Books: Is Buffett beyond criticism?

This is as close to an autobiography as the stock market maestro's fans will get, says an admiring John McLaren. But some awkward questions go unasked...

If Gordon Brown has had a good war with his wheeze of sticking bucket-loads of our cash into wobbly banks, he could at least admit where he got that big idea from. I have it on the best possible authority that all the talk in the Treasury and at Number 10 was of Warren Buffett's investment in Goldman Sachs. The Oracle of Omaha had struck again.

There have probably never been so many Buffett groupies, and The Snowball is the nearest they'll get to his autobiography. Indeed, in some ways it's better, since Buffett offered Alice Schroeder unlimited access, and, even if he'd been tempted to pick up the pen himself, it's unlikely that he would have had the time to compile 960 pages.

You get microscopic detail on his background, his mildly improbable menage, his business deals and philosophy - the lot. Schroeder's style is attractive, unstuffy. She dodges the accusation of blatant hagiography by throwing in the odd critical remark, but it still reads like the way you might candidly discuss your boss - if you knew he was listening in. But this is a well-executed big book on a subject whose record demands attention.

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