One of the first books I listened to when I joined Audible was Walter Isaacson`s 2011 authorized biography, "Steve Jobs." I listened to it on my iPhone 3 on a long drive up to Bakersfield from Los Angeles. On the way back, I pulled over at the McDonald`s in Grapevine to use their free Wi-Fi to download the next section of the book so I could keep listening.
I revisited my Audible review, and I'd noted, "Isaacson's biography doesn't answer the question of whether Jobs was successful because he was a jerk, or if being an a** prevented him from achieving even more." Brett Schlender and Rick Tetzeli's 2015 book, "Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader" doesn't answer that question, but as Jobs himself might have said, "That's a stupid question." What I should have asked - and what Schlender and Tetzeli answer - is why anybody would want to work for Jobs.
As founder of Apple, Jobs was an enfante terrible who scr**** over his genial, brilliant co-partner Steve Wozniak; denied paternity of his first child, Lisa, and had to be forced to pay child support; and was unceremoniously booted from his own company after badly misreading the mood and position of his closest co-workers. Jobs was, in short, as a young man, the absolute jerk that Isaacson portrayed.
After Jobs' 1985 exile from Apple, he started NeXT with massive Silicon Valley venture capital funding. NeXT appeared to do little more than deliver what we used to call 'vaporware.' That was the term for hardware, software or both that just existed in the mind of marketing. What NeXT actually did was develop the Unix based operating system that became OS X, and eventually IOS, the iPhone operating system.
While running NeXT, Jobs turned his attention to a very small computer company he'd picked up on the cheap from Star Wars director George Lucas, who needed the cash for an expensive divorce. Pixar was almost a hobby for Jobs, who supported the technical work of the company; made it financially viable; and stayed out of the way the creative people who dreamed wonderful stories. A younger Jobs, ego raging, would have interfered Pixar to ignominy. Instead, Jobs guided Pixar to a deal with Disney and a series of unforgettable movies starting with Toy Story. Disney eventually nominally acquired Piixar, but in actuality, Pixar controls Disney now.
Apple was nearly bankrupt when the Board of Directors lured him back as an advisor in 1996. Jobs turned Apple around. It's been profitable since 1998. It survived Jobs' death and is now the world's most valuable company.
I listened to "Becoming Steve Jobs" on my iPhone 5s. The iPhone 6 is out now, and while I'm an "early adapter" of books, I wait to upgrade technology until I need to. The Audible downloaded quickly, in one file instead of multiple sections. I didn't have to clear out old books to make room. I wrote this review in Notes, using Jobs' virtual keyboard. (Months ago, I downloaded Microsoft's version of Word from the App Store, but that turned out to be a piece of garbage.)
Listening to "Becoming Steve Jobs", I realized that Jobs had grown exponentially both professionally and personally. He'd matured into someone people wanted to work for and with. Comparing the two books, it was sad to realize that while so many people had forgiven Jobs, he lacked the insight to realize that he'd grown into a better person. He could have forgiven himself.
The book was an intriguing listen, but it got repetitive in places. The narration - well, it's odd. George Newbern's a pretty well known television and voice actor, and he doesn't usually sound robotic. For a good part of this book, though, he sounded like the male version of Siri. Siri's fine for a line or two, but listening to someone narrate chapters like that - ow.
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I'm a fan of old-school coroner/medical examiners. Thomas Noguchi. Michael Baden. Kathy Reichs, as a PhD in Physical Anthropology and a Diplomate in Forensic Anthropology, not just a prolific writer. And now, Judith Melinek, MD.
Dr. Melinek is an Associate Clinical Professor of Pathology at the University of California San Francisco and Board Certified in Pathology, but at the beginning of her medical career, she was a stressed out intern who'd decided against becoming a surgeon and was looking for a different discipline. She ended up in pathology, starting out in the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office. In 2001.
Given the timing, I expected "Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner" to be mostly about 9/11. Dr. Melinek and her husband and co-author, T.J. Mitchell devote a chapter to it, but the ME Office's work wasn't determining cause of death. It was victim identification.
Most of the book is about Dr. Melinek's transformation from a shell shocked aspiring surgeon to a gifted medical examiner. Forensic pathology is clearly her true calling, and she has a passion for determining what causes death - and preventing premature death. I was fascinated by the discussion about the difference between surgical complications which result in death, and medical malpractice resulting in death. Her discussion about properly performed surgery resulting in an earlier death than would have happened without the surgery was illuminating. I do suspect that being able to convey the complex difference - a sign of an experienced expert witness - happened after those first two years, which would make sense because the book wasn't published until 2014.
Dr. Melinek isn't squeamish about death for the most part, and her book isn't for the easily disturbed reader/listener. She talks about removing organs and the sound they make; making incisions; advanced decomposition, and so more. Pathology isn't done in the stylish elegance and artfully lit scenes of an episode of CSI. It's done with deniers to move bodies, scales to weigh organs, and careful mapping of scars and tattoos, Thankfully, Dr. Melinek pretty much avoids talking about the autopsies of kids. She did address one horrid case of child abuse that will haunt me, but at least it's just one more story to add to my mental list of 'Bad Things that Happened to Children I Can Never Forget. that Make Me Wish the Person Who Did It Could be Thrown Into a Cave Pit like the Mesa Verde Indians Used to Do.'
I enjoyed Tanya Eby as a narrator. Her smooth delivery reminds me a bit of Colleen Marlo's narration of Amy Stewart's "The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks" (2013).
The title of the review is Latin for "Dead men speak."
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