This is a review of the book ‘The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life’ by Alice Schroeder.
This book reads like a novel about Warren Buffett.
I believe this book is the closest readers will get to Warren Buffett writing an autobiography of his life. He gave the author unprecedented access to his life, family, and friends and it shows through the rich detail she was able to write with about all aspects of his life.
The book takes you back to the beginnings of Warren as a child growing up with his two sisters and his father who was a U.S.Congressman. It gives insight into his childhood obsessions of bottle cap collecting, making money, and the odd things he did from writing down license plate numbers that drove by and finger printing nuns. Why would he do these odd things? If a bank robber went by Warren figured he would be an eyewitness to the plate numbers, if a nun was suspected of murder he would have her finger prints ready for the police. This odd thinking ahead lead him to studying probabilities and diving deep into the study of handicapping in horse racing.
These personality quirks were preparing him to unleash his genius in investing. Warren was an astute businessman as a child, running an important paper route that was usually ran by adults and also starting a pinball machine business where he learned how to reinvest the profits back in to the business to buy more machines creating a type of metaphorical snowball that gained momentum and size as it rolled.
In high school he was making more than his teachers and had amassed thousands of dollars at a young age. He even purchased a farm and had a tenant farmer working it for him while he was still in high school. The book shows his adulthood from being a stock broker to opening his own partnership where his investments beat the market substantially every year it was open.
You will find his business lessons sprinkled throughout this book and his opinions expressed in his own words concerning many areas of life. His investing principles are both simple in concept and ingenious in his thought process.
The primary story within this book is how he turned an inevitably bankrupt textile company Berkshire-Hathaway into the amazing insurance conglomerate umbrella of companies. This turn around is one of the most amazing stories in the history of American Business. Berkshire went from a $7.50 a share stock in 1962 to a stock worth $347,000 a share in 2020. This is by far the greatest turnarounds in corporate history.
This book also shares the details of Warren’s relationship with his late wife, and the interesting dynamics of his companion Astrid who lived with him and took care of him after his wife moved to San Francisco. This book will appeal to anyone interested in the man who grew up to be the richest man in the world. His life, loves, passions, and the way he thinks and invests. The book is a delightful read, and I give it a strong 5 stars.