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iCon Steve Jobs: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business Hardcover – May 23, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0471720836 ISBN-10: 0471720836 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (May 23, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471720836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471720836
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,079,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“……recommends it highly to all business readers…” (Financial Times, 16th January 2006)

"...the writing is savvy and lively...even readers with a scant interest in computers, technology or animated movies will find the tale entertaining..." (, 29 Aug. 2005)

"...a story of the personalities behind the facts and figures...includes some interesting personal touches..." (Liverpool Daily Post, 22nd June 2005)

“…rich in anecdotes and retellings of turning points in the lives of Jobs, Apple and Pixar…” (Information Age, 1st August 2005)

"...the authors paint a vivid picture of Jobs as an occasional genius and a regular jerk. All of which makes for gripping reading for any Mac fan..." (icreate, July-December 2005)

“…Young and Simon are particularly good at telling the inside story…” (Belfast Sunday Life, 3 July 2005)

“…new perspectives on the creation of Apple…details Jobs’s meteoric rise, fall and rise again…” (Moneywise, June 2005)

“…a well-balanced look at an incredible life. The achievements are all catalogued in full, as are the personal idiosyncrasies and shortcomings…” (Glasgow Sunday Herald, June 19 2005)

"Provides insight into inner businer business strategies and power plays between larger-than-life personalities such as Disney boss Michael Eisner." (USA Today)

Apparently, this book hit a nerve. Or several.
According to media reports, Apple Computer removed all of the titles published by John Wiley & Sons from its retail stores to protest this book. Included were the successful Dummies series, as well as computer-related volumes from popular authors Andy Ihnatko and Bob LeVitus.
So what's the fuss?
This biography of Apple's co-founder is fairly well balanced. The authors keenly admire Jobs despite the many personal shortcomings they catalog, gleefully referring to sundry over-the-top idiosyncrasies as examples of Jobs' ''Stevian'' hubris.
But there's much to admire about Jobs. An adopted child of a northern California working class couple, he parlayed rabid curiosity about electronics, preternatural entrepreneurial zeal and a fierce sense of self into a partnership with the brilliant Steve Wozniak and created the revolutionary Apple II, the first popular personal computer.
The pair became multimillionaires, though Wozniak eventually left the company to pursue other interests -- including flying small airplanes -- after nearly dying in a plane crash.
Jobs subsequently latched onto and took over a wayward project at Apple to develop the next generation machine, and the resulting Macintosh became the computer of choice for artists and other creative folks.
Jobs' prickly personality and immense ambition may have helped drive his success but also fueled clashes with executives, board members and others, and led to his forced departure from the company he co-founded.
That was Jobs' wild first act.
But authors Jeffrey Young and William Simon also chronicle what came next.
After leaving Apple, Jobs' new computer company, NeXT, was a near-disaster. Though technologically advanced, the box was expensive and ill suited for its intended market, universities. Still, the operating system held great promise and the possibility for Jobs' return to the spotlight.
When divorce forced Star Wars auteur George Lucas to sell off his nascent computer animation company, Pixar, Jobs scooped it up at a fraction of the asking price. Soon, the production company allied with Disney and became a creative powerhouse in its own right, with smash films, Toy Story and Finding Nemo.
When Pixar went public, Jobs became a billionaire. At the same time, Apple was having a rough time with its latest CEO, Gil Amelio, who slashed costs, consolidated product lines and seemed to be on the verge of turning the company around despite a lack of ''Stevian'' political prowess.
His search for an appropriate operating system for a new, more powerful Macintosh attracted Jobs' attention. His NeXT software was the ticket back to Apple. After some deft machinations, Amelio was sent packing and Jobs became ''interim'' CEO.
Soon, some new, very cool computers were introduced by Apple and the company was again deemed successful and sexy, though Young and Simon suggest that Jobs was the beneficiary of the departed Amelio's cost-cutting and new product development initiatives.
Regardless, Jobs struck gold again with the introduction of the iPod music player, and the ''interim'' was removed from his title.
The biography includes many personal details that surely embarrass Jobs, such as his early abandonment of a daughter born to an unmarried girlfriend (both of whom he later reconciled with and supported), along with endless examples of pride, egotism, venality, ruthlessness and conceit.
But it's still an interesting and engaging tale. Warts and all, for better or worse, Steve Jobs is undisputedly an American business icon. (Miami Herald, June 6, 2005)

"One of the most captivating business biographies of recent years. Young and Simon have done a masterful job." (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

"A fascinating tale of an imaginative genius." (BookPage)


"My books are about the secret lives of hackers. This book is about the secret life of maybe the most influential person in technology. Who else can you think of that has put his stamp on three industries – computers, music, and movie animation? Once you start reading, you won’t want to put it down."-- Kevin Mitnick, security consultant,, author of The Art of Deception and The Art of Intrusion

"Assembling the artifacts and stories to showcase the achievements of man is the work of museums like ours. But history also relies on authors like Young and Simon, who have done a memorable job compiling the biography of Steven Jobs from conversations with the people who have been players with this extraordinary technology pioneer. And this book is a fascinating read as well."-- John Toole, executive director and CEO, Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California

"During the high-tech boom years when Steve Jobs gained global recognition, I was on the Silicon Valley scene to witness his rise to fame. We all admired his genius and became aware of his flaws, as well. You won’t want to miss this absorbing behind-the-scenes story." -- Steve Westly, controller of the state of California, former senior vice president, eBay

"If technology was a competitive sport, Steve Jobs would be a combination of an NBA misbehaving superstar and an NHL player who high-sticks opponents whenever he thinks they’ve treated him badly. But he’d also be MVP. Fascinating and unforgettable." -- Carol Mitch, Best Damn Sports Show Period

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Customer Reviews

Book was a fun easy read.
Well, this is my first book about the behind story about Steve Jobs and Apple and I found it fascinating.
This book is just a waste of paper.
Book buyer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 112 people found the following review helpful By T. Tom TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a former employee of Apple, Disney and Lucasfilm ILM and a lover of Apple's industrial design, I found this book a fascinating read. In fact, once I started it, I had trouble putting it down!

There are a few factual errors that surprised me. Example- about a third of the way into the book, it is incorrectly stated that Ridley Scott directed the movie "Aliens". Strange because later on in the book the authors correctly state that James Cameron was the director. Ridley Scott directed the first movie, "Alien".

The book also talks about Pixar being located in Emeryville California around the time Toy Story came out. In fact, Pixar was in Point Richmond and moved to Emeryville years later. Pointing out these errors might seem like nitpicking but since these errors are fairly simple to check on, it leads me to believe that there might be other factual errors throughout the book as well. In other words, you probably shouldn't believe everything you read in this book.

That said, I still found this book a great read. If you are interested in business, technology and animation or want to gleen a window into the way Steve Jobs' mind operates, you should read this book.
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64 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Peter W on October 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
While an entertaining read, the author injects too much venom to make this a balanced story. The author repeatedly attaches motives, emotions, etc to Jobs without attribution as if he divined Jobs inner spirit. The book also seriously understates Jobs business accomplishments in terms of the growth of Apple Computers, the success of NeXT (let's remember that Jobs NeXT for $400M), and the amazing success of Pixar. Only at the end of the book, does Young casually mention that Jobs sunk $50-$60M of his personal money in Pixar before it became a success.

The author's basic premise is that Jobs is a con (hence the title), and that his success was stolen from Woz, Lasseter, and the brilliant engineers at NeXT. The problem is that facts don't support his hatchet-job approach.

If you are looking for an amateurish psychoanalysis of Steve Jobs, then this is your book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Pinonuar on April 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a poorly written book. It is biassed toward Steve Jobs and tries to be sensational by exaggerating some events. There are sentences, which are very unfair to Mr. Jobs.

One third of the book is about Disney Corp. !! Why should we read about the fight in Disney Management in so much detail? It could have been explained in few sentences.

The second act of Steve Jobs is poorly written. The stories are taken from magazines. The book doesn't inform us about the new management team at Apple and their relations with Steve Jobs. I am disappointed.

Therefore, don't waste your time and paper. There must be better books about the second act.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By F. Schwartz on August 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I paid good money for this "bewk" (I support brick-and-mortar local stores as well as Amazon!) but found it to be recycled tabloid garbage. Having said that, I confess it had me turning pages very quickly. Each time I hunted for some insight into the Man Behind The Mac, I stumbled upon some awkward "mindreading" of Jobs as he storms through the Clinton White House into obscurity and comes back looking like the Wizard of Oz in flaming technicolour, holding his little "data bucket" (the iPod) up as if it were the Royal Orb!

No such insights, folks. I did a better job in this review than either author of "iCon"! This is a sad excuse for an _unauthorized_ biography, complete with ancient pictures in muddy black and white, surrounded by a sloppy rehash of earlier attempts to capture Jobs between two covers.

Get it for $.01 cent when you qualify for an Amazon Visa... another terrific promotional idea! In our great Land of Competition for the Almighty Buck, such wizards as Jobs are far too elusive and protective of their private lives to be lured into the overheated glare of MSNBC, Vanity Fair, or the Enquirer.

I say save your dough; Jobs is bound to outlive the pitiful authors of this crappy "effort".
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful By John Childs-Eddy on June 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When I first sat down with this book I was EXCITED!

Steve Jobs is sinonymous with Apple, Pixar & the iPod... and as a budding entrepreneur myself, I couldn't wait to learn all about Steve and his philosophy's in business...

However, the author of this book has been disinclined to engage the story of Jobs in an objective way. Instead he is apt to report the story in much the same way the national enquirer might have done it "Apple employee aghast! Jobs washes his feet in toilet to relax at the end of a hard day..."

The petiness that the author bothers to report is quite staggering => the gossip doesn't end with Jobs!

In fact, if you want to hear all about who said what to whom and when, this book will amaze and delight you.

On the other hand, if you want an objective look at an American Icon while learning some business lessons along the way...

Don't bother.
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51 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Scott Sterner on May 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've long been intrigued by the Steve Jobs story as well as the early days of company-building and conflict between he and Bill Gates. This book is a real page-turner as it explores the connection between the technology, consumer-focused brand building and the psyche of the man behind it all. Jobs is a fascinating character and the author's representation of his story is better than fiction.

Another new book I enjoyed recently which has fun analysis of public figures is "The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book." This one also has a cool online application that lets you test your emotional intelligence and learn about it via clips from movies. Fun stuff.
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