A blue-chip biography that not only brings Warren Edward Buffett to vivid life but also pays detailed tribute to the integrity, patience, and acumen that have made the lowkey Nebraskan arguably the greatest investor ever. While Wall Street Journal correspondent Lowenstein was unable to secure Buffett's cooperation, the Midas-touch money manager did not actively oppose the project. Accordingly, the author was able to produce a well-rounded portrait of Buffett with help from his family, friends, and colleagues, as well as the public record. A son of the heartland (and a US congressman who represented a staunchly Republican district in Omaha), the future financier was precociously numerate and interested in the stock market from an early age. At Columbia University's graduate school of business, he studied under Benjamin Graham, an idol whose securities-analysis doctrines remain valid in a global-investment arena where professionals have a range of theories that owe more to computer assistance than common sense. Back in his hometown, Buffett (who turns 65 this year) employed Graham's bedrock principles of value to amass small fortunes for himself and those with enough faith to commit to his private partnerships. Lowenstein provides a coherent account of how Buffett went on to make his current fiefdom (Berkshire Hathaway) the most expensive equity on the New York Stock Exchange, thanks to sizable, shrewdly timed positions in American Express, Capital Cities/ABC, Coca-Cola, and other immensely rewarding issues. Covered as well are Buffett's precious few errors, e.g., a substantive stake in scandal-ridden Salomon Brothers. Nor does the author shy away from Buffett's nontraditional style--notable, among other matters, for a live-in mistress and cordial relations with an earth-mother wife from whom he is separated but not divorced. An engrossing, diligently documented audit of a billionaire who gained great wealth the old-fashioned way, i.e., by earning it.