Buffett, By Roger Lowenstein, is the story of “The Making of an American Capitalist.”
First published in 1995, (and updated in 2008) Buffett is the first biography of Warren Buffett ever to be published. Before this book, the “Oracle of Omaha” remained largely unknown… other than being the second richest man alive.
So should you read Buffet? And why is it any different from The Snowball?
In this book review, I’ll explain what I liked about Lowenstein’s Buffett, as well as why it’s different from the other biographical stuff out there.
Why Should You Read Buffett by Roger Lowenstein?
Buffett is worth reading for a few reasons. But if you’re not an avid investment manager (or going down that career path) it might not be the best option for you. Let me tell you why.
Buffet was the first biography published about Warren Buffet. Lowenstein was the first journalist to really shed light on Warren, and did a great job portraying his run at Berkshire Hathaway in the 1990s – some especially successful years for the textile-manufacturer-turned-insurance-conglomerate. And now with hindsight…
Lowenstein’s Buffet has stood the test of time. His predictions seem accurate, and his appraisal of Berkshire seems more relevant than ever. His observations and estimations have been proven validated. It’s pretty cool stuff.
Plus if you’re interested in my objective opinion… I’ll be honest with you…
Why You Might Want To Avoid Reading Buffet
If you’re very interested in Buffett, but not obsessive, you might enjoy reading The Snowball. And to be honest with you, that book would reasonably give you most of what you needed to know about Buffett…
The Snowball (published in 2007 and written by Alice Schroeder), is a much more in-depth look at Warren Buffett’s life, and that of his immediate family. In this way not only do you see Warren up close and personal, but it also shows you who the behind the scenes influences were that shaped his decision making.
But The Snowball doesn’t just give you a personal look at Warren Buffet. You also get an in-depth look at his professional influences and his relationships. This book really features the people around Warren and their influence on him. It provides a fascinating look at how Warren Buffet makes both his business and personal decisions.
On the other hand…
I really liked reading both books. I enjoyed being able to cross-reference different things about the most successful investor of all times. But I realize I’m not the majority here.
However, since we’re on the subject, let me go into a little more detail…
Why Lowenstein’s Buffett is Different From The Snowball:
While The Snowball is a great look at Warren Buffett’s life and approach to business, it is distinctly different from Lowenstein’s Buffett. To be honest, that makes sense. I’m sure Alice Schroeder didn’t want to write an extended version of the same book, right?
For those of us who are eager to soak up all we can learn from the “Oracle of Omaha,” this book provides a really unique perspective. In many ways Lowenstein’s Buffett is a much more candid look at the business and professional decisions Warren Buffett made. The author does a very good job of elucidating lessons for the average retail investor, so you can see what Buffett looks for in his investments.
For me (because of my interest in active portfolio management) these were lessons that I felt were distinctly missing from The Snowball. I actually read that book first, and then sought out Lowenstein’s earlier book. And then it delivered exactly what I felt I was missing. Pretty cool, right?
It’s this emphasis on “take home lessons” are what really make Buffett “The Making of an American Capitalist” worth reading.
Buffett – The Final Word
Whether or not you read Buffett, The Snowball, or both, I think you can learn a lot from Warren Buffett. Of course there are some overlaps in the books. But for me, this book was an entirely different look than the one Schoreder provided. Although I’m not sure everyone will appreciate the difference.
Buffet Book Details and Video Book Review:
Author: Roger Lowenstein
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperback