but probably because they want people to read it, not because it's material money wise.

 

IMO this is probably Warren's 'favorite book ABOUT business', but he also has different favorite books about investing (Intelligent Investor, Security Analysis) and such... Everybody has a bunch of favorites and depending how you ask you'll get a different answer, and then the media will punch if up by said it's THE favorite.

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It's definitely weird how I've read tens of thousands of pages by Buffett / about Buffett and this book never once came up until yesterday.

 

One possibility is that Buffett recommends Graham to the larger public because he wants them to learn about that way of thinking, but when Bill Gates came to him, he wasn't going to recommend Graham to Gates - he already knew that stuff - so he recommended something that's less educational/didactic and more what he enjoyed reading (kind of like the difference between how a textbook can teach you more, but you get more pleasure reading Michael Lewis).

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Bill even promotes the book on his blog: http://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Business-Adventures . You can download one chapter for free.

 

I heard the inside scoop on this. Here's what happened. Bill went to the grocery store for the first time in over 25 years and couldn't believe the prices. He got worried and decided that having all his wealth in Microsoft stock and various other investments wasn't secure enough so he figured he should develop some alternative streams of income. He ran into a book publisher who told him that if he pushed this book, and got Buffett to do so too, he would pull down 3 cents for every copy sold.  The original offer was 2 cents, but Gates is a tough negotiator and got it bumped up to 3 cents.

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Buffett: Hey Bill, I bet you I can get ten thousand "value investors" to buy a book of random, out of print, old business articles from an author they never heard of.

 

Gates: No way. These guys always do their research. They think independently and ignore the crowd.

 

Buffett: It's easy. Just let them think it was our little secret. And add a pre-order button.

 

Gates: This was a great illuminati meeting. I've learned so much from you Warren.

 

Lebron: Same here.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Buffett: Hey Bill, I bet you I can get ten thousand "value investors" to buy a book of random, out of print, old business articles from an author they never heard of.

 

Gates: No way. These guys always do their research. They think independently and ignore the crowd.

 

Buffett: It's easy. Just let them think it was our little secret. And add a pre-order button.

 

Gates: This was a great illuminati meeting. I've learned so much from you Warren.

 

Lebron: Same here.

 

I literally almost fell off my chair reading this...

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  • 1 month later...

Skeptical about the way this book was promoted by Gates, I took a shot and ordered it anyway.  I finished it last night.  Bill, if you are reading this, I am sorry for being cynical.  This is one of the best books I have ever read about business. 

 

 

Sure, the book won't show readers a path to riches, and the subject matter (insider trading, stockholder meetings, intellectual property, business successes, business failures) may, at first glance, leave one wondering: Why bother, haven't I read enough about these subjects? 

 

 

What makes this book so rewarding is that in addition to taking readers on a chronological path through each true story, Brooks, at the same time, delves so richly into the people involved that instead of reading it, I often felt like I was living it.  A fascinating set of stories where human nature plays a key role, and how greed, envy, luck, and incentives combine for dramatic outcomes.  A classic book that will still be relevant in another 50 years.

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  • 2 months later...

I finally got around to reading this book and it was fantastic.  My two favorite stories in the book were "the last great corner" the story of Piggly Wiggly and "in the defense of sterling" about the devaluation of the pound and the struggles of monetary policy.  However, all the stories were entertaining and it was a great business history book.

 

Thanks for the recommendation.

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