Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist

Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist

Posted by jack_miller | Published a year ago

With 332 ratings

By: Roger Lowenstein

Purchased At: $34.99

Since its hardcover publication in August of 1995, Buffett has appeared on the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Newsday and Business Week bestseller lists.

Starting from scratch, simply by picking stocks and companies for investment, Warren Buffett amassed one of the epochal fortunes of the twentieth century—an astounding net worth of $10 billion, and counting. His awesome investment record has made him a cult figure popularly known for his seeming contradictions: a billionaire who has a modest lifestyle, a phenomenally successful investor who eschews the revolving-door trading of modern Wall Street, a brilliant dealmaker who cultivates a homespun aura.

Journalist Roger Lowenstein draws on three years of unprecedented access to Buffett’s family, friends, and colleagues to provide the first definitive, inside account of the life and career of this American original. Buffett explains Buffett’s investment strategy—a long-term philosophy grounded in buying stock in companies that are undervalued on the market and hanging on until their worth invariably surfaces—and shows how it is a reflection of his inner self.
A delicious biography of Warren Buffett who not only refused to assist Lowenstein in its creation but signed the author's published copy with a forced reluctance. That image will stay with me. A laudable effort and greatly entertaining read. The last chapter didn't add much overall, but the "Afterword" dated January 2008 was revealing (the book was originally published in 1995). Berkshire-Hathaway was trading at $20,400 a share at the end of 1994 but closed today, May 2018, at $292,000! Buffett's annual letters to shareholders can be read at berkshirehathaway.com.

- alessia_harris

I just finished reading this book. I have read several other Warren Buffett books but this was one of the best ones. I would strongly encourage anyone that wants to know about Warren Buffett to read this book. It goes in depth with his thoughts on various deals and how they turned out. The only thing I did not like his how long was spent on the Salomon Brothers deal. Otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

- salma_murphy

A must read for Buffett fans. Lowenstein has an easy writing style and walks you through all the major events in Warren's life, mostly professional but some significant personal events as well, from childhood through the mid-90's. Lowenstein also takes the time to point-out where and how Warren has learned from and added to the tenants of value investing established by his mentor Benjamin Graham.

- judah_miller

This insightful journey into the life of legendary investor, Warren Buffett reveals a lot why he is truly great. I'm no longer surprised why he is a legend; the results couldn't have been by a stroke of luck consistently over time. He couldn't have been less great. The man is truly a great investor and I am of the opinion that his principles and methodology of picking winning stocks and investments are almost certain to guarantee long-term investment results above the average. Roger Lowenstein has once again exhibited his rare skills as one of the best business authors of modern times. I read one of his previous books some years ago, "When Genius Failed" and was transfixed page by page throughout the pages of that book, hence, of all the biographies written about Warren Buffett, I chose to read his first. Good job, Roger. Keep it up!

- eliezer_myers

At the risk of sacrilege, I got more out of this book than out of the "Intelligent Investor" or "Security Analysis" BECAUSE it chronicles the evolution in Buffett's thinking and approach from the base starting point of the Graham books.

It's, also, a far easier read, yet the research breath and depth is amazing.

Most importantly, it explains the man ... his thinking and the reasons for such in ways that the technique books do not address. The seeming contradictions between what he says and does are clearer and understandable to me, now.

I can't recall thinking this about a book; but, I am very GRATEFUL for this one !

- harlan_james

I really enjoyed the book because it lays out Buffett's motivations and theories really well, and helps to make sense of some of Buffett's comments and actions over the years. For instance, I had wondered why I hadn't heard of him donating more to Columbia University's business school over the years, and the answer is that he has been frustrated by the academics' embracing the EMH, and not giving sufficient credit to the idea that investors can outperform the market over time purchasing undervalued companies the way he has. It also has the story of his father in politics, and I think explains some of his more liberal leanings as he grew older.

Overall, a compelling story that is focused not just on his investment returns and theories, but also on Warren Buffett as a person.

- arjun_wilson

The gain in net of Berkshire Hathaway, the company led by Warren Buffet, worth during 2006 was $16.9 billion, which increased the per-share value of 18.4%. Over the last 42 years value has grown from $19 to $70,281, a rate of 21.4% compounded annually. Consider that $16.9 billion is a record for a one-year gain in net worth - more than has ever been booked by any American business, leaving aside boosts that have occurred because of mergers. Of course, Berkshire did not outperform S&P500 constantly. In 1967, 1975, 1980, 1999, 2003, 2004 the S&P gave better performance, and in 2001 Berkshire even was at a loss of 6.2%.

This book, "Buffett: The making of an American capitalist" covers very deeply the values that led Warren Buffet during his life from his early childhood. The book is not only a biography per se, but a good manual on investing, that uncovers most aspects, with the detailed explanations and samples, of investing.

This book also covers very well personal traits of Warren Buffett, his attitudes toward parents, sister, friends, parents, children and wife. For example, Warren bought a farm and rented it to his son Howie on standard commercial terms. The farm was a joyful refuge to Howie, but he couldn't get Warren to share the experience with him. "I can't get him to come out and see how the crops are going", Howie said plaintively. Warren went only twice in six years. He would laugh off Howies's invitations, saying, "Send me a rent check, and make sure it's big enough". Though he had been thoughtful enough to buy the farm, he couldn't give Howie the fatherly recognition that he craved in other than financial terms.

In his investment strategy, Warren uses the concept that he calls "Intrinsic value" of a company. According to Warren Buffet, intrinsic value is an all-important concept that offers the only logical approach to evaluating the relative attractiveness of investments and businesses. Intrinsic value can be defined simply: It is the discounted value of the cash that can be taken out of a business during its remaining life.

Here is what Kenneth L. Fisher wrote about Buffet's investment strategy: a quality standing out about Mr. Buffett is his ability to morph. If you read his materials from the 1960s, he said very different things than in the 1970s and early-1980s. Early on he was buying dirt-cheap stocks by simple statistical standards and typically smaller stocks--which would today be referred to as smallcap value (although that term didn't exist until the late 1980s). Later he bought what he called "franchises." Then he entered a period of buying great managements of big companies and being a long-term holder--otherwise thought of as big-cap growth today--that many ascribed to the influence of my father coupled with Charlie Munger. When Mr. Buffett was buying Coke and Gillette, you couldn't quite reconcile those activities with the kinds of things he owned two decades earlier. Then, amazingly, seven years ago, at just the right time, he was buying smaller things dirt cheap again just as value came back into play as the twenty-first century began. I have other comments about Mr. Buffett throughout this book but I'd like you to see, while he never lost the core of what he was doing or what he was looking for, he tactically morphed steadily over the decades. Trying to freeze his tactics from any decade and replicate them in the next few would never have led you to his actual actions.

In addition to this book, I also recommend the letters to shareholders written by Warren Buffet, which can be taken from the website of Berkshire Hathaway. If you take an audio record of this title, it will not be as good as the textbook. The audio is more biographical and pays less attention to the investment education of the listener.

- trace_walker

Seen this recommended everywhere and now I know why. A great little read if you want to understand how Warren Buffet was 'made' and the roots of his success. A much more balanced portrait that those which just concentrate on his financial performance.

- kendra_walker

Received the package on time without any issues. this book is just amazing.

- raelyn_thomas

I have read a few books on Warren Buffett, including Snowball. This is a bit dated but still the best.

- ari_johnson

Roger Lowenstein tells the interesting story of Buffett, his family, friends and business associates while highlighting the decision points he made throughout his career which made him so successful. Plenty of lessons to learn about Buffett's investment strategy in an easy to read format.

- kathleen_peterson

Personally, I have great admiration for Buffett and had always wanted to read about the man, to understand his character and personal traits. This book really helped me in getting an insight into these aspects of Buffett, marking his life from his schoold days. It is a worhty read. Well written. Roger does not disappoint you.

- addisyn_nguyen

The value this book gives to an investor is beyond my comprehension.
The Best book on Warren Buffett's life, investments, etc.
Extremely detailed !!

- boone_taylor

Insights abt warren buffet's life,but not much of technical stuff abt stock picking.

- aryan_hill

Very few people will accumulate this much wealth from very little. I would guess, once in a generation or less. Buffett recently mentioned lost investment opportunities of which we will never know, so it is good to know that even ‘the Oracle’ isn’t perfect. Gives hope to the rest of us.

- carlos_young

This is the fourth book by this author in my business library. The research, reasoning and writing are top notch.

- sutton_johnson

This book is probably literally worth it's weight in gold. As an insider's perspective on Buffet's journey, it is filled with rich background, captivating stories, and nowdays unique but none-the-less good old-fashioned investing principles. I'm struck by the simplicity of the investment approach, coupled with diligence, integrity and focus - and its proven ability to yield massive returns. Thank you Mr. Lowenstein for a fantastic book, and thank you Mr. Buffett for demonstrating beyond dispute how well these principles work!

- vada_cox

I really appreciate the read of this book. You learn the life of someone who has succeed in life more than anyone. It's really entertaining and the book has a lot of pages. You won't learn how Buffett did all his money with precision but you will have a big picture of his start and how he grows from his young year to the current year.

- colin_ramirez

What a great biography about a great person. This book gives a really superb insight into a very gifted man who is passionate about his business. Unlike many rich people he has an air of humility which is very refreshing. I have read it many times and always enjoy the experience. I bought this copy for one of my sons in the hope he will glean some wisdom from it to help him make his way in life - at the moment money falls through his fingers like water. Here's hoping!

- warren_reyes

Wasn't sure what to expect but I wanted to learn more about Buffett, and I found this book fascinating! With all the chaos that has occured in the stock markets it was so refreshing to read about his common sense approach. Anyone that has an interest in Warren Buffett and/or investing in companies would get my recommendation to read this book.

- davis_alvarez

Quality of the book is good and the print is amazing

- alicia_collins

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