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Snowball - Alice Schroeder


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[amazonsearch]Snowball[/amazonsearch]

 

Surprised to see there was no topic in the 'Books'-section yet about "The Snowball". I started reading this yesterday and am devouring it. Almost finished now. I can understand some of the criticism that I've read so far (unfocused, too much attention for his personal quirks) but I really love the book despite its shortcomings. Not only gives the book a great overview of his life it is probably also the best read on Munger I read so far.

 

I really enjoyed reading about Warren's crazy obsessions, some sections were really funny. Private cooks everywhere having to learn how to make burgers: awesome. Munger being obnoxious everywhere: awesome. Having to ask Rose Blumkin to sign a non-compete at age 95: awesome.

 

Can highly recommend this book. Haven't read the Lowenstein boek, how does it compare?

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I thought the Lowenstein biography did a much better job of setting out Buffett's investment philosophy, and the evolution of his investment philosophy over time from pure Graham to more Mungerish.  I have read the Lowenstein biography 6 times now, and the Snowball only twice, so I must think the Lowenstein biography is 3x better.  :)

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I actually liked the Snowball probably the best out of all the Buffett books I've seen.  Honestly a lot of Buffett books are pretty hard for me to get through.

 

What I'd like to see is a Buffett book that is focused more on investing and less on biography.  I'd especially like to see more in depth discussion of the investments made in his early days while working under graham, his partnership investments, and the investments he's made over the years in his personal portfolio.  There hasn't really been much discussion about a lot of this.  Most of the books just do a few pages on the partnership days in which they'll discuss some of his control investments and the AXP investment and maybe a couple other things.  For the generally undervalued securities category the only description we get is something like, "Buffett bought cheap stocks along Graham lines".  What was actually going on in his portfolio?  What did he buy, what did he almost buy and pass on, what were his biggest winners and losers, why did some work out and others not, etc?  There must have been something special going on beyond basic Graham investing that led to such spectacular performance but for whatever reason it's never been discussed much.

 

Schroeder has actually mentioned doing another book about him that will be written with an audience of investors in mind.  Hopefully she can get it done.

 

 

 

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Surprised to see there was no topic in the 'Books'-section yet about "The Snowball". I started reading this yesterday and am devouring it. Almost finished now. I can understand some of the criticism that I've read so far (unfocused, too much attention for his personal quirks) but I really love the book despite its shortcomings. Not only gives the book a great overview of his life it is probably also the best read on Munger I read so far.

 

I really enjoyed reading about Warren's crazy obsessions, some sections were really funny. Private cooks everywhere having to learn how to make burgers: awesome. Munger being obnoxious everywhere: awesome. Having to ask Rose Blumkin to sign a non-compete at age 95: awesome.

 

Can highly recommend this book. Haven't read the Lowenstein boek, how does it compare?

 

Wow, reading the Snowball in one day!

 

Do you have a speed reading secret that you can tell us?

 

:)

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I am currently suffering from Buffett/Munger Fatigue.  If indicted for heresy, I am guilty as charged.  Up to 2008, I avidly devoured everything written/transcribed, and eagerly went to BRK, WSCO, DJCO meetings.  Curiously, since given this book as a gift when it came out in 2008, the addiction has waned.  It's still on my pile of books to read, but I don't think I'll get to it within the next few years.  (At least Munger can no longer label me as a cultist.)

 

Anything in Schroeder's book about how Buffett seems to be such a good judge of character, whether it's someone's managerial, personal, ethical abilities?  Is there anything about these intangibles that is explicitly of a checklist variety, or is it all intuitive?  I'd like to get some insight on why it allegedly failed in cases like Gutfreund, Brandon, Sokol, and maybe Schroeder herself?  Admittedly his track record in this arena has so far been phenomenal, but, given the decentralized structure of BRK, the long-term future of BRK will be highly dependent on this skill.

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  • 2 years later...

I ordered the book yesterday, and I look forward for the read of it.

 

It's great. It's not just a business biography, but also a personal biography, so as long as you're fine with that and aren't just expecting an updated version of the Lowenstein book, I think you'll like it.

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Thanks, Liberty,

 

Yes, I got the impression, that the book was so, by reading the earlier posts in this topic. It also seems evident from the content of this topic, that Alice Schroeder  - and Mr. Buffet himself - actually have put a lot of Kjoules into the book.

 

What a bummer ... To get turned down by Carol Loomis on a book with his active participation, and then ending with being disappointed with the outcome of the cooperation on a book with Mrs. Schroeder.

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Don't read into his disappointment or any falling out that he's had with Schroeder that it's a bad book. I think she dug deep into some of the issues that Buffett had with his mother, and that might not have been to his pleasing, but it doesn't mean that it isn't true and worthwhile information to help better understand where Buffett comes form.

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I understand, Liberty,

 

There is always a risk participating in building a biography of you, if you at the same time try to be protective towards your dear ones and the biography also covers your own interactions in the past with your dear ones. Perhaps this is both about his relation to his late mother and his first marriage.

 

I hope the book will tell  me something about it.

 

Thanks.

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I have read both the books - "Of Permanent Value" is a better book overall. Snowball is targeted to the American mass audience and is not as good. Schroeder's talk (video is shared by others in this board earlier) is far more valuable IMO. Again, I don't really care to do ten levels of psycho analysis on Buffett's relationship with various folks.

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

As Liberty said, this is a thorough biography.  Lots of details about Buffett's personal life.  If you're more interested in his investing and business career, Lowenstein's book is excellent (it has much less about Buffett's personal life so its a lot shorter). 

 

I enjoyed Snowball and would recommend it if you really want the full picture of Buffett as both a person and businessman/investor.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Finally received the book today. The quality of the book - as such, as a book - leaves a lot behind, being a book - as such. Poor page cutting etc.

 

The printing craftmanship is to me just secunda quality. I look forward to the reading, though. I hope the contents conpensate for the overall state of the physical book as such.

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Finally received the book today. The quality of the book - as such, as a book - leaves a lot behind, being a book - as such. Poor page cutting etc.

 

The printing craftmanship is to me just secunda quality. I look forward to the reading, though. I hope the contents conpensate for the overall state of the physical book as such.

Enjoy! I got it in September 2008. At that time I was working in banking in London. Despite being in the middle of the shit storm I couldn't put it down.

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I have now read some of the chapters in this book in the weekend. I've been "jumping around" in the book, because I think every chapter can be read separately, as a "separate, tiny book/story".

 

Ms. Schroeder is to me a very good writer. She goes much more in depth on some stories & themes about Berkshire and Mr. Buffett, that I have read about before, but not for me other places described in such depth before. Naturally this is the outcome of having direct access to the man that the book is about.

 

- - - o 0 o - - -

 

On a more personal - and thereby subjective - note from me [perhaps this has some cultural dimension also, I don't know]: To me, this book contains information about some events involving Mr. Buffett's first wife and what happened to her in her last years before her death, that to me do not belong in a book - not even a biography - about Mr. Buffett.

 

Those descriptions - I have duly noted - are mostly without notes and sources [elsewhere, the book is filled with a lot of notes and sources], and I was thinking while readin it: "How did Ms. Schroeder get this information?" - and more important: "Why did she publish it as it as written in the book?".

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Guest longinvestor

I have now read some of the chapters in this book in the weekend. I've been "jumping around" in the book, because I think every chapter can be read separately, as a "separate, tiny book/story".

 

Ms. Schroeder is to me a very good writer. She goes much more in depth on some stories & themes about Berkshire and Mr. Buffett, that I have read about before, but not for me other places described in such depth before. Naturally this is the outcome of having direct access to the man that the book is about.

 

- - - o 0 o - - -

 

On a more personal - and thereby subjective - note from me [perhaps this has some cultural dimension also, I don't know]: To me, this book contains information about some events involving Mr. Buffett's first wife and what happened to her in her last years before her death, that to me do not belong in a book - not even a biography - about Mr. Buffett.

 

Those descriptions - I have duly noted - are mostly without notes and sources [elsewhere, the book is filled with a lot of notes and sources], and I was thinking while readin it: "How did Ms. Schroeder get this information?" - and more important: "Why did she publish it as it as written in the book?".

 

That to me crosses every line; ethical, fairness, whatever. To think this book would pass off as a biography of sorts, of a person who is still living is insane. While she makes money off of it, the only reason for the money being made is the name "Buffett" in the title! Shameful.

 

I was happy to watch the other movie about his life.

 

 

 

 

 

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I have now read some of the chapters in this book in the weekend. I've been "jumping around" in the book, because I think every chapter can be read separately, as a "separate, tiny book/story".

 

Ms. Schroeder is to me a very good writer. She goes much more in depth on some stories & themes about Berkshire and Mr. Buffett, that I have read about before, but not for me other places described in such depth before. Naturally this is the outcome of having direct access to the man that the book is about.

 

- - - o 0 o - - -

 

On a more personal - and thereby subjective - note from me [perhaps this has some cultural dimension also, I don't know]: To me, this book contains information about some events involving Mr. Buffett's first wife and what happened to her in her last years before her death, that to me do not belong in a book - not even a biography - about Mr. Buffett.

 

Those descriptions - I have duly noted - are mostly without notes and sources [elsewhere, the book is filled with a lot of notes and sources], and I was thinking while readin it: "How did Ms. Schroeder get this information?" - and more important: "Why did she publish it as it as written in the book?".

 

That to me crosses every line; ethical, fairness, whatever. To think this book would pass off as a biography of sorts, of a person who is still living is insane. While she makes money off of it, the only reason for the money being made is the name "Buffett" in the title! Shameful.

 

I was happy to watch the other movie about his life.

 

Thank you, longinvestor.

 

+1. Exactly: plain shameful.

 

I know there are lot a good persons on this board, one can actually sense it, after reading the board over the years. It's comforting, that you step up.

 

Ms. Schroeder was actually one of the very few persons at the time of the publishing of the book, that knew all details of those events, and also knew what this did to Mr. Buffett at that time. I can imagine what it would do to him reading book, thereby experiencing the whole thing again, and at the same time knowing, that now this would be available to all, who would pay for the book.

 

Mr. Buffets mourning at that time is the mere confirmation that he married the right person for him. The personal feeling of the loss is the positive confirmation of, that the person has lost something very valuable to the person, here the end of a relationship to a person very near and dear. Mourning is a process of inverting.

 

The Golden Rule comes to mind here.

 

I sure understand that Mr. Buffett has put Ms. Schroeder on ice.

 

If I had known that I would read such kind of stuff in the book, I would have got it at the local library, and delivered it back after reading. That's sure.

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Buffett is very likely the source of that personal information. I don't remember having any problem with it being in the book. He's human, I'm human, we all have our stuff. I feel like I get him much better as a human being thanks to the personal stuff than if all this was about were his business dealings (there's plenty of books about those). To each their own I suppose ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Buffett is very likely the source of that personal information. I don't remember having any problem with it being in the book. He's human, I'm human, we all have our stuff. I feel like I get him much better as a human being thanks to the personal stuff than if all this was about were his business dealings (there's plenty of books about those). To each their own I suppose ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

I agree with you.  I read the book when it first came out, so it has been a few years and I don't remember all the details, but I don't remember being shocked or outraged at anything I read.  He isn't the messiah, he's a human being.  Nobody's perfect.  Also, it was an authorized biography.  If you allow someone access to your life, you have to realize they are probably going to write things you might have prefered to remain private. If that wasn't the case it wouldn't be a very good biography IMHO.

 

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What part are you guys talking about?  Where his wife moved to California and allegedly kept a tennis pro lover or the stuff about her wanting to marry the guy from high school and rekindling with him out there as well; or the stuff about Mr. B and kay graham?

 

One thing I would note that sort of detracts from her authority in my mind is that I saw a youtube video of a speech she gave some years ago, likely in connection with promoting the book.  Anyhow, she was asked about the Munger - Buffett relationship and she said they are merely social friends and had been that way a long time, there was no business partnership.  It is clear to me that this is totally incorrect (at least how I would define it and intellectually) based on the the Q&A sessions at the annual meeting.

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