Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson (2011)


NOTE: this is a palate cleanser after a month of daily genre postings.

I am not an Apple user.  I own no Apple products.  In fact, I think they are a little bit of a cult.  But I know a good story when I see one.

I picked up this book because Steve Jobs was such an interesting figure.  But what surprised me most about this book had nothing to do with Jobs — there won’t be too many revelations for anyone who has followed the computer industry at all.  I was impressed by how well the book was put together by Walter Isaacson.

I am immediately bored by biographies that start out at the big bang, and waste 100 pages getting to the subject.  Isaacson takes care of the preliminaries and gets to “Steve Jobs” the character in pretty short order.  Of course it helps that Jobs became pretty interesting at a young age.

The milestones, products and key people in his life are presented clearly and concisely — this book moves.  Isaacson has done a great job of sticking to the important topics and skimming quickly over most distractions.  The only time I got a little restless was toward the end.  I think that is probably true of any contemporary non-fiction book.  As events approach the current day, things just seem to get frayed and less important (other than his fate, of course).

I just deleted a few small complaints because 1) who am I to judge, and 2) this is a great book, and not just because of the subject.


  • Holy cow, were there a lot of dudes crying in this book.
  • Walter Isaacson has also written biographies of Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin which I now plan to read.  The one about Henry Kissinger, not so much.
  • This was the first time I ever got the sense of a Board of Directors actually doing something.  Normally all you ever hear is log-rolling: serving on each others boards, approving astronomical salaries, rubber-stamping proposals; or people being appointed purely because they are famous.  The Board here seemed engaged, which is even more amazing given who they were dealing with.  And that one of them was Al Gore.

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