Written by: Walter Isaacson
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Reviewed by Dorothy Doremus
Ever since I purchased my first iPod I have been fascinated by the products produced by Apple. The iPod is the best mp3 device I have owned and I have owned quite a few. Apple took a lot of pride in the products it manufactured, from the colors it offered consumers to the packaging of the devices themselves. Then came the news on October 5th, 2011 that the founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, had passed away from pancreatic cancer. I was such a fan of his innovations that when I heard a biography was being written about Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, I could not wait to get my hands on it.
The book was broken into several chapters following the timeline of Job’s life. This book is also quite large, so carrying it around could make your arm sore. However, the sacrifice would have been well worth it.
The biography begins with the birth of Steve Jobs. His birth parents gave him up for adoption to Paul and Clara Jobs. Paul Jobs was a machinist for a company that made lasers and Paul could fix just about anything around the house. He worked on cars, electronics and household standards with Steve in his workshop in the garage. Paul stressed the craftsmanship that went into the production of the items while the pair worked on them together. Paul was also a perfectionist and really took the time to make sure that whatever he was working on looked as good as it worked. Steve took this mentoring to heart and, throughout the book, you see many examples of the perfectionist trait.
The early chapters speak of young Steve Jobs. Even at an early age, Steve showed flashes of greatness as a class clown. Steve would use his advanced knowledge of electronics to pull pranks. He would later found the Homebrew Computer Club where some neighbors, including friend Steve Wozniak, built a circuit board which would be the beginning of something great.
I absolutely loved the flow of this pieced. The book then brings you into the college years. Steve eventually dropped out of college and decided to spend time in India where he studied enlightenment. Upon completion of reading this novel, you can see the reflection of his thought processes from what he learned about enlightenment.
Isaacson takes you from Steve’s first position at Atari to his relationships. Joan Baez was mentioned quite a bit. He also dabbled in drug usage, mostly LSD, which he believed was one of the most important things he had done in life.
I give a lot of credit to Mr. Isaacson. This biography was read by Steve Jobs and he gave some input, but never had the author edit out any content. This decision not to edit things out really allowed people to understand what people were experiencing at that moment. The book uses rough patches in many of Steve’s relationships, personal life and business to drive home this point. Job’s relationship…or lack thereof…with his first daughter, Lisa, was examined extensively. It could not have been easy to hear some of the talk about the father/daughter relationship and the lack of attentiveness in it. Nor could it have been easy to listen to people Steve berated over the years talk so blatantly about reality distortion field. Isaacson held nothing back, which makes this an honest biography. Isaacson will have you rooting for Jobs even while showing you that to get ahead in a creative field, you have to be willing to sacrifice.
Jobs would routinely take projects off the table to focus on one and wanted his factories, offices and stores to be absolutely perfect. Through all of the years of doing business, layers of this man are revealed and the drive behind him shines. Jobs was not interested in money, a recurring theme. Jobs wanted to change the world.
Steve Jobs gave us so many things that are common place today. Had he not been a driving force at Apple or Pixar, we would never have had the iPod, animation technologies, iTunes and the best graphics computer out there in the Mac. Isaacson makes sure the reader understands what it took to come up with these innovations and how tough it was to make those dreams a reality.
I really loved this biography and I am not a techy person. You don’t need to be because the book is written so well. I applaud Walter Isaacson for writing a biography that really made you understand Steve Jobs. Jobs was a very complex individual with extraordinary drive and focus on what he wanted to accomplish. Isaacson really made this book one that I didn’t want to put down and when it was over, it made you really want to take a moment to say a thank you to Steve Jobs for all that he has given us over the year.