FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE BESTSELLING BIOGRAPHIES OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AND ALBERT EINSTEIN, THIS IS THE EXCLUSIVE BIOGRAPHY OF STEVE JOBS.
Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.
At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.
Although 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 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.
Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple’s hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.read more
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The book follow's Steve Job's personal life, which is to say it talks about his beloved company, Apple throughout, since Jobs' modus operandi at Apple has been part of Steve's DNA from the moment his adoptive father showed him that design excellence means getting even the details that nobody sees well crafted. The first half of the book talks about his biological parents and how he came to be adopted. Then about his adoptive parents and his early childhood and propensity for getting into trouble at school, mostly because he was so clever that he was easily bored. Then comes the friendship with Steve Wozniak with who Jobs created the first Apple computer. Wozniak was another genius, and passionate about engineering. Things get very technical to explain their early experimentation with electronics, as we're taken through the process of how the first Apple computer came to be, then the Apple II, then the Lisa, and finally the Macintosh, all created when Jobs was still in his early 20s. To show just how integral Apple was to his life and what a complex personality Jobs was, he named the Lisa after a daughter he had more or less abandoned in his early 20s. His personal life was messy. He studied Zen Buddhism from his late teens, adopted all kinds of extreme vegan diets, experimented a lot with LSD, did the whole India thing, and all these experiences somehow became connected to the products he created. How and why he was ousted from Apple in the 80s is discussed at length and in great detail, with countless quotes and bits of dialogue from many of the players involved, which to me ended up sounding more than anything like office politics being discussed around the water cooler. I've never been a water cooler kind of person, so found that part very irritating. Eventually in the second half, we get to Steve returning to Apple after several failures and the timeline continues to cover both his personal life and the inventions and products he created with the iPod, iTunes, the iTunes store, the Apple stores (which were thought by some analysts to fail miserably after one year), then the creation of the iPhone and finally, the iPad and the iCloud. Of course the last chapters examine his cancer and treatments, and how he eventually came to succumb to the illness. If you, like me, are interested to learn about the thinking behind these revolutionary products, this book is just the ticket for you. If you want a book with plenty of quotes and comments from people who knew and worked with Steve Jobs, along with plenty of comments from the horse's mouth, again, this is the book to go to. I found the evolution of the thinking behind each product and how it came to be designed and produced to be fascinating. But. For the first half of the book, I kept wondering why I was even bothering with it. Jobs comes off as one of the most unlikeable people imaginable. It may be that he was as unpleasant as portrayed, but I found it strange that he didn't seem to have a single redeeming quality, save for his focus on perfection. His personal charm was mentioned casually as just another tool in his arsenal, another means to an end, when the bullying had run it's course. I wish I'd kept track of amount of times the term Reality Distortion Field was mentioned. As says on wikipedia: "RDF was said to distort an audience's sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and made them believe that the task at hand was possible. While RDF has been criticized as anti-reality, those close to Jobs have also illustrated numerous instances in which creating the sense that the seemingly impossible was possible led to the impossible being accomplished." I got the point the first and tenth and fiftieth time.I suppose that Isaacson wanted to be true to Steve Jobs' manner of expression, so the entire book was filled wall to wall with expletives. Although I'm a big fan of Apple products, I don't have a particular bias towards Job; but what grated on me was that his brand of genius as a visionary with faultless design sense and a brilliant marketer didn't seem to carry much weight. Imagine someone writing about Picasso and focusing most of all on what a horrid man he was to others with offhanded mentions of what a brilliant artist he was. Comparing Jobs to Picasso might not be entirely appropriate, but it's undeniable that both men left a legacy that did, and will outlive them both. Yet, Jobs, ever the control freak, repeatedly told Isaacson he would not ask to see the manuscript and would not read the book when it was published, saying he knew there was a lot of it he wouldn't like, but trusting the author would write an accurate portrayal of him. To me, that speaks of a man who accepts himself with all his foibles, and that alone is a quality worthy of admiration.read more
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