Walter Isaacson’s ‘Steve Jobs’

John Gruber reviews Isaacson’s biography. This is by far the most useful book review that we have seen. John closes with this:

(…) Note that my complaints here are not about Isaacson being insufficiently deferential. That the book is not a hagiography is to its credit. The personal stuff — documentation of Jobs’s cruelty (and histalent for cruelty), his tantrums, his tendency to claim for himself the ideas of others — that’s not problematic. Isaacson handles that well, and what he reports in that regard jibes with everything we know about the man. My complaints are about outright technical inaccuracies, and getting the man’s work wrong. The design process, the resulting products, the centrality of software — Isaacson simply misses the boat.

You could learn more about Steve Jobs’s work by reading Rob Walker’s 2003 New York Times Magazine piece than by reading Isaacson’s book, but even then we’re left wanting for the stories behind any of Apple’s products after the iPod. Isaacson’s book may well be the defining resource for Jobs’s personal life — his childhood, youth, eccentricities, cruelty, temper, and emotional outbursts. But as regards Jobs’s work, Isaacson leaves the reader profoundly and tragically misinformed.

Isaacson gives us the story of an asshole. But the world is full of assholes. What we need is the story of the one man who spearheaded so many remarkable products and who built an amazing and unique company.

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