Review: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

For the biography of a man who changed the way the world interacted with computers, changed them from industrial devices to an indispensable part of our lives, Walter Isaacson's account of Jobs's life is hallucinatory in parts, and illuminating in others. 




Having been a Steve Jobs fanboy (but not Apple's, since I'm Indian and cheap), large parts of the biography appear heard about to me. Isaacson draws upon large volumes of material from Jobs's legendary MacWorld presentations, and stories from inside Apple have been on the website folklore.org for years. A reading of the book actually turned into a multimedia experience for me, turning back to Youtube to watch videos of Jobs, saying this or that mentioned in the book.


There are two other parts of the books Isaacson succeeds in, and phenomenally. Jobs the family man, a person you end up hating for his abandoning and saturnine nature, and Jobs the maniac- who is easy to idolise and follow. In the beginning of the book, you're watching a movie in your mind in Eastman Color, as a young man comes of age in a time that saw creativity flower in the western world. By the middle, you are the fly on the wall, witnessing a personality coming together, even as it abandons the but-natural good habits one is 'supposed to have'. It leads to a shattering of your beliefs about Steve Jobs and his Shaman like abilities. You get to know the pains he must bear, the brilliance of people like Jony Ives and the team at Pixar. They become the real heroes, while Steve shepherds them along, making the right choices (in retrospect).


This is where the books blooms into a thousand rainbows. While reducing Steve to a human being, Isaacson, with his dispassionate reporting, introduces facets and nuances that get your goat. How does one co-relate a man with an eating disorder for life create not one but two unimaginably successful companies? Isaacson puts it in a spread for you.
The book is unreasonably large to hold in your hands and read. It demands patience, as Isaacson moves at a leisurely pace between the various years Steve spent doing what he wanted to. But it draws you, with a keen eye of keeping the reader reeled in at all times. 
Most reviews of the book talk about what Steve said about him or her, or this or that. What these reviews acutely miss is the layer by layer unraveling. This is where the beauty of the book is. And that is why you must read it. Not because its about Steve Jobs, and everything Apple has to be good. It is a phenomenal account of a Legend's life. That's why.


And one more thing. The book reveals Steve's history with his real sister, and his abandoned daughter. One of these has been novelised. But both must be immortalised on screen.

Comments

  1. This book given an insight to the mind of a genius. It tells us that design matters in life and no detail is too small to ignore. Its a must read for someone who wants to be an entrepreneur. It deals with the notion of merging creativity with engineering. It describes how Apple was built and what it core values are.

    This book will definitely make us admire Apple and their designer engineers.

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