About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Snowball – Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

8. - 521.) The Snowball – Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder – Over 800 pages on the life of the greatest investor of the 20th Century who continues to set the standard in the 21st Century. Born in Omaha in 1930 Buffett had, as a child, passions for numbers, collecting, making money, saving and working hard. These passions have never dimmed. His mother, Leila, had frequent emotional rages against Warren and his older sister, Doris, that left them emotionally scarred for life. His father was affectionate and a far right Republican member of the House. (Howard was a founding member of the John Birch Society.) Warren’s work ethic was early illustrated by his rising between 4:00 to 5:00 in the morning to deliver newspapers. He kept track of his earnings and started investing as a teenager. He bought a small farm while in his teens. He was fascinated by the challenge of investing. He must have had a near photographic memory being able to read his texts at the beginning of the semester and not looking at them again. He came to love ping pong. His lifetime eating habits are framed by his statement that he does not eat anything that a 3 year old would not eat. His primary food group is the hamburger. He does love steaks (rare T-bones at Gorat’s) but little else. As a teenager he haunted racetracks “stooping” for discarded winning tickets but more importantly figuring out odds. He became an excellent ping pong player. He learned valuable lessons for investing including no one goes home after the first race and you do not have to make it back the way you lost it. He worked for his hero, Ben Graham, until he retired from the investment business when he returned to Omaha and started setting up investment partnerships in which he customarily took half the gains above 4% and a quarter of the losses. For those who invested $1,000 and let it ride their money turned into $36,000,000 in 2006! He carried on the business by himself out of his house typing his own letters for a few years. He read financial information almost obsessively. There were a significant number of American companies raised on the desperation of the 1930’s who had assets, often cash, that equaled or exceeded their share value. He searched them out across the country. As he built on his successes he linked up with Charlie Munger from Los Angeles. The plain spoken lawyer and Warren became good friends and colleagues. Later he became a very good friend of Bill Gates. Always with the ability to move quickly he had a patience when he was convinced a company or trend was in place to wait for an investment or area of investment to prosper. If you want to invest your own money he demonstrates the need to extensively and continually study and assess financial information to make profitable investments. When the stock market became too expensive for him he looked to buy good companies. Every investment is examined on whether it is a great company and whether there is a margin of safety. The book was one of the easiest 900 page reads of my life. Even knowing the outlines of the story I eagerly looked forward to the next page. I accelerated through the book. One of the best biographies I have ever read. Excellent. (Feb. 21/10) (Best non-fiction of 2010).

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