Reviews

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Now we all know how the story ends. But that only adds a certain frisson to this biography of the man who was determined to make a dent in reality. Shaping reality was what Jobs was about, not only in his extraordinary vision of how personal computers could remake the world but also in his personal life, where early forays into Eastern mysticism led to belief in what Star Trek called a reality distortion field Jobs believed reality was malleable and made others believe it, too. The book is filled with examples of projects that seemed impossible to complete but were completed and goals that appeared unachievable but were achieved all because Jobs insisted it could be done. Yet Jobs was no saint. Isaacson (along with many of Jobs' friends) posits that being given up for adoption gave him a brittle, callous edge, which likely led him to abandon a daughter he had out of wedlock. Juxatposed against Jobs' story are contrasting profiles of Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, the actual engineer, who would benignly have given away the specs for designing personal computers (he did give low-level associates some of his Apple shares before it it went public), and Bill Gates, at different times Jobs' partner and rival. Isaacson, who has previously written about long-gone geniuses Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, benefits this time from contact with his subject. Jobs gave the author 40 interviews for this book and asked his family and associates to cooperate. The result is a wonderfully robust biography that not only tracks Jobs' life but also serves as a history of digital technology. What makes the book come alive, though, is Isaacson's ability to shape the story as a kind of archetypal fantasy: the flawed hero, the noble quest, the holy grail, the death of the king.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Isaacson's (Einstein: His Life and Universe) new biography of Steve Jobs (1955-2011) will satisfy the curiosity of all those looking to delve into the nitty-gritty details of the tech titan's life. Though it begins with a traditional sketch of his parents (both biological and adopted) and birth, the book quickly gets down to business: readers see the creation of the Apple I within the first 60 pages. Isaacson's primary focus is on Jobs's professional life, and chapters are often organized around a single product, e.g., the Mac or the iPod. Jobs emerges a man who cares deeply about the wares he sells and the companies he builds, but one who (famously) is all but unbearable for it. Starting his career smelly and shoeless, the eccentric Jobs even at the end of his life eschewed cancer treatment for nine crucial months on behalf of a strict, carrot-juice-heavy diet. Verdict Isaacson has produced a full, detailed account of an influential man's life, but the style never rises above that of a well-graded research paper. As for Jobs, readers will newly admire their iPhones but not the near-sadistic management style that produced them. [See Prepub Alert, 8/26/11.]-Molly McArdle, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Isaacson (CEO, Aspen Institute; Einstein, CH, Sep'07, 45-0247; Benjamin Franklin, CH, Jan'04, 41-2999) provides an exhaustive examination of Steve Jobs as individual, innovator, and entrepreneur. Recurring themes are Jobs's belief, in contrast to those of Bill Gates and other peers, that a closed software and hardware infrastructure were the key to quality and success; Jobs's embodiment of Robert Friedland's "reality distortion field"--believing that he could force or, in some cases, avoid reality (e.g., his nine-month delay to accept the need to remove a cancerous tumor); and Jobs's overarching principle that his companies and products stay at the forefront of the intersection between the liberal arts and technology. He strongly felt that without exception, Apple, NeXT, and Pixar embraced this philosophy more than any competitor. Isaacson examines Jobs's successes from the development of the Apple I with engineer Steve Wozniak to essentially rescuing the failing digital-age music industry with iTunes. He also addresses Jobs's miscalculations, such as the inability of NeXT hardware to make a splash in the academic market, or his initial reluctance to allow third-party applications on Apple devices. This fascinating tour de force on the world of Steve Jobs would be an excellent addition to computer science and business collections. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. K. D. Winward Central College