Berkshire Hathaway 1994 Annual Meeting Audience Question # 26

Warren and Charlie shares their book recommendations

Warren Buffett:

Zone 1.

Audience Member:

Clayton Riley from Jacksonville, Florida.

This is a little different than all the other questions, but what were the three best books you read last year outside of the investment field? Why don’t… even one will do.

Warren Buffett:

I’ll give you… I’ll tout a book first that I’ve read but that isn’t available yet.

But it will be in September.

The woman who wrote it, I believe, is in the audience and it’s Ben Graham’s biography, which will be available in September, by Janet Lowe (“Benjamin Graham on Value Investing: Lessons from the Dean of Wall Street” – you can get a copy of the book here). And I’ve read it and I think those of you who are interested in investments, for sure, will enjoy it. She’s done a good job of capturing Ben.

One of the books I enjoyed a lot was written also by a shareholder who is not here because he’s being sworn in, I believe today or tomorrow, maybe tomorrow, as head of the Voice of America.

And that’s Geoff Cowan’s book, which is on “The People v. Clarence Darrow.” (you can get a copy of the book here). It’s the story of the Clarence Darrow trial for, essentially, jury bribery in Los Angeles back around 1912, when the McNamara brothers had bombed the LA Times.

It’s a fascinating book. Geoff uncovered a lot of information that the previous biographies of Darrow didn’t have. I think you’d enjoy that.

Charlie?

Charlie Munger:

Well, I very much enjoyed Connie Bruck’s biography “Master of the Game” (you can get a copy of the book here), which was a biography of Steve Ross, who headed Warner and later was, what, co-chairman of Time Warner.

Warren Buffett:

Yeah, he’s a little more than co-chairman.

Charlie Munger:

Yeah, and… she’s a very insightful writer and it’s a very interesting story.

I am rereading a book I really like, which is Van Doren’s biography of Benjamin Franklin (you can get a copy of the book here), which came out in 1952, and I’d almost forgotten how good a book it was. And that’s available in paperback everywhere. We’ve never had anybody quite like Franklin in this country. Never again.

Warren Buffett:

He believed in compound interest, too, incidentally, as you may remember.

What did he… he set up those two little funds, one in Philadelphia, one in Boston?

Charlie Munger:

Right.

Warren Buffett:

Yeah, to demonstrate the advantages of compound interest. I think that’s the part Charlie’s rereading.

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