Steve Jobs is a fantastic biography by Walter Isaacson. He explores the growth of the personal computer industry (and of course the MP3 music player industry, cell phones, tablets and everything that Apple has had a part in) in a way that is interesting and completely readable. I have to make it a 5-Star Read, because I honestly think that everyone will enjoy it. After reading it, I’m pretty interested in Walter Isaacson’s biographies of Einstein and particularly Benjamin Franklin, whose life I’ve been curious about for some time. Isaacson manages to weave together the narrative perfectly, balancing information with storytelling.
I’m not a huge Mac fan. My family loves our ipods, but that’s about it. I don’t really care much about the growth of the computer industry or the particular person of Steve Jobs, but this book was riveting, and if you’re at all interested in the changes in our use of technology that have taken place over the last 20 years or so, there will be facts that inform and interest you in this book. I learned that Steve Jobs had a hand in so many things, including the success of Pixar, ebooks, and much more. Knowing what was coming — each new innovation from the growth of the personal computer, to the ipod to the iphone to the ipad — built a sort of tension throughout. Knowing that Steve Jobs had lost his battle with cancer right before the publication of the book lent it slightly more weight, and did make me consider the weight of the loss of that creative and innovative mind.
There’s been a lot of press about how the book reveals Jobs to be an unsympathetic and callous boss and person in general, and yes, that’s true. Isaacson doesn’t cut Jobs any slack on the issue, though it is usually manifested as a result of his desire for everything to be perfect.
Jobs cooperated with Isaacson on this project — in fact he asked Isaacson to author his biography — but did not have a hand in the finished project at all. He didn’t read the book before publication and didn’t read it before he died. Isaacson talked to personal friends and family, co-workers, those he had spurned and those who admired him.
This is a long book (although the amazon page says “abridged,” the Simon and Schuster audiobook I have is 20 long unabridged CDs), but I honestly was interested in every single chapter. Because it’s nonfiction, it’s easily the kind of book that you could work your way through when you had time. You could listen to the audio in bursts, or read a chapter here and there when you have time.
AUDIOBOOK NOTES: Dylan Baker read this book and he did a great job. Never did I get lost in the details or glaze over while listening to something that wasn’t interesting. Baker made Steve Jobs’ thoughts and words come to life, and allowed Isaacson’s prose to shine. Though the audio was log, I got through it within a month or so, which is probably sooner than I would have read the big chunkster of a book. But it was compelling enough — even though it was non-fiction and not a suspenseful novel — that I found myself finding time to listen.
Jennifer Donovan enjoys fiction best, but interesting, informative and readable nonfiction fuels her love of reading as well. She blogs at Snapshot.