Warren Buffett Up Close
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Buffett the Investor
In its nearly 900 pages, The Snowball touches on a lot of Buffett's financial acumen, his early partnerships, and his investments that both succeeded (GEICO, Blue Chip stamps) and failed (including Berkshire Hathaway itself, a textile mill operation that would only start to succeed when Buffett began phasing textiles out and transforming it into a conglomerate).
But there is not as much financial analysis as many might expect, given both Buffett's historical significance and Alice Schroeder's background as a financial writer. Yes, the title itself refers to a core investing concept, but more specifically, it seems, to the rich accumulation of personal experiences Buffett has enjoyed since his cold Nebraska upbringing.
"The book is aimed at the audience who wants to know about Warren Buffett the man and his life," Alice says. "It's not aimed at left-brainers who want a business textbook. I have all that material in my files. I didn't give it to them. Maybe someday they'll get it. Not yet."
Buffett was more interesting to her as a person than as an investor, and Alice felt the latter story has been told well enough by Buffett himself, in the form of his public statements and letters to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. "Warren Buffett has given his principles of investment to everyone in shouting range," she says. "There's no big magic secret hiding in his files that he hasn't told people. The great mystery is why people don't listen to him when he does say something to them."