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Old 10th Feb 2009, 5:20   #1
knovella
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Default The Snowball--Warren Buffett, plus Plimpton

The Snowball--The best book I've read in two years, and I"ve read about 20 books, some crap and some big.

I usually let other people worry about money, but Warren Buffett's biography has peeled my skin back. If you think you're smart, read it. A short history of 20th century economics, with real examples. Best book. Author to be commended.

Also, "George Being George", an anecdotal memoir "of" not "by" George Plimpton, who is two degrees from everyone. It's another history lesson about the 20th century, plus a free short lesson in how to get on with people.

Nellie Aldrich, who is not known for his cleverness, did a very nice job editing the book, which is in a great "have you got time for a drink" format.
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Old 10th Feb 2009, 10:48   #2
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Default Re: The Snowball--Warren Buffett, plus Plimpton

Thanks for flagging up George, Being George, knovella. I'm guessing from the subtitle (George Plimpton's Life as Told, Admired, Deplored, and Envied by 200 Friends, Relatives, Lovers, Acquaintances, Rivals - and a Few Unappreciative Observers) that it takes the same 'oral biography' format as Plimpton's superb Truman Capote: in Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career. If it's half as good as that volume, I'm sold. Shame it has no UK publisher yet though.
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Old 16th Feb 2009, 18:09   #3
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Default Re: The Snowball--Warren Buffett, plus Plimpton

I like books that really make you change your mind about things. This book seems particularly fitting for this year (the credit crunch). So it teaches you all about how money problems can "snowball" out of control? It sounds good. I´ll check it out! I like the title too.. it makes me imagine a snowy scene!

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Old 20th Aug 2009, 20:27   #4
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Default Re: The Snowball--Warren Buffett, plus Plimpton

Snowball, the Warren Buffett biography knovella mentions above is an astonishing read. Highly, highly recommended.
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Old 21st Aug 2009, 17:12   #5
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Default Re: The Snowball--Warren Buffett, plus Plimpton

I'm going to pick this up on the basis of your recommendation, Alan (and knovella's). The paperback isn't out till October, so it'll have to wait until then - at almost 1,000 pages, the hardback is a no-no...
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Old 21st Aug 2009, 17:43   #6
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Default Re: The Snowball--Warren Buffett, plus Plimpton

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self View Post
I'm going to pick this up on the basis of your recommendation, Alan (and knovella's). The paperback isn't out till October, so it'll have to wait until then - at almost 1,000 pages, the hardback is a no-no...
I don't want to discourage you, John, but The Snowball was what is known as this year's "business class" book -- i.e. in January and February, just about every business class passenger unpacked the book on the plane (it was the overwhelming favorite gift for executives), put it in the seat pocket and then ignored it. Sort of a business version of Stephen Hocking and the Universe -- much bought, much unread. Certainly, Buffett's personal story is interesting, but there are better versions of what produced the crisis.
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Old 21st Aug 2009, 17:56   #7
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Default Re: The Snowball--Warren Buffett, plus Plimpton

Hm. The kind of book that business executives don't read is exactly the kind of book I want to be a part of. But in any event, given its length, I will not be hard to discourage. I will take a look at it when it arrives.
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Old 21st Aug 2009, 21:41   #8
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Default Re: The Snowball--Warren Buffett, plus Plimpton

John: The reason they don't read it is that it doesn't tell them anything they don't already know, not that it confronts their assumptions. Once Mrs. KFC gets home, I'll serve up some alternatives.
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Old 21st Aug 2009, 21:55   #9
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Default Re: The Snowball--Warren Buffett, plus Plimpton

Here we go, with I think more useful critical books:

1. House of Cards, A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street
2. A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Failure of Lehman Brothers
3. Fool's Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P.Morgan was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe

You will note, correctly, that business books seem to feel a need to summarize contents in the sub-title, but that is a fault of the genre.

Buffett's book is fine as a historical reminder of what was and he is certainly continuing to do well at the game -- but I suspect you would not find it worth the page count. The other three -- especially House of Cards -- expain what happened.
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Old 21st Aug 2009, 22:00   #10
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Default Re: The Snowball--Warren Buffett, plus Plimpton

Thanks for the recommendations Kevin. I must admit though that I didn't want to read The Snowball because it gives an analysis of what went wrong with the financial system, but because two people whose tastes I'd wager are fairly different - knovella and Alan - both rate it so highly. The subject matter, in a sense, is irrelevant - indeed, it's a book I would never consider reading otherwise.

I also suspect that because it was published a year ago, and was not a book about the crash, but was the product presumably of many years' research and work, it might be rather better written than other rush-jobs.

Does all that make sense? Do these titles above come personally recommended by you Kevin, or indeed by Mrs KFC?
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