Posted by: Echoes on Dec 08, 2011
I’ve just finished reading the kindle version of the biography, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I have to admit, I was quite reticent about reading a biography that I had heard was just a little self-serving. However, Walter Isaacson is an old pro at this – he has tackled some other heavyweight life stories and each one was handled with the same respect and sensitivity.
The clean, minimalist black and white cover is, in some ways, homage to the typically minimalist approach Jobs had to life and work. Each Apple product becoming sleeker, simple in its use, genius in its technological advancement. The cover looked like it had been personally designed with the help of John Ive’s textbook approach to simplicity.
Unfortunately, while the book is insightful, it underwhelms towards the end as the litany of often bad behaviour, tirades, bullying, lying and belittling becomes tiring. We are led to believe that Jobs, in his almost obsessive zeal for perfection, is portrayed as the ultimate work bully who will do and say anything to get his way.
What saves the book is an insight into the factors that lead to the development of this generation’s essential toys – the iFamily: the iMac, the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Many Apple users will nod and smile when they read about his obsession with designing instruments that are intuitive and that becomes an extension of who you are and what you do. We all feel that way about our itoys today.
There are other moments in the book that endears Jobs to you (despite the horrendous way he treats people). His love for music – Bob Dylan in particular – and how this might have led to the creation of the iPod and the iStore. The fact that he was actually an attentive and considerate husband, father and son. And his devotion to beautiful aesthetics (in many ways John Ive’s was his soulmate in this).
With the relentless tales of bad behavior, the book is not easy to read – but it’s harder to put down. I think it’s one of those essential additions to your Kindle or iBook library. Trust me, I prefer ye ‘olde dead tree versions, but to read this book on anything but my iPad seemed silly in my opinion.
The Steve Jobs biography, Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is available from the iTunes store for $14.99 or (if you prefer the dead tree version) from Exclusive Books for R350.