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Customer Review

312 of 362 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary biography of a truly historical, one-of-a-kind man, October 26, 2011
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This review is from: Steve Jobs (Hardcover)
INTRODUCTION
Apple has always meant more to me than as a computer company, because of my early experiences in the late 1970's and early 1980's from age 8 using the Apple ][, //e, and later the Mac. They represented amazing products that I could understand even as a child, that this was the direction of the future. It was odd to me then, that the world was still embracing the MS-DOS command line interface and the IBM PC/AT machines. When in the late 1990's, Apple neared bankruptcy, with Microsoft Windows dominating the market, it taught me as a young man that companies that try to make the very best can be under appreciated by the masses, just as the adults near me in the 1980's could not see the amazing nature of my Apple //e and Mac back then. Good guys, it seemed, do finish last. It was disheartening.

Since the return of Steve Jobs to Apple, the world now knows of his genius and brilliance.

This biography is utterly amazing. I could not stop reading the entire biography and finished in less than 2 days.

WHAT I LIKED
1. Extraordinarily comprehensive - The book covers an immense number of different "phases" of his life from his famous adoption story to the start of Apple Computer, to NeXt, Pixar, love life, development of his iconic products, to the time before his death (although his death is actually never mentioned).
2. Ruthlessly objective - As a fan of Steve Jobs, I cringed at all the negative descriptions of Jobs's conduct with strangers, his management team, other CEO's, etc. I knew of his candor and lack of sensitivity towards others, but the degree to which this is depicted made me cringe and even wonder if Jobs should not be garnering so much world-wide respect. This sentiment was strong in the beginning of the biography, but by the end of the biography, I had actually become accustomed to Jobs's personality through the biography, almost as if I had personally known the man and adapted to him. The biography actually made me feel like I knew him.
3. Extraordinary historical perspective - Even if this biography were not to mention Steve Jobs, it would be fascinating. There is so much written about the history of Silicon Valley, other famous CEOs, musicians, artists, politicians, etc, that the book is enticing.
4. Extraordinary perspective on other famous leaders - Jobs spoke candidly about his opinions regarding virtually every important person that may have crossed his path. There are comments and stories regarding John Sculley, President Clinton, Obama, Bill Gates, Jeffrey Katzenberg (Disney), Michael Eisner (Disney), Bob Iger (Disney), Bono, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Yoko Ono, Steve Wozniak, Larry Ellison (Oracle), Eric Schmidt (Google), Larry Page (Google), Andy Grove (Intel), etc.
5. Extremely detailed descriptions of Jobs's business decision-making processes - This is true throughout the biography, but especially so towards the last third, where there is an extraordinarily detailed account by Jobs of his thought process during development of the iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, and iCloud. In this latter third of the biography, whatever doubt may have existed of whether or not Jobs should be so revered is laid to rest when we witness his amazing decision-making ability.
6. Unexpectedly funny - Especially in the very beginning of the biography, you can't help but laugh when you read about John Sculley's first day at Apple and seeing Jobs sitting on a desk playing with his bare toes.
7. Jobs's personal life - This has always been an enigma and the most many knew of Jobs's personal life came from his 2005 Stanford commencement speech. We see into his early girlfriends' perspectives of Jobs, his current wife and children's perspective. The fascinating story of his biological parents, biological sister, daughter for whom he initially denied custody, three children and wife. There is much written about his perspective on Zen Buddhism and his trek to India.
8. Extremely detailed - For all the above points, there was an immense amount of detail that I never envisioned would exist in this biography.
9. Easy to read - The author makes reading each sentence effortless.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
1. Not enough photos - The few photos that were included were great, but it left you wanting more.
2. Possibly too much of the negative aspects of Jobs's personality were described - No doubt that the man could belittle others, but there was so much emphasis of this especially in the beginning of the bio, that I wondered if the author didn't try too hard to make this point for fear of being accused of being too soft in his description of Jobs
3. Some very slight repetition in the very beginning of the biography from passages found in the middle and end of the biography.
4. I wished for more of Steve Jobs's perspective - Every now and then, the author would mention what Jobs thought of a certain past event but I wish there were more of those. So much of the biography read more like a history book trying to be objective and accurate, but I really wanted to know what Jobs thought about everything. I wanted his perspective more, even if it would make the book less objective.

CONCLUSION
This biography is amazing because of the subject matter, but it is also well-written. It seemed to be such an effort at objectiveness, however, that it actually lacked what I wanted to read most, which was Jobs's perspective. I appreciated the author's efforts and painting an accurate historical picture, but I really wanted to know what was on Jobs's mind regarding everything that was written about him. There was not enough of that, which is unfortunate, because it is in my opinion, his perspective that mattered the most.
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 28, 2011 7:39:13 PM PDT
Skibumwong says:
Steve Jobs

Nice review. Am waiting eagerly for the book at the post office. What you may be asking is more autobiographical in nature.

This must have been a nerve racking process for Isaakson combined with getting it to press as soon as possible after SJ's death.

Posted on Nov 2, 2011 12:28:53 PM PDT
Best review I have read yet... I too, found myself acclimating to Jobs' personality as I went along as if I was someone who had known him for years. I also agree about the pictures, some of the most interesting ones were at the beginning of the chapters and they were smaller and less clear. I agree with the other points too and wonder if the lack of additional detail on Jobs' perspective on various issues was the result of the author simply not being able to spend enough time with Steve and/or get him to open up more.

Posted on Nov 2, 2011 7:19:13 PM PDT
Greg T says:
A good review. I also felt that the book was overly negative. In fairness, I also got the strong impression that Jobs had his empathy circuits fused or re-wired (possibly from all the LSD and fasting?). I don't know anyone in high-tech that cries as much or screams at subordinates as if they were sub-human. Perhaps that was Jobs. Perhaps not.

I love Apple products, but I'd never want to have gone to dinner with Jobs.

Posted on Nov 7, 2011 10:15:25 AM PST
Hey Jude says:
I'm not finished with the book, about 30% (that's what my I-pad says anyway). But I agree with what you say about the author's not very flattering depiction of SJ. He's not a very likable character, but for all that, it's hard to dislike him. I'm sure though that those on the receiving end of his criticism would not say the same thing, but they would also say that the criticism played a huge part in getting things done and done beyond their own expectations. It's difficult for me to reconcile the portrayal of a vegetarian "child of the 60's" to the harsh and at times ruthless depiction of SJ. I am enjoying the book, it's well written and re-living the 70's and 80's. The subject is fascinating and I can't wait to get back to it.

Posted on Nov 8, 2011 8:10:54 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 8, 2011 8:14:03 PM PST]

Posted on Nov 8, 2011 8:15:12 PM PST
Gus Zambezi says:
Very good review, I agree with both your likes and dislikes.

Posted on Dec 12, 2011 5:57:08 PM PST
A nice review!

"2005 Stanford commencement speech"
I studied this speech and think this speech is very interesting!

;-)

Posted on Jan 1, 2012 6:02:07 PM PST
AmazonValley says:
One book about Steve Jobs isn't enough to cover all the things still wanting. Hopefully, the author is working on Steve Jobs II

Posted on Jan 6, 2012 1:30:45 PM PST
Medha A says:
You are very right about the 2nd point under "WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE". I was almost contemplating of putting the book down after reading too many sarcastic remarks on Jobs' brash behavior by Isaacson in the first 1/4th of the book! (Later I started simply ignoring the occasional sarcastic remarks)!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 16, 2013 11:41:41 AM PDT
C. Waters says:
seriously???
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