Michael Lewis takes down Warren Buffett

By Felix Salmon
May 18, 2009

Michael Lewis has done it again, this time with a monster 4,700-word book review of Alice Schroeder’s biography of Warren Buffett. (Of course, it’s much less of a monster than the 838-page book itself, and it’s much more readable than Schroeder’s ridiculously overspecific prose.)

Lewis is no fan of Buffett’s, and dwells in his review on many of the investor’s weaknesses: his juvenile shoplifting, his dysfunctional family life, his “diet of an eight-year-old”. He even explains why he thinks that “there has never been a better time to bet against Warren Buffett” — not that Lewis himself is about to do so.

Lewis says that Buffett is unhappy with Schroeder’s book; he’ll be much less happy with this article, I’m sure. But of course Buffett won’t respond directly; he’ll just schedule another marathon interview session on CNBC and revel in the adoration of the cameras and the anchors. He might not be loved by his family, but he’s good at finding people who love him in the world of financial media.

Update: To clear up a bit of confusion, yes, the Lewis piece bends over backwards to claim that it isn’t a takedown. But it is. It’s much harsher on Buffett than the book it’s ostensibly a review of, and the reader is left with a distinctly unpleasant impression of Buffett.

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