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The Making of an American Capitalist

By Roger Lowenstein
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  • Contains 7 key ideas
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Buffett by Roger Lowenstein

Buffett (1995) tells the tale of Warren Buffett, from his humble beginnings as a boy with a paper route for the Washington Post to his success as one of the newspaper’s largest shareholder. But of course, that’s not all. Today, Warren Buffett is one of the world’s wealthiest people and one of its biggest philanthropists. Find out how he got there, and how he applies his unique mix of hard work, consistency and frugality.

Key idea 1 of 7

Warren Buffett grew up in the Midwestern city of Omaha, Nebraska. Money was often on his mind.

Warren Edward Buffett was born to Howard and Leila Buffett on August 30, 1930, at a time when many families were facing an uncertain future.

As a child of the Great Depression, young Warren learned the value of money.

In 1932, when the Depression hit Warren’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, his father lost his job as a securities salesman for a local bank. But his dad was resourceful and soon began his own company, selling safe and reliable stocks and bonds.

Earnings were meager. Indeed, they could afford so little food that Warren’s mother would often give her portion to Howard so that he would have a decent meal.

These difficult times left a lasting impression on Warren Buffett, and fueled his desire for the kind of security and stability that money can buy. Even though his father’s business became successful when Warren was six, he never forgot those early Depression years.

It wasn’t long before Warren’s interest in investment and entrepreneurship revealed itself.

He always looked forward to visiting his father’s office, and, when Warren was ten, Howard took him on an exciting business trip to New York, where they visited the Stock Exchange.

A year later, when he was eleven, Warren made his first profit by buying and selling stocks along with his sister, Doris.

To afford these stocks, Warren had undertaken many entrepreneurial activities, such as roaming the local golf course to collect lost golf balls and then selling them back to the owner.

At the age of 14, Warren was in charge of five separate paper routes, which had him getting up early every morning, delivering papers and collecting subscription fees.

By saving every cent he made, Warren purchased 40 acres of land for $1,200. He wasn’t yet fifteen.

Warren was no slouch at school, either. He graduated in the top three percent and enrolled at the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, in Pennsylvania, where his love of money would only grow.

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