The following is a review by Nick Murray of the new (fourth) edition of The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, which he kindly is allowing to be shared beyond the subscribers to his fine investment newsletter.
To mark the fiftieth anniversary of Berkshire Hathaway under the leadership of Warren Buffett, the redoubtable Lawrence Cunningham—in his own way, Buffett’s ablest biographer—has released a new fourth edition of his classic book The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America.
As with the earlier editions, it is something to be treasured by the evolved advisor, not merely in her role as a capital allocator but as a philosopher of the economy and even as a moral leader to clients.
In addition to a perceptive and nuanced understanding of Buffett’s annual letters, the genius of Professor Cunningham has been to edit the material thematically, so that we may find related observations down the years brought together. This is not merely a collection of Buffett’s Greatest Hits, but a systematic and rigorous examination of his important themes.
Nor does Professor Cunningham fail to honor his subject as a prose stylist, though this is by far Buffett’s least appreciated gift. In his own unaffected, colloquial, Midwestern style, Buffett at his best is an essayist on a par with Emerson and even Montaigne, and this quality shines through The Essays as it does nowhere else.
The enduring irony of Warren Buffett’s career as perhaps the greatest capital allocator who ever lived is that he remains at once the world’s most admired and least imitated investor. Professor Cunningham’s is thus a book to be read slowly over time—to be tasted and pondered by the advisor almost as a program of daily reflections. I cannot recommend it too highly.