Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Steve Jobs Hardcover – October 24, 2011
|New from||Used from|
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2011: It is difficult to read the opening pages of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs without feeling melancholic. Jobs retired at the end of August and died about six weeks later. Now, just weeks after his death, you can open the book that bears his name and read about his youth, his promise, and his relentless press to succeed. But the initial sadness in starting the book is soon replaced by something else, which is the intensity of the read--mirroring the intensity of Jobs’s focus and vision for his products. Few in history have transformed their time like Steve Jobs, and one could argue that he stands with the Fords, Edisons, and Gutenbergs of the world. This is a timely and complete portrait that pulls no punches and gives insight into a man whose contradictions were in many ways his greatest strength. --Chris Schluep
Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Walter Isaacson
Q: It's becoming well known that Jobs was able to create his Reality Distortion Field when it served him. Was it difficult for you to cut through the RDF and get beneath the narrative that he created? How did you do it?
Isaacson: Andy Hertzfeld, who worked with Steve on the original Macintosh team, said that even if you were aware of his Reality Distortion Field, you still got caught up in it. But that is why Steve was so successful: He willfully bent reality so that you became convinced you could do the impossible, so you did. I never felt he was intentionally misleading me, but I did try to check every story. I did more than a hundred interviews. And he urged me not just to hear his version, but to interview as many people as possible. It was one of his many odd contradictions: He could distort reality, yet he was also brutally honest most of the time. He impressed upon me the value of honesty, rather than trying to whitewash things.
Q: How were the interviews with Jobs conducted? Did you ask lots of questions, or did he just talk?
Isaacson: I asked very few questions. We would take long walks or drives, or sit in his garden, and I would raise a topic and let him expound on it. Even during the more formal sessions in his living room, I would just sit quietly and listen. He loved to tell stories, and he would get very emotional, especially when talking about people in his life whom he admired or disdained.
Q: He was a powerful man who could hold a grudge. Was it easy to get others to talk about Jobs willingly? Were they afraid to talk?
Isaacson: Everyone was eager to talk about Steve. They all had stories to tell, and they loved to tell them. Even those who told me about his rough manner put it in the context of how inspiring he could be.
Q: Jobs embraced the counterculture and Buddhism. Yet he was a billionaire businessman with his own jet. In what way did Jobs' contradictions contribute to his success?
Isaacson: Steve was filled with contradictions. He was a counterculture rebel who became a billionaire. He eschewed material objects yet made objects of desire. He talked, at times, about how he wrestled with these contradictions. His counterculture background combined with his love of electronics and business was key to the products he created. They combined artistry and technology.
Q: Jobs could be notoriously difficult. Did you wind up liking him in the end?
Isaacson: Yes, I liked him and was inspired by him. But I knew he could be unkind and rough. These things can go together. When my book first came out, some people skimmed it quickly and cherry-picked the examples of his being rude to people. But that was only half the story. Fortunately, as people read the whole book, they saw the theme of the narrative: He could be petulant and rough, but this was driven by his passion and pursuit of perfection. He liked people to stand up to him, and he said that brutal honesty was required to be part of his team. And the teams he built became extremely loyal and inspired.
Q: Do you believe he was a genius?
Isaacson: He was a genius at connecting art to technology, of making leaps based on intuition and imagination. He knew how to make emotional connections with those around him and with his customers.
Q: Did he have regrets?
Isaacson: He had some regrets, which he expressed in his interviews. For example, he said that he did not handle well the pregnancy of his first girlfriend. But he was deeply satisfied by the creativity he ingrained at Apple and the loyalty of both his close colleagues and his family.
Q: What do you think is his legacy?
Isaacson: His legacy is transforming seven industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, digital publishing, and retail stores. His legacy is creating what became the most valuable company on earth, one that stood at the intersection of the humanities and technology, and is the company most likely still to be doing that a generation from now. His legacy, as he said in his "Think Different" ad, was reminding us that the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.
Photo credit: Patrice Gilbert Photography
About the Author
Walter Isaacson, University Professor of History at Tulane, has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chairman of CNN, and editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Leonardo da Vinci; The Innovators; Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. Facebook: Walter Isaacson, Twitter: @WalterIsaacson
Discover books for all types of engineers, auto enthusiasts, and much more. Learn more
Top customer reviews
I had seen the author interviewed on numerous TV shows about the same time as the book was released. I'd also seen the 60-minutes interview which was quite revelatory in its own right. I had read and heard so much about the biography that I was fearful that I already knew most of what would be in the book. While it is true that parts were already "out of the bag" there was much that was still exciting to discover.
The beginning of the personal computer revolution was an exciting time and Jobs was at the forefront of this. Learning all about the humble beginnings of Apple Computer was incredibly interesting, Yet, I feel that the author hardly scratched the surface of the more technological side of things. He emphasized more of the sociological side of the story. That side of the story was written well but I just feel there was more nuts and bolts stuff that was not brought into play in the biography. I did read with interest however how Jobs coped with the knowledge that he had cancer and its relentless progression.
I wouldn't say that this will be the definitive biography of Steve Jobs. I'd be quite surprised if there weren't others either in the works right now, or soon to be in the works. Already there are many people opening up and speaking about what it was really like dealing and interacting with Steve Jobs.
Whether or not you are an Apple customer or fan, this is a great glimpse into the life of a man who had a huge impact in how we view and interact with technology. His vision has turned entire industries upside down. He truly was a visionary and his legacy will live on for quite some time.
I don't know if I'll live long enough to see where Steve Jobs will ultimately be placed in the list of geniuses... Einstein, Edison, etc, but he certainly belongs on that list somewhere. The world has lost a great thinker and tinkerer. The loss of such a great mind like that is sad... his contributions were significant. We'll never know what the next "one more thing" could have been.
While I find it interesting that they have chosen to demythologize this famous figure, the movie itself has a few drawbacks. The movie itself is kind of more like a play than a movie since the settings rarely change. At times it's engrossing, but other times - since the movie is mostly dialogue driven - the dialogue can seem a little long (like the time he and his secretary are arguing about the house).
Another drawback is the conciliatory attempts of trying to make the movie seem a little more balanced regarding his personality. Throughout the movie, they paint him as tyrannical and almost devoid of feeling, but at the end try to slip in a little humanity in his character. It just felt out of place given the tone they struck throughout the movie.
I don't think Seth Rogan was a good choice for Steve Wozniak. I just have such an association with him as the character he usually plays, that I couldn't see him in this role. The director went with an unconventional choice for his main character, why didn't he do the same for the Steve Wozniak role?
It wasn't about computers; it was about the man. Although I applaud this choice in a way, because it could have quickly devolved into another feel good success story, I think showing the evolution of computers could have added a little bit of spice to the story and made it less of a one-note stage play.
All-in-all, I liked the movie. It was thought provoking and an interesting look at this famous man's life. Be warned, if you're the type of person who thinks this is a movie that heaps praise of the title character, you're in for a big surprise.
Did you ever wonder about the Simpson's writer named Appel? Or about Homer's mother named Mona? These little nuggets are not central to the book or to Steve Jobs, but these details are intriguing nonetheless.
I recall the first time I sat at a Mac. "What a joke," said I. "The mouse is useless."
Then, during the next 90 minutes, I wrote a calibration procedure, 10 pages long. "Hmm, this screen and this design makes it easy for me to write."
I still was not won over to the Mac until months later when I started publishing a magazine that went on to national notoriety and acclaim, but I was certainly appreciative of this new creation.
Isaacson's book is a bit like Steve Jobs. It is solid investigative journalism that should set the standard for biographies. At some points I found myself exasperated at Jobs for his idiosyncracies. At others, I was cheering Jobs' brilliance.
Perhaos the Apple-Jobs phenomenon can be encapsulated in a cute one-liner or a cool sketch. Perhaps, but me thinks not.
Nor can Bill Gates be accurately portrayed in such fashion.
Each man did a great deal to advance humanity. Each led us towards the ideal we all seek. Neither extreme is complete without the other.
Still, I would bet Apple will outlast Microsoft because of its one great philophy - build the greatest possible product and the money will come.
I hope Isaacson does a similar biography of Bill Gates - C. William Anderson.