I was impressed that Jobs, as an over-controlling, hyper-critical and demanding individual, gave open access to the author, empowering Walter Isaacon to write it without Job's control. It read like an
Success, failure, focus, success - the trials and tribulations of so many entrepreneurs. Many succeed based on timing and luck. Timing and luck played a role in Jobs career, but more importantly there was also a streak of brilliance and a differently-wired (and a bit crazy) brain that created a person who succeeded in spite of himself.His ability to influence and change several industries - and the world - is one of the great high-tech stories of all time.
When one becomes successful, it is often more comfortable to share the ugly past and relate its learning. Steve did this in a very unusual and reflective moment with the Stanford commencement speech, taking me back to the video again. Simply outstanding!
Although I knew a bit about Jobs' Reed College experience and the environment there (I sold Reed a Digital PDP 11/70 computer to Reed College about the time Jobs was leaving) I did not know the in-depth details about Jobs unbathed early work experience, details of his youthful hiatus abroad, wild oat seeding or his spiritual and dietary preferences. How in the world could such a dropout from life ever become founder and CEO of one of the largest companies in the world. Amazing. He focused like a rifle shot, his trajectory was straight, unwavering and ballistic to all around him.
My high tech career closely paralleled that of Apple's. I was there to see the Lisa (WOW!) when I was with Digital Equipment Corporation and then bought the first Mac. One company I was with was an Apple developer in the 80's and we attended many MacWorlds, spend time at Apple's home office and many trade shows. However, most of this was during John Scully's time. At another company we created a CPU accelerator that worked with the Mac and we presented it to a large group at a MacWorld.
Apple has always been special to me. And the products have been
I won't go into detail about the content of the book itself -- other reviewers have covered that adequately -- but I'll address the reader.
I generally stick to non-fiction audiobooks because I almost always dislike the way a single reader will deliver a work of fiction. Most non-fiction audiobooks I find enjoyable, or at least listenable. This one is only mediocre; my least favorite of the thirty or so non-fiction books I have heard.
Dylan Baker reads in a sing-song voice that makes the conversations and commentary of those interviewed sound like a kids' book. Everything sounds a little silly. Harsh critiques are inappropriately softened, and painful memories are presented matter-of-factly. The value a human reader can bring to any printed book seems to be lost here, particularly when Baker is reading direct quotes.
Other reviewers noted that Baker's reading was sub-par. I listened to the sample offered by Audible, so I could decide for myself. What I didn't realize is that the sample is from the introduction -- by the author, not the reader. Really, Audible? No one noticed that the sample captured the less than one percent of the book not read by Dylan Baker?
Don't be fooled by the sample. Isaacson does a decent job. He would have been a better choice to read the audiobook.
Love audible and podcasts ...doublespeed.
The book is great. (Check out some of the other comments and reviews.)
I agree with many of the reviewers who said that the narration is annoying. I listened at 2X speed which helped a little. Dylan couldn't figure out what words to emphasize so he emphasized and articulated every one. The tone was wrong everywhere ... I couldn't wait to finish the audiobook and return to something more pleasant for my ears. And now I am done! and can't wait to listen to some of my favorite podcasts (e.g. NYTimes Bits Tech Talk and Babbage from the Economist... now they do audio in a pleasing way).
For a book that says user experience at least 100 times, it is ironic that more care was not taken in choosing the narrator. This is a long book to have that kind of user experience.
never (sorry Dylan)
Dear Mr. Isaacson,
I have just enjoyed "Steve Jobs." I am 49 years old and a computer
scientist. After 7 years of running writers groups, I am finally
publishing my own novel and the novels of many of my writers. I also
produced a documentary for my parent's 40th wedding anniversary in
I grew up in the era of the Apple ][. I idolized the two Steves and
their work influenced me. I built my own computer from chips - just as
Woz had and I programmed my own "monitor" program. I understand what
those guys did at a fundamental and personal level.
What I appreciated most about your biography was the way you told
Jobs' story through the point of view of friends, relatives, and
coworkers. It was a very honest depiction. It was also told in a
simple way that is accessible to everyone - similar to an Apple
product. Having written a book and told a biography through video, I
feel I understand the amount of work and care that it took to create
These days, I'm building a writing club that takes a writer from
concept to full publication and beyond. Steve Jobs' idea of
controlling his products from beginning to end makes perfect sense to
me and is instructive. I may never have his combination of rapport,
charisma, and focus. But in your book I have found elements of his
leadership style that I can integrate into my own.
Thank you for an excellent biography. (I actually listened to it on
my iPad from the Audible.com download while working.) Steve made an
excellent choice when he recruited you for the work.
I loved this biography about this brilliant man. Before reading it, I always thought Steve Jobs seemed to be someone everyone either loved or hated. I figured this would just be a glowing tale of how great he was. It was surprisingly honest about his flaws as business man, friend, and family man.
I also don't get why many people were bashing the narrator. I thought he did very well. I've listened to many audiobooks with both good and bad narrators, and I thought the bashing was totally unwarranted.
This was a biography, not an autobiography. Even if had been written by Steve Jobs, it would be silly to have someone try and read it AS Steve Jobs.
I highly recommend it
Having been an engineer in the tech industry since the early 80s, I found the behind the scenes detailed descriptions fair and honest, and immensely interesting. An "Apple Hater" for most my life (mostly because of my philosophical differences on open vs closed systems), the stories told of what the teams of people went through to arrive at the final product. Despite his successes, I still think many people that worked for him had a love-hate relationship considering his demeaning way of treating people that were trying to carry out his wishes.
Issacson does a credible job in reading. He gives expression where needed without going over the top.
My only complaint might be some of the redundancy. There is one place near the end of the book where Steve Jobs describes many times how the Mac or PC will stop being the center of the hub of digital media storage, as the cloud (iCloud) will take over that role. This is probably repeated at least 5 times in various meetings and recalls - small quibble though.
I came away from the book with the thought that Jobs was a man who enjoyed the destination, not the journey. With all his tumultuous tantrums, lies, reality distortion, and contradictions, its truly amazing what the final destination produced.
This is a very well written book with very vivid details on Job's life and thoughts. Not to be missed, it's a journey while worth taking. The narration didn't sound like what you'd expect, but, was delivered well enough to enjoy the book
This is a phenomenal book. It's filled with stories that you feel compelled to tell others about at every opportunity. I always admired Steve Jobs, and read another biography of his about 10 years ago. This was so much more.
The research is unbelievable. By covering so many angles, interviewing so many subjects, you feel confident the author nailed the truth.
It paints jobs as flawed, but endearing nonetheless. There were so many moments when I was shaking my head in near disbelief. Or smiling.
Some of the prevailing "characters," Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Woz, are silicon valley icons, and the bits of insight into their lives is an excellent bonus. It fills in so many blanks for those who are interested in Jobs, of course, I can't recommend it more.
I never owned an Apple Computer or a MAC, but I found this history of Steve Jobs to be a fantastic listen.
Anyone that has loved technology over the years should listen to this book. It was extremely interesting to learn about his relationship with Bill Gate and Woz. After learning about how he developed products I worry about Apples future and thank god I wasn't an engineer that had to pitch an idea to him.
I think Steve Jobs will be studied in business courses for years to come.
This is an awesome, honest and inspiring account of the world's foremost technology innovator and one of the chief architect's of consumer IT products. Issacson deftly navigates the reader through an interesting, complex story about a man whose vision and marketing capabilities brought us Apple and Pixar, revolutionized the music industry and put the world in the palm of our hands. His manic and obsessive tendencies and abuse of those around him are not hidden, but laid bare for us to understand that, despite his prowess as visionary and businessman, no one is even close to perfect. His soul is unleashed in each chapter and the inevitability of his demise to the horrible cancer that consumed him, reveals to all and to Jobs himself, what made him tick. It is about the power of commitment to principles and ideals and how one person can truly shape and change the world.
In a word, powerful.