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on March 17, 2017
I bought this book, not because it was about Jobs, but because I'm a big fan of Isaacson. This work, much like his other works, was unsurprisingly of the highest caliber, but what did surprise me was that the subject matter, Jobs, was much more intriguing than I could have imagined. I was an early Apple computer owner in the 70s which had a huge impact on my life and career as a computer programmer, but I was always a Wozniak fan, and never thought anything of whoever this Jobs person was. Oh how wrong I was, and I think that's a big part about why Isaacson agreed to do this biography. Jobs turns out to be the driving force behind so many huge and successful companies that he built including Apple, Mac, Pixar, iTunes, and others. Not to take anything away from the hardware genius of the Woz, but Jobs was the smartest and most talented of them all. Having not read this book yet, I took for granted nearly all of what he accomplished. What Isaacson has done more than anything, is make us understand how all of these great accomplishments came about despite so many difficulties and obstacles, and yet once he illustrates for us who Jobs really was, his incredible success seems inevitable. Isaacson brings to light the deep artistic passion of Jobs using equally artistic prose which makes the book hard to put down at any hour.
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on August 15, 2016
So I read about Warren Buffett, who has created a steady process of improvement, and to balance that, I read about Steve Jobs. What made him great? I really loved this book, it was emotional, it made you feel that you knew the man, and it was not full of praise, but seemed to be a real look into his life. Jobs is an interesting character. He was full of himself, mean, selfish, and yes, a jerk. But he accomplished some great things. So what made him great. One element of his greatness was his ability to lead forward. He did not let critics or committee influence him negatively. Sometimes when you are right, you need to be right. This is a hard thing for people to deal with in the church, but there are times to stand your ground. You need to lead courageously. You also need to look for the little improvements. The details are important, it is better to do something right, instead of just doing it. Too often we look for progress, but we do not look for perfection in the church. We settle for less too often. There was a lot of negative lessons too that I learned. He was mean to people, and this is a leadership style I always want to avoid, he also forgot about his family, and no success is worth that. Also, never be prideful, he was wrong a lot of times too, but his ego got in the way. This is a great book to read, and is interesting, helpful, and well done. If you love Apple, success, and failure, it has it all.
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on July 31, 2016
With the exception of one laptop and 2 non-smart cell phones, in my personal and professional life since 2004 I've had nothing but Apple products - computers (both desktop and laptop), iPads, iPods, and my crown jewel: my iPhone. None has ever disappointed me. I say this not to put forth a review of the Apple products but to explain that I am part of Steve Jobs's choir: I value, respect and rely on the products that he created. I'm sold, so to speak. And so it seemed only logical that I would eventually read this book to gain insight both in the genesis and evolution of Apple and in the person of Steve Jobs. The book did not disappoint in either.

What I found out about the early years and the development of the personal computer was fascinating. I do remember a lot of the news articles from those years - I was living in San Francisco at the time and a good friend of mine worked for Apple - but I would not consider myself previously knowledgeable about Apple in any comprehensive way. I learned so much of the nuts and bolts of Apple Computer, Inc., from this book. The chapters about the creation of the iPod, iPhone and iPad were very interesting to someone who has used these products for years and years and feels she has some proficiency using what they offer me.

But the insight I gained from the book on Steve Jobs the man left me very sad. While I consider him to have been a true genius with an almost other-worldly imagination, I can't imagine that I would have liked him very much or respected him outside of his professional arena. As the founder and developer of Apple Computer, he was spectacular. He had an intense imagination, vision, and belief in things that had yet to be discovered. He was fortunate enough to find those people who had the same precise work ethic that he did. To find those people and to hone the abilities of the ones who stayed, he had no reservations about crushing their substandard efforts or their feelings. The ones who lasted were the ones who believed in his vision and their Jobs-given opportunity to indulge and demonstrate their own creativity. The ones who lasted were the best and brightest the tech and artistic world had to offer. The ones who lasted were the ones who took his ideas and made them into our reality. I am profoundly grateful to them and to him for the advances they made in technology and artistry. And I guess the one cannot exist without the other. Without his exact personality would the tech world have been turned on its ear and eventually controlled by Apple? I don't know. Actually I doubt it.

In terms of his family, it seemed as if his attention to them was given only when it was not required or demanded elsewhere. His children were discussed very little; the same is true about Laurene Powell, his wife. But it is clear that in his wife he found the one person who was his equal in intelligence and commitment. Their marriage is portrayed as strong but him as absent.

The sections on his cancer and eventual death were moving but not enough to make me feel for him as a person. I am sorry he died but my sorrow has to do with the loss of him professionally and what he might have accomplished and achieved had he lived but not with the loss of him as a man. And yet I can recognize his genius and I'm glad I read the book.
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on April 13, 2017
I have read several articles about Steve Jobs over the years and I have been ambivalent on how I feel about him. No doubt a genius but as a person-I honestly did not think I would like him. I liked that Steve and his family and co-workers participated in this book. I really like biographies but the ones people write about themselves always leave me wondering "what did they leave out". I did not feel that way about this book although very little comes from his family. Most of the story surrounds the building of Apple. Steve has a sister who is not interviewed and no reason is given for this, I am assuming she did not want to participate. However, I cannot imagine having him as a brother. After reading this book I see he was driven in all areas of his life, work, love, perfection, and in others-such as always wearing the same types of clothes he could care less. (Although be assured that those turtlenecks were probably the most expensive produced at that time.) So did i like him at the end? No,not really but it does seem he tried to reach out and make amends to people he hurt. He seems proud of his family and wife and I find myself admiring him more for being so open about his life. He had an amazing life and I thank Mr. Isaacson for sharing it with us.
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on December 9, 2014
Let me explain...

The stories about Steve Jobs are great. I loved hearing the interviews from various people who's paths have crossed with Steve over his life. There are definitely some unique perspectives and I definitely have a new perspective on a man that is pretty well known already.

However, I do have to say the writing of the book was not my cup of tea. Too often, the interested stories of Steve Jobs life were overshadowed by Isaacson's haphazard storytelling - at times it felt all over the place. Now I understand a biography doesn't have to be chronological, and often, it makes sense to follow an interesting arc of one's life for some depth. However, too often, i felt lost and confused. One moment we are talking about Steve's fight with cancer. This led to a comment about how Steve thought the stress from the 80's may have in some way caused/encouraged his cancer to develop. All of a sudden, Isaacson transports us back to those days - despite the fact he's already thoroughly described that portion of Steve's life in an earlier chapter.

Another minor annoyance with the audiobook version - there is no signal to change CD's. I would be listening and suddenly I would be transported back 20 years only to realize I had re-listened to the first minute of the CD. This was made even more difficult since, as mentioned above, Isaacson tended to do this (jump around) even in the normal course of the book so i was never sure if this was his writing style or the CD had restarted.

Nevertheless, Steve Jobs will always be remembered as an important business leader at, as Isaacson seemed to reiterate every third paragraph or so, the intersection of technology and humanities.
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on November 28, 2011
A good biography reads like a novel. In addition, it delves deep to provide personal details that make the subject come alive in the mind of the reader. Examples of good biographies readily come to mind: McCoullough's biography of John Adams, Sheaffer's biography of Eugene O'Neill, the first volume of Morris' biography of Teddy Roosevelt, Dwyer's biography of Napoleon.

Sadly, Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs reads more like a People Magazine article than a novel. Part of the problem is that Isaacson apparently rushed his research owing to Jobs' ill health. Consider that Sheaffer spent 16 years researching his two books on O'Neill; if memory serves, Morris spent about 10 years researching the first volume of his biography of Roosevelt and an equal amount of time researching the second volume. The result is that Isaacson's portrait of Jobs is one-dimesional. Isaacson's account of how Jobs met his wife consists of merely a few paragraphs, and his description of her is so pedestrian that she is hard to differentiate from Jobs' other romantic partners. Although Oracle founder Larry Ellison is described as Jobs' best friend, we learn nothing about how that friendship developed or what role it played in Jobs' life. Isaacson writes that Jobs was "complex," but he fails to show that complexity. Instead, we are offered repeated stock images of Jobs crying and being charming one moment and distant the next. At no point does Isaacson offer any insight into Jobs' motivations or personality; instead, he takes the sophomoric shortcut and attributes everything to Jobs being adopted. Equally problematic from my perspective, however, is that Isaacson just isn't a good writer. The language is flat, dull, BORING, and fails to rise to the level even of a "good turn of phrase." Given the influence Jobs had on so many facets of modern life, his story deserved better.
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on August 21, 2013
"Steve Jobs" is biographical writing at its best. The author has crafted a compelling, frank portrait of a man who was very complex, brilliant, and at times, not very nice. Regardless of how the reader feels about Jobs and Apple, this biography is a true pleasure to read. I immersed myself in both the audiobook and the (Kindle) book for more than two months. I savored every page because I am fascinated by how a genius creates a work of art--specifically how Isaacson wove together the multitude of interviews, his research, and Jobs's contributions. Sentence by sentence, Isaacson reveals his subject not all at once, but in stages making it seem as if the reader is becoming Jobs as Jobs becomes Jobs as he encounters his successes and struggles.

In a literary world populated with biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs, "Steve Jobs" stands out, for me, as one of the four within this genre that are truly artistic. The other three are "Unbroken", "American Prometheus", and "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl". These three biographies and one autobiography are carefully crafted verbal portraits of individuals who were truly remarkable. In each case, the authors create an ambiance that pulls in readers and compels them to take the journey with the subject as well as with the author. These authors clearly loved and admired their subjects, and that is evident in the care that they took to craft their books.

Of course, it is rare that biographers get to interact with their subjects, and some readers may suspect that the authors become biased either towards or against their subject. The consequences being sugarcoating or exaggerating faults and foibles. Not so with Isaacson. He shows us Jobs as he was--the good and the not-so-good. He remains neutral and presents Jobs as Jobs represented himself, and as his family and colleagues perceived him. In conclusion, "Steve Jobs" flourishes because of this attentive integration of perspectives and analysis of an American icon. "Steve Jobs" the biography deserves a place in the American literary canon as an example of literary art.
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on November 26, 2011
There was a lot to Steve Jobs, despite his penchant for minimalism. But what stands out the most to me from Isaacon's biography is Jobs' passion for making great products -- his uncompromising obsession with making everything that he touched as perfect as it could be. That's what Jobs' legacy is for the great majority of us who didn't work with or live close to him -- he not only gave us incredible, ground-breaking products, but a model of personal passion to produce the thing that is perfect.

Isaacson presents more than that one side of Jobs. There is also Jobs the interpersonal disaster, the narcissist seemingly utterly lacking the capacity for empathy. As Isaacson says and cites others saying, Jobs seems to actually need to tear down other people now and then, and shows little regret afterwards. This often-public destruction of another human being can be rationalized as the need to push people to extreme accomplishments, or to separate "B players" from "A players", but it is all too-often abused as an excuse for simply being a jerk.

Another side that Isaacson reveals is Jobs as complex husband and father. Given how difficult his relationships with people in general were, it's not hard to imagine that his romantic relationships were difficult as well, or that he struggled as a parent, particularly with his daughters. His initial denial of his first child, by his girlfriend at the time, is appalling but really not so surprising, given all that we learn about his apparent drive to unfettered self-indulgence.

But all of that, as reprehensible as it is, pales in comparison to what I took away from Isaacson's book about Jobs the designer.

The "product" is more than the thing, for Jobs. It begins with the advertising, the shopping experience at the Apple store, the paying experience, the packaging, then the thing itself, how you use it, how you use it with other products, the support experience, even how you eventually replace the product with something new -- Jobs wanted every bit of it to be perfect. Hence the closed system that Apple both suffers and thrives from. In an almost measured, wise moment, Jobs grants to Bill Gates that each pursued a profitable course, one controlling the product and the other freely licensing it for wide adoption and multiple sources of innovation. Of course, when he comes back to himself, Jobs believes and says that what Microsoft produced, by allowing any and all to play in an uncoordinated manner, was "crap." Openness sounds good and plays well in the technology culture, but Jobs' particular path to perfection demanded and thrived on control.

What's odd is that, as a person of so little empathy, Jobs could be such a great, almost unerring, judge of what people would love in a product. After all, "perfection" here is hardly an objective standard -- it's Jobs' own judgment. He was wrong now and then -- the G4 Cube or that hockey puck mouse that came with the original iMac -- but his batting average was awfully good. Isaacson provides a jaw-dropping list, from the Apple II and the Mac, through Toy Story, iTunes, the iPhone and iPod, the iPad, the Apple retail stores, and right up to iCloud. And he did it all while disdaining customer focus groups or even customer testing. "Our job," he said, "is to figure out what they're going to want before they do."

Jobs' passion went beyond the product, too, to the company itself. It's clear, especially later in his life, that Apple was not just a vehicle for him, that he wanted to create a great company that would continue well beyond his leadership, to go on to create great, innovative products, with that same no-compromise approach. He may not have been a great teacher or mentor, and we'll see how that part of his legacy turns out, but the intention to create a great company that outlived him was certainly there.

Jobs has sometimes been derided as simply a skilled marketer (by distinction from Steve Wozniak's technical brilliance), even as a con man, manipulating whole crowds by creating "reality distortion fields" around him. But I think Jobs was sincere. Even when he shilled his products, proclaiming them "the greatest thing we've done", he meant it. Why not? He had made sure it was great, he wouldn't stop until it was. When he told the Cupertino City Council, while showing the drawings for Apple's proposed new headquarters, "It's like a spaceship has landed," he wasn't so much hyping as he was showing his own genuine delight with what he and his architects were creating. That delight was the payoff for his perfectionism.

Isaacson's book won't be the only biography of Jobs. I'd be interested to read, for example, a study of Jobs as designer (or of Apple's design history under his leadership, finally giving due respect to the contributions of not only Jony Ive but the many others who contributed). But Isaacson's is certainly a good starting point, a kind of opening to the conversation that others can now take up and hopefully will.
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on April 23, 2017
I couldn't put the book down once I started. I may not have liked the main character all the time but never did I not want to learn everything about Steve Jobs. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Isaacson had a major feat of writing about a complicated personality who lived more in his one life than three or four accomplished individuals put together. Thank goodness I saw the movie and decided to read the book. The movie is crap and does not do justice to his legacy. The book must be good because I like him less now than before I read about him! (And yes, I am writing this review on an iPad!)
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on July 22, 2017
As an Apple devote, I admittedly had a great deal of bias even before cracking the cover... That being said, I thought this was a fantastic account of one of the most unique and accomplished individual in the 21st century.

Steve was a visionary, and Walter does a fantastic job of representing him for who he was. Not only does he highlight his accomplishments, but he provides the necessary context for you to truly understand all of the *quirks* that came along with his way of doing business. This isn’t a negative thing in the least, and I would go so far as to say it was necessary to paint a full picture of a truly unique person’s life.

I highly recommend that you pick up a copy - Steve lived an extraordinary life and it’s truly empowering to understand his story.
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