Martin's Reviews > Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
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Jan 26, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: 2012books
Read from January 26 to February 11, 2012

Rare is the book both totally readable and completely uninteresting. I shouldn't say uninteresting, rather: unenlightening. I'm no Apple fanboy, but I must have known slightly too much already about Steve Jobs (probably thanks to this 8-part documentary produced by my workplace). So the detailed laundry list of Jobs' accomplishments, products, and fights were readable but in no way enlightening.

While fluidly written, this book bounced from anecdote to anecdote, quote to quote without once stopping to answer the question "WHY?" or bothering to go beyond a surface-level analysis. I knew I was in trouble when Jobs begins developing his first computer on page 21. Exactly 20 pages out of 571 is devoted to his abandonment by a graduate student mother and Syrian immigrant father, his adopted childhood and upbringing, and his schooling -- approximately the number of pages devoted to Apple's iCloud (!?!?). Indeed, this is less a biography than it is a high-school book report on everything Steve Jobs ever accomplished; fine, but not psychologically interesting enough for me.

I also get the sense this book was rushed to publication in the 90 seconds after Jobs' death -- it is disastrously repetitive. (Again, like a high school book report being padded to hit the required word-count.) Isaacson himself wanders uneasily in and out of the narrative, unsure of how much a role he should let himself play in this love-fest. Which is not to say that the book contains no criticism of Jobs, only that it allows all criticism to be justified by his genius for product development -- a murky moral tradeoff at best. If there was a more forthright accounting and exploration of the moral ledger I would have been happier, or at least more forgiving.

As it is, I can recommend "Steve Jobs" wholeheartedly as a comprehensive, fluidly written, fast-paced book report about a fascinating man. However, as a biography supposedly offering context, insight, and psychology, I find precious little to praise.
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