Warren Buffett "Preaches" to 1999's Internet Elite About Fundamental Stock Market Truths


The first authorized biography of Warren Buffett goes on sale Monday, September 29, and it could very well be the biggest business book of the year, both in sales and weight. (At 976 pages, the hardcover edition weighs in at three pounds, 6.5 ounces.)

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life was written by former Morgan Stanley insurance analyst Alice Schroeder, after what's described as "unprecedented access to explore directly with him and those closest to him his work, opinions, struggles, triumphs, follies, and wisdom."

Bantam Dell's website for the book promises, "Unlike any book ever written about Mr. Buffett or derived from his words, this book will be both a life story, and a biography of ideas."

A Buffett quote is also featured prominently: "Life is like a snowball. The important thing is finding wet snow and a really long hill."

In a video clip posted by the publisher on YouTube this week, Schroeder talks about the title and how she wound up writing the book. Her goal: use excerpts from her hundreds of hours of formal interviews with Buffett to give "the reader an intimate experience of being with him, so you feel you've sat down and had a nice, long leisurely dinner with Warren Buffett."

Alice Schroeder, author of Bantam Dell's
Marion Ettlinger
Alice Schroeder, author of Bantam Dell's

Bantam Dell has also posted a couple of excerpts from the first two chapters of the book, including Buffett's request to Schroeder that, "Whenever my version is different from somebody else’s, Alice, use the less flattering version."

A lengthier chunk from the second chapter describes in great detail how Buffett "preached" in 1999 to an audience at Herb Allen's Sun Valley conference. Many of the people in the room had amassed vast paper profits from stocks shooting ever higher in the Internet boom. Buffett wasn't playing that game, and some of the younger people in the audience thought he was stuck in the past, unable to understand that this time it would be 'different.'

Buffett's message: "There was no new paradigm ... Ultimately, the value of the stock market could only reflect the output of the economy."

It's a fascinating read.

Schroeder will be interviewed live on CNBC's Power Lunch this coming Tuesday, September 30 around 1p ET.

We'd like to know what you would ask her. Use the form below to send us your suggested questions. I'll send you a copy of The Snowball if we wind up using one of your's. (A reminder that these questions are not for Warren Buffett himself. They are for the woman who wrote his new biography. Sorry, but we won't be able to reply to any questions beyond those that are used on the air.)

A reminder that you can keep up with the entire world of business books with CNBC.com's Bullish on Booksblog, written by my longtime colleague Gloria McDonough-Taub. Her latest post notes how the current crisis on Wall Street is getting attention from publishers.

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