Title: Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography
Author: Walter Isaacson
Genre: Biography, Business
First Publication: 2011
Book Summary: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Based on more than forty interviews with Steve Jobs conducted over two years – as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues – this is the acclaimed, internationally bestselling biography of the ultimate icon of inventiveness, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.
Walter Isaacson tells the story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies,music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.
Although Steve Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written, nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Steve Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.
Book Review: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
I knew that I would enjoy this book after reading the first few pages, but it far exceeded my expectations. I love learning the history behind products that I am familiar with, and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson lays out the history of every product Steve Job’s is responsible for.
“Picasso had a saying – ‘good artists copy, great artists steal’ – and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”
Laurene Powell, Jobs’ wife, told Isaacson that she didn’t want her husband’s life whitewashed, and he certainly didn’t. Along with Steve the brilliant innovator who knew how to bring together an A-list team of loyal employees, we get Steve Jobs the rude man who will proclaim a product or food or wedding invitation as “sh*t” and then walk away with a clear conscience; Steve Jobs the man who has no qualms about crying in front of others if he doesn’t get his way or is overburdened; Steve Jobs the selfish man who doesn’t bother to remember birthdays or anniversaries; And Steve Jobs the lousy father who denied fathering his first daughter for the first six years of her life, and who wasn’t there much for his three children with Powell.
“If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you’ve done and whoever you were and throw them away. The more the outside world tries to reinforce an image of you, the harder it is to continue to be an artist, which is why a lot of times, artists have to say, “Bye. I have to go. I’m going crazy and I’m getting out of here.” And they go and hibernate somewhere. Maybe later they re-emerge a little differently.”- Steve Jobs
I was surprised when I learned that Steve Jobs was not only cooperating with Walter Isaacson on this book, but Steve Jobs approached Walter Isaacson to write this biography. Steve explained that it was because he wanted his children to truly know their father, and I’m so glad that I got to know him, too. The book was published 19 days after Jobs death in October 2011. There was a lot to his story to pack into 577 pages. 90% of the book covers Job’s professional career which is quite riveting to read. The latter pages of the book were not especially well crafted. This tapering off of quality is understandable since Isaacson was in the midst of writing a story about a man and company that were rapidly changing.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
In a strange dichotomy while I didn’t find the book to be objective it was at the same time unsympathetic to Steve Jobs. Jobs was an irascible tyrant and could be quite cruel to those around him when it came to Apple’s products and Apple’s vision. Steve Jobs was a perfectionist and genius revered by many people close to him. Not holding back Jobs told Walter Isaacson to write whatever he wanted and that he would not interfere.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is unique in its description of industrial design and products. There are literally hundreds of pages on this topic. One cannot decouple the industrial design decisions from Steve Jobs. I don’t think there is any other biography where I would care about the myriad of products presented here but somehow it works really well. In effect Apple is the legacy of Steve Jobs.