Isaacson gives the Steve Jobs fairy tale a swift, full, and less than utterly flattering airing in a book that Jobs authorized himself and from whose stark white and black Apple-like cover he stares like a Zen digital master ... The list of acknowledged sources is a who’s who of shakers and movers, and Isaacson weaves these voices together to guide and flesh out a narrative whose lineaments are already feeling like part of our cultural DNA ... It’s great stuff, and the communicated thrill of work and invention brings Steve Jobs to life. Sometimes, as when Bono twitters on about the birth of the snazzy black U2 iPod, pages descend into drooling celeb-chat. Generally, though, Isaacson sidesteps that sinkhole, and if what the reader gets feels like oral history as much as considered biographical judgment, that’s actually all to the good. The books asking whether Jobs was really a Da Vinci, or an Einstein, or a Howard Hughes or Citizen Kane are doubtless already trundling down the pipe, but this one will always feel necessary. Its very unmediated quality turns it almost into original source.
His story calls for a book that is clear, elegant and concise enough to qualify as an iBio. Mr. Isaacson’s Steve Jobs does its solid best to hit that target ... Mr. Isaacson treats Steve Jobs as the biography of record, which means that it is a strange book to read so soon after its subject’s death. Some of it is an essential Silicon Valley chronicle, compiling stories well known to tech aficionados but interesting to a broad audience. Some of it is already quaint ... So Steve Jobs, an account of its subject’s 56 years, must reach across time in more ways than one. And it does, in a well-ordered, if not streamlined, fashion ... Its most adulatory passages are not about people. Offering a combination of tech criticism and promotional hype, Mr. Isaacson describes the arrival of each new product right down to Mr. Jobs’s theatrical introductions and the advertising campaigns. But if the individual bits of hoopla seem excessive, their cumulative effect is staggering.
As Isaacson makes clear, Jobs wasn't a visionary or even a particularly talented electronic engineer. But he was a businessman of astonishing flair and focus, a marketing genius, and – when he was getting it right, which wasn't always – had an intuitive sense of what the customer would want before the customer had any idea ... But its sheer bulk bespeaks a sort of reverence, and it's clear from the way it's put together that there's not much Jobs did that Isaacson doesn't regard as vital to the historical record ... Isaacson writes dutiful, lumbering American news-mag journalese and suffers – as did Jobs himself – from a lack of sense of proportion ... Jobs's personal life is sketchily covered, but what details there are don't charm.
...in some respects, Steve Jobs is a book told through the often discussed 'reality distortion field' of Steve Jobs himself: though other opinions or sides to a story are presented, Steve always has the last, blunt word ... Given the unprecedented access to Jobs and his blessing to interview those close to him presents the reader with a vast and exceedingly complex — but also incredibly consistent — portrait of the man who created Apple and some of the most important technology products of this century ... Isaacson’s mastery of the form is evident throughout, and he weaves the tale of Jobs’s life deftly ... There are no shocking revelations, but the nuance brought to the events by the wide array of characters Isaacson spent time with, and Jobs’s candid and original perspective, never fail to bring well-known events into sharp and personal focus ... Rather than exposing Jobs an 'asshole,' the biography presents, front to back, a human being who was essentially incapable of being phony, even if doing so would make him appear better to others.
Though Isaacson deeply admires his subject’s achievements, they are in constant danger of being eclipsed by the arresting ghastliness of the character that accompanied them. Because Jobs, as this account mercilessly attests, could be a world-class asshole: and after the gushing obituaries, breathless tributes and comparisons to Leonardo, Edison and Elvis that attended his death this month, that is news ... Isaacson organises his material well and writes with a pacy, demotic style, though the speed with which this book was rushed out after Jobs’s death is occasionally noticeable at the copy-editing level. There are moments of poor discrimination — a sterner editorial eye on the segments about office design might have been desirable, for example — and Isaacson’s choice of rousing chapter titles from Shakespeare, Dylan, Yeats and the Beatles seems laughably pompous ... Taken as a whole, though, this is a riveting book, with as much to say about the transformation of modern life in the information age as about its supernaturally gifted and driven subject.
While there is something endearing about the passions stirred, they suggest the limitations of writing a book about a contemporary figure and making claims for his place among the great men and women in history. Even though Isaacson has written what appears to be a scrupulously fair chronicle of Jobs’s work life, he is in no better position than any of us to know where, in the annals of innovation, that life will end up ... Steve Jobs cried a lot. This is one of the salient facts about his subject that Isaacson reveals, and it is salient not because it shows Jobs’s emotional depth, but because it is an example of his stunted character. Steve Jobs cried when he didn’t get his own way. He was a bully, a dissembler, a cheapskate, a deadbeat dad, a manipulator, and sometimes he was very nice. Isaacson does not shy away from any of this, and the trouble is that Jobs comes across as such a repellent man, cruel even to his best friend Steve Wozniak, derisive of almost everyone, ruthless to people who thought they were his friends, indifferent to his daughters, that the book is often hard to read.
Even if you have no interest at all in the lives of businessmen, this is worth reading, and no surprise it's the number one bestseller in the US. It's a - literally - epic story, superbly told by Isaacson with none of the breathlessness of the usual boring hatchet-faced Chief Executive's Tale.
Isaacson’s biography can be read in several ways. It is on the one hand a history of the most exciting time in the age of computers, when the machines first became personal and later, fashionable accessories. It is also a textbook study of the rise and fall and rise of Apple and the brutal clashes that destroyed friendships and careers. And it is a gadget lover’s dream, with fabulous, inside accounts of how the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone and iPad came into being ... But more than anything, Isaacson has crafted a biography of a complicated, peculiar personality — Jobs was charming, loathsome, lovable, obsessive, maddening — and the author shows how Jobs’s character was instrumental in shaping some of the greatest technological innovations of our time.
Walter Isaacson's timely authorized biography will probably contribute to this obsession rather than explain it ... But for those curious about this iconic figure - which in the past month has seemed to include just about everyone - Steve Jobs provides an irresistible glimpse into his complex and often contradictory life ... But here Isaacson, like all biographers, is faced with the fact that reality does not have a plot. Our lives break all the rules of good storytelling: There are too many tangents, characters inexplicably appear and disappear, and the pacing, far too often, is all wrong. These challenges begin to catch up with Isaacson in the second half of the book, just as Jobs' career moves from the merely extraordinary to the genuinely unprecedented ... What had been a mostly linear narrative of Jobs growing up and founding Apple inevitably begins to splinter ... Isaacson seems more at home describing Jobs' eventual triumphs back at Apple, after selling NeXT to the company in 1996 ... Isaacson wisely devotes much of the last third of his book to this astoundingly successful second stint at Apple, surely one of the great corporate turnarounds of all time.
Isaacson’s book is packaged as a eulogy, with lots of family photos and a plain white cover whose Helvetican simplicity is characteristic of Apple’s own designers in Cupertino ... But there is little sycophancy in the text. Isaacson ruthlessly catalogues the shortcomings of a monomaniac whose success allowed him to get away with all kinds of more or less sociopathic behaviour ... For devoted fans of Apple, the climax of Isaacson’s book will be his brief visit to the design studio in Cupertino ... Even Isaacson, who spends so much of this biography as a detached observer, falls into eulogy in the book’s final pages, where he praises the ‘poetry’ and ‘artistry’ of Apple’s products, and says that using them ‘could be as sublime as walking in one of the Zen gardens of Kyoto that Jobs loved.'
In Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson — the former editor of Time who has previously written biographies of Einstein and Franklin — has given us a nuanced portrait of the brilliant, mercurial, complicated genius who rethought and reimagined computers, movies, phones, music, and tablet computers ... If occasionally workmanlike, Isaacson’s thoughtful, broadly-sourced bio is thorough, filling in all the holes in Jobs’ life, especially the years after he returned to Apple ... This is a biography as big as Steve Jobs.
He does a thoughtful and speedy job of getting us to the Apple part of the story ... There is blessedly little psychoanalysis, although Isaacson strangely over-emphasizes a position Jobs once held at an Oregon fruit orchard, while showing how Jobs's post-adoption anxieties affected him throughout his life ... Isaacson tells this story – much of which has been told before, but never in such rich, personal detail – very well ... he has crafted a persuasive, authoritative and unadorned book ... While Isaacson is respectful of the man's accomplishments, there is no sign here of the 'OMG IT'S STEVE JOBS' fan-boyishness that plagues much writing about the charismatic Jobs. Instead, what we have is a nuanced portrait of a complex and difficult man, someone who could inspire subordinates to world-changing products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad; but also someone who forgot family birthdays, denied paternity of his out-of-wedlock daughter for years, and could publicly praise employees as 'geniuses' and then berate them with vulgarities, often in the same conversation ... the first full biography of this flawed and complex man, the first to truly show him in the round.
Journalist Isaacson had his subject's intimate cooperation but doesn't shy away from Jobs's off-putting traits ... The author oversells Jobs as the digital artiste pitting well-crafted, vertically integrated personal computing experiences against the promiscuously licensed, bulk-commodity software profferred by his Microsoft rival Bill Gates. (Gates's acerbic commentary on Jobs's romanticism often steals the page.) Still, Isaacson's exhaustively researched but well-paced, candid and gripping narrative gives us a great warts-and-all portrait of an entrepreneurial spirit—and one of the best accounts yet of the human side of the computer biz.
According to acclaimed biographer and Aspen Institute CEO Isaacson (American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and a Heroes of a Hurricane, 2009, etc.) in this consistently engaging, warts-and-all biography, Jobs was not necessarily the most pleasant boss ... Though the narrative could have used a tighter edit in a few places, Isaacson's portrait of this complex, often unlikable genius is, to quote Jobs, insanely great ... Jobs was an American original, and Isaacson's impeccably researched, vibrant biography—fully endorsed by his subject—does his legacy proud.