26 of 34 people found the following review helpful
"Shallow and sloppy",
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This review is from: Steve Jobs (Hardcover)
As another reviewer mentioned, anyone interested in this book needs to listen to John Siracusa's critique on the Hypercritical podcast, episode 42. His list of criticisms is vast and rightfully damning.
The long and short of it is that Issacson ruined a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write a biography with direct access to Steve Jobs. There is no evidence that he made any effort to understand the industry Apple is in, nor the technology it created with Jobs at the helm. The book is riddled with technical errors: getting the name of the company wrong ("Apple Computers"), continuously referring to Mac OS X as "OSX", misattributed photos (one with Jobs and Woz and an Apple II+ is labeled as "in the garage" in "1974", despite the fact that the II+ came out in 1979 and they are obviously sitting in Apple's Cupertino offices), and some quotes attributed to folks like Bill Gates that just sound nonsensical.
Even more damning is that the strongest parts of the book, such as the creation of the original Macintosh, are obviously relying heavily on existing documentation such as Andy Hertzfeld's fantastic Revolution in The Valley [Paperback]: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac Was Made (Otx). Once we get to the era of Job's return to Apple in 1996, the book becomes very superficial. Issacson suddenly switches from a chronological narrative to a product-based one, and we learn virtually nothing new about the creation of some of the most revolutionary products in history (e.g., the iPhone). I found this pretty unforgivable, as this is not only some of the most important technology in history, but also arguably Jobs' greatest triumphs. Really, the books turns into a superficial history of Apple, and not a biography of Jobs. We learn nothing new, which is a grievous sin given Issacson's access to Jobs.
I will admit that the writing is competent, if not inspiring; I tore through the book pretty quickly. But, in the end, I agree with Siracusa that Jobs simply picked the wrong guy for the job. Any reader of this book would do well to listen to Siracusa's critique, and then go hunt down some of the far better books that have been written about Apple.
Steve Jobs cared about the details. This book doesn't. Steve Jobs said Apple lived at the intersection of technology and the humanities. This book should have positioned itself there as well, with powerful writing that demonstrated a mastery of the technical subjects on which it must focus. It does neither. I can only hope that, someday, Siracusa, or perhaps John Gruber, will take up the task of writing a far more insightful, inspiring book about Jobs' life. Steve is one of the giants of our age, and he deserves better.
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Initial post: Dec 16, 2011 9:42:55 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 16, 2011 9:44:23 AM PST
Shallow and sloppy - so accurate, Buzzmo. I will check out John Siracusa's incisive review shortly; than you for the reference. Steve Jobs had to be in really grim shape while Isaacson was pasting this hasty patchwork of a bio together. Perhaps Ms. Powell, Jobs' wife, and Apple's chief of public relations and media wanted the bio thus; you do have to wonder because it so lacks the stuff of physics: electricity and magnetism, n'est-ce pas? Surely Jobs couldn't have been this dreary? Then again, he was mean and nasty and they probably didn't want the booky-wook to trigger any disgruntled lawsuits, always a possibility and a problem when the subject of a bio is in our time.
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