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ereksonj

ereksonj

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life - Alice Schroeder About 840 pages of text! It took me several weeks, but I did it. The first half of this biography was gripping, taking me back through the early part of the 20th century to see unfold a prime example of one of Gladwell's Outlier. Schroeder has a knack for finding the themes, metaphors, and narrative lines that make Buffett's interest in money feel interesting, and to light up his single-mindedness about judging businesses in a way that helped me feel the brilliance instead of the tedium. The quirkiness, irony, and unpredictability of some of the incidents made it even more engaging, such as the story behind how Berkshire Hathaway was not a 'great business' by any stretch but how it became the signature company for all of Buffett's work. The basic lessons of how he did every little thing are right there in the book in outline form, with clear narrative examples and metaphors to help me feel like I understand enough to follow along.

The problem was that the book stopped being interesting with about 250 pages left to go. The late 1990s and 2000s just felt like a lot of repeats or add-ons to existing information. But she probably felt she had to write these because of the key biographical plot lines that continued to play out in these decades--for example, his wife Susie's death in 2004. As itis, I wish the story had ended with the Salomon issue in the early 1990s, because she could probably write a whole different book to cover the shifts in his family, his foundation, and his finances through the tech bubble and the 2008 financial meltdown. This book gets us just to the edge of the derivatives abyss but no further, because that's when the book was published.