In this collection of essays, Walter Isaacson reflects on the lessons to be learned from Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, Hillary and Bill Clinton, and various other interesting characters he has chronicled as a biographer and journalist.
The people he writes about have an awesome intelligence, in most cases, but that is not the secret of their success. They had qualities that were even more rare, such as imagination and true curiosity.
Isaacson reflects on how he became a writer, the lessons he learned from various people he met, and the challenges he sees for journalism in the digital age.
He also offers loving tributes to his hometown of New Orleans, which both before and after Hurricane Katrina offered many of the ingredients for a creative culture, and to the Louisiana novelist Walker Percy, who was an early mentor. In an anecdotal and personal way, Isaacson describes the joys of the "so-called writing life" and the way that tales about the lives of fascinating people can enlighten our own lives.
©2009 Walter Isaacson; (P)2009 Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Businessman, Technologist, Marketer. Loves to learn and enjoys books. Mostly nonfiction plus historic novels.
After enjoying each of Isaacson's Einstein, Jobs and Franklin biographies, I decided to get this audiobook. I was concerned there would be a lot of repeat material, but there is not much really.
This is an enjoyable book. It is told as a story, you don't feel like you are listening to chapters of discrete information. The stories are interesting, relevant and educational.
The last third of the book includes a random interview with Woody Allen about his affair with his stepdaughter and then a section on the future of publishing. Both chapters feel out of place completely, I have no idea why the author or the published would include them here. But, since the first two thirds were excellent, I will give them this one chance.
I was all ready to give this book five stars. Discussions about the author's choice individuals who influenced history in the 20th century: I learned a lot about Albert Einstein, for example. That's the reason that I got the book in the first place.
However....during the last 20% of the book; the author, a journalist, reverted to his favorite causes. One was how customers should pay for the content in the changing news business--a self licking ice cream cone; in my opinion. I thought that irrelevant to the book's theme. Do that again, Walter Isaacson, and you've lost at least one reader.
This book would be more honestly titled "Walter Isaacson's political opinions about everything". There are sketches in the book but only as context for Walter to opine about current events and how he would have done things had he been king of the world. You won't be surprised to learn that he thinks George Bush is really evil and Obama might be the Messiah. Maybe that is the intended slant for sales purposes. Well read, however.
It was doomed from the start.
Title was very misleading.
The material he had to read.
Too few to mention.
Enjoyed the Jobs bio, but Sketches was a waste.
Wonderful description of the "greats" that made their marks during my lifetime. Sadly the democrat leaders who had for years been my idols have plunged our country into moral decay with a President who is backing our youth into war by his racist, unpatriotic, cowardly lack of leadership. Our greatness is slipping away barring a new group of young conservative Turks. We who served in VNam went to war; and the cowards fled to government and colleges where they obtained their nobility by rewriting the truth about this wonderful country.
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