I would imagine that it is very difficult to find much new to say about a figure who, despite his penchant for privacy, spent so much of his life in the public eye. But Mr. Isaacson succeeds admirably. This books was probably intended to be the definitive record of Steve Jobs' life, and it is certainly that. The timeline approach shows the development and maturing of his character as well as his professional accomplishments over the span of his life.
There is no doubt that he was a genius and the book traces the unfolding of that brilliance, and in what I think is the key value of the book, shows the cost that those around him paid for their relationship with him.
Even as he was in the hospital for his liver transplant, he was a terror to those around him; family, doctors and nurses. One is left wondering if this person felt love or empathy or compassion for anyone. His self centered and often cruel existence was seemingly tolerated because of his wealth, talent, and accomplishments.
In the end the book raises an existential question (at least for me)...do his accomplishments and revolutionizing products excuse his behavior towards others? I would grade his professional life as an A+, but his interpersonal life would be an F-.
As we would say in Southern California, that dude is going to have some crazy karma in his next life.
author & web developer
Steve Jobs is such a complex individual that it's amazing what a good job Isaacson was able to do. I found that the book, though long, is so compelling and intricately woven that it kept me turning the pages most of the night for three nights in a row! At first, I was a bit put off by the reader, but as the book moved on, I was glad for his performance. Steve Jobs is not just a book about a world class "asshole" or creative genius. Nor is it simply about tech developments and the growth of Silicone Valley or the insanely great products Jobs and Apple created. It is also an accurate reflection of my own life writ large. All of Steve's strivings for excellence, his almost naive romanticism and his spiritual questing I shared coming of age here in Northern California. My husband shared them, too. This may be one reason I found the book so exceptional. I am eager now to read Isaacson's other bios. I find him almost as amazing as his fascinating subject!
I agree completely with one of the previous reviewers. This is a terrific book, but the reader is absolutely awful, especially when he's trying to intone statements made by Steve Jobs. Trying to create a caricature is a good way of describing it. I found it almost unlistenable , the voice was so annoying throughout. I can't understand how in the world Mr. Baker ever got the gig to record one of the most anticipated biographies of recent years. I would have preferred either the author or someone with a depth of character and nuance to their voice, instead of this reedy-voiced nails-on-a-chalkboard narrator. An extremely disappointing performance! Dear Simon & Schuster/Audible- PLEASE have this re-recorded! I'll even buy it twice just to get the new version!
I have always loved to read, and now I really enjoy listening to my books as well!!
With 8,000+ reviews out there, do we really need another? I'll keep it short and sweet--
I had no desire to read this book, but was going to see Walter Isaacson at the Book Festival last year, so I broke down and listened to it. I loved it!! It is very well written for a big-fat biography. And Dylan Baker did an excellent job narrating.
I didn't admire Steve Jobs as a person, but certainly admired what he accomplished. And I found the whole story of the beginning of Apple, and the computer industry in general, fascinating. If you're on the fence about this one, go for it--I think you will be pleasantly surprised!
Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!
What can I say that hasn't been said about this book.
Incredible biography and a study in leadership. A prickly personality along with being adopted, growing up in the 60's in a middle class family in the bay area, love of art/music/craftmanship, drive for simplicity, success and failures weaved together created Steve Jobs.
Isaacson does not pull punches - Jobs was a gifted leader who was a control freak and a certified "ass-hole". He only wanted "A" players on his team, and strove for focus and perfection. Perfection and simplicity is at the base of his "closed" systems - which helped me understand why I love my iPad, but miss my iPhone since others products feel clunky in comparison.
Jobs was an innovator in personal computers, cell phones, tablets, music, and digital entertainment (Pixar and iBooks). He has touched our lives in so many ways.
Great book - and Dylan Baker's narration was excellent. I'll re-read again and use as a study in Leadership. I'll also read more bios by Walter Isaacson
mostly nonfiction listener
I went into the biography somewhat skeptical about the potential value of the book. How much is there really left to know or say about Steve Jobs and Apple, given the obsessive manner that the press and the blogosphere write about Apple. This is why I was surprised at how much I learned from reading Isaacson's book, and how I finished the book with some changed opinions about Apple and Jobs.
Isaacson does an excellent job untangling the roots of Jobs aesthetic perfectionism and technical vision, as well as his tendency towards cruelty. Taken apart, none of the individual events in Jobs life or the history of Apple can explain how the products that Apple created have had such a large impact on how we work, learn, create, consume and play. Taken together, however, the weaving together of Jobs personal narrative with the history of Apple adds up to a rich an nuanced story, one that brings into focus how both Jobs and Apple came to dominate such large sectors of computing, media, music, publishing and music.
The overriding theme of Jobs' creations at Apple and Pixar has been products (and experiences) that reside at the intersection of technology and the humanities. Jobs was neither a pure technologist nor an artist, but a translator and connector between these two often separate and opposing worlds.
This intersection between technology and humanities is where, I think, many of us believe that we also need to situate our institutions of higher learning. We understand that the skills, knowledge, and ethics embodied by the liberal arts constitute an essential skill-set for thriving in a rapidly changing, technologically driven information economy.
Jobs succeeded so spectacularly at Apple in large measure because of his ability to create a corporate culture that was uncompromising in its quest to achieve the highest possible results in both art (and design) and technology. In Isaacson's telling, the creation of products like the iPhone or the iPad or the iPod or the MacBook Pro (that I'm typing on now) become inseparably intertwined with the experiences, world-view, and management practices of Steve Jobs.
The value of Isaacson's biography rests on three elements:
1. The extraordinary access that Jobs and his family gave to Isaacson when writing the book.
2. The lack of other sources of information about Jobs life and the inner workings of Apple.
3. Isaacson's consummate skill as a biographer.
Each of these elements come together in an extraordinary work of biography.
I love learning, teaching, and exploring!
I didn't read the print version. I rarely read print ever since I signed up for Audible. I enjoy listening to books on the way to school, when doing chores, etc. This cannot be done with print books.
Hearing about the insights behind some of the great products that I use everyday.
He was a pleasure to listen to.
Hearing about his fight with cancer and his own personal statement.
Constantly in search of the perfect listen.
I am still not sure what to think of Steve Jobs. He was not particularly kind or warm to those around him. I cannot tell if he served as an inspiration, or if it was just his micro management and high demands that made those who worked for him perform so brilliantly. Luck and neuroses cannot be the only things that lead to his enormous success. In my opinion, you cannot deny his genius despite these character flaws.
While it is possible that fate and chance initially brought him and Woz together, leading to the birth of Apple, his continued success and “re-birth” were all Job’s doing. It was a result of persistence, and was accomplished with his full will and effort behind it. His ideas can sometimes be thought of as more design than substance, but I disagree. Apple design is a huge part of what makes Apple products so “substantial.” Without Job’s being so obsessively focused on the details, they would never be what they are today.
Learning about his life, one can try to guess what experiences influenced Steve Jobs the most. It seems to me that his success was a combination his innate talent, and the place and time he was born into. A California boy who becomes a part of the counter culture of the 60’s and 70’s combined with the unique world of the Silicon Valley. There will never be another Steve Jobs.
Who knew Steve Jobs was an abusive narcissist? This book begs the question "Can you excuse the terrible behavior of someone if they are a genius that changes the world?" Though entirely too long and, at times, boring, much of this biography was quite fascinating and makes one want to go out and work for a company that truly values innovation.
Excellent insight into a man with an unwavering vision. He was absolutely correct, "A" players do in fact love to work with other "A" players and that they can be driven to great successes. He will be missed by those who strive to do and be better.