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Steve Jobs (2011)

by Walter Isaacson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,797241951 (4.14)76
Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years, as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues, the author has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing. At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering. Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted. Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple's hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values. -- From publisher.… (more)
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» See also 76 mentions

English (226)  Spanish (5)  French (3)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Arabic (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (241)
Showing 1-5 of 226 (next | show all)
This is a very well researched character study of a most famous person. The defining phrase was "reality distortion field". A few people were immune to it. Most succumbed. Toward the end of the book, as Isaacson documented the years of cancer it was more about his fight with cancer and less about his fights with people.

It took a while - I finally realized how Apple could make such great products with such a volatile eccentric boss with such abusive people skills. His Jekyll & Hyde personality was coupled with a perfectionism. He alternated between abusive and charming depending partially on whether he was trying to get something from a subordinate or peer. I assume that the perfectionism is what made those great products possible.

There was a part I wanted to quote, but it's already been returned to the library. The wife of John Sculley went to talk to him. She asked him to look into her eyes. Instead of seeing a soul, she saw a vast emptiness. That, to me characterized the book - someone with a lot of drive, but absent human feelings.

I want to read some of the other biographies by Isaacson. ( )
  bread2u | Jul 1, 2020 |
4 stars for being the story of Steve Jobs condensed into one resource, but points deducted for inaccuracies, a lack of inquiry into his processes and contributions at work, glossing over some achievements that were significant in the industry (the work at NeXT that survived and transformed Apple), and being a very poor paraphrasing of the source material whenever he draws from past interviews or articles. See John Siracusa's recent podcast episode of Hypercritical for an articulation of these shortcomings (42-43).

I'm on the fence as to whether this result was Jobs' intention, but it doesn't matter. It's a 3-star biography because the subject matter deserved much more insight and skill. ( )
  brandonlee | Jun 11, 2020 |
Great writing. Thorough history without getting too dry. Jobs’ really just wanted his kids to know him. ( )
  Dustin.glendinning | May 19, 2020 |
I really enjoyed this book. Steve Jobs was an interesting character and Isaacson does a decent job of presenting both his good and bad sides. ( )
  morrowje | May 8, 2020 |
Really enjoyed this book as I am a little bit of an Apple fan, but would not classify myself as an acolyte.

Isaacson writes this in a balanced and measured way, highlighting Jobs achievements and failures with careful consideration. There is lots of detail in the book, and i thik it is a worthy way to remember how he revolutionised several industries. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 226 (next | show all)
Steve Jobs dreamed of a legacy that awed people. He wanted to be in the pantheon of great product innovators, indeed surpassing Edwin Land and even his early icons William Hewitt and David Packard. But, Jobs created more than great products. Just as significant was his ability to create great companies with valuable brands. And, he created two of the best of his era: Apple and Pixar.
 
Isaacson’s book is long, dull, often flat-footed, and humorless. It hammers on one nail, incessantly: that Steve Jobs was an awful man, but awful in the service of products people really liked (and eventually bought lots of) and so in the end his awfulness was probably OK. It is not Isaacson’s fault that Jobs from early on had a “admixture of sensitivity and insensitivity, bristliness and detachment,” as Isaacson describes it, or that Jobs abandoned friends, thought almost everyone else was a shithead, showed little interest in his daughters, and made life generally miserable for anyone who had to provide a good or service to him. But it is Isaacson’s fault that the biography is so narrowly focused on one moral theme. The reader is left to judge, with plenty of evidence both ways—and a clear idea of where Isaacson’s sympathies lie—whether Jobs deserves the Artist’s Exemption.
added by Shortride | editn+1, Gary Sernovitz (Dec 20, 2011)
 
As Walter Isaacson says in this incisive biography, Jobs behaved like a Nietzschean superman, using his will – transmitted through an unblinking stare – as a remote-control device that compelled others to do his bidding.
added by SqueakyChu | editThe Guardian, Peter Conrad (Oct 30, 2011)
 
While Jobs was a vigorous competitor, he also came to view himself as an elder statesman with a responsibility for giving advice to Google’s Page, Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other emerging technology executives, according to “Steve Jobs,” an authorized biography by Walter Isaacson and published by CBS Corp. (CBS)’s Simon & Schuster. It goes on sale Oct. 24.
added by Serviette | editBloomberg, Adam Satariano (Oct 22, 2011)
 
Mr. Isaacson treats “Steve Jobs” as the biography of record, which means that it is a strange book to read so soon after its subject’s death. Some of it is an essential Silicon Valley chronicle, compiling stories well known to tech aficionados but interesting to a broad audience. Some of it is already quaint. Mr. Jobs’s first job was at Atari, and it involved the game Pong. (“If you’re under 30, ask your parents,” Mr. Isaacson writes.) Some, like an account of the release of the iPad 2, is so recent that it is hard to appreciate yet, even if Mr. Isaacson says the device comes to life “like the face of a tickled baby.”
added by LiteraryFiction | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (pay site) (Oct 21, 2011)
 

» Add other authors (48 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Walter Isaacsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Defert, DominiqueTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delporte, CaroleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gittinger, AntoinetteÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grasmück, OliverÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mallett, DagmarÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, ElfiÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stumpf, AndreaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werbeck, GabrieleÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. -- Apple's "Think Different" commercial, 1997
Dedication
First words
(Introduction - How This Book Came to Be) In the early summer of 2004, I got a phone call from Steve Jobs.
When Paul Jobs was mustered out of the Coast Guard after World War II, he made a wager with his crewmates.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Book description
À partir d'une quarantaine d'interviews exclusives et de multiples rencontres avec sa famille , ses proches , ses collaborateurs , ses amis comme ses adversaires , l'auteur a constitué d'une façon magistrale et passionnée la vie , l'œuvre et la pensée d'un des plus grands innovateurs et visionnaires de notre époque .

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.

Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.

Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple’s hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.
Haiku summary
Steven P. Jobs/Innovative, genius mind/Rough around the edge(njvroom)

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