I haven’t written a book report since high school – and I’m pretty sure those sucked anyway, but I wanted to give my thoughts on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.
I, like so many, pre-ordered the book after his death (when the publication date was moved up). I used the store in the iBooks app on my iPad to order. I’m up late (for me) watching the World Series and Sunday Night Football and using my iPad to track scores and stats when I get the alert that the book is ready to download. What was cool is that they released the book at 12:00 AM Eastern – so I got the book (in my mind) early. I decide to just read the first chapter and then get to bed. The problem was that I couldn’t put it down.
I don’t know if it was because everything seems so fresh based on his recent passing or it was that gripping, but I kept reading . . . and reading . . . until I was done. Fortunately, I read pretty fast, so it didn’t keep me up all night. As I was surfing this morning, I’ve noticed a lot of reviews about the book, so thought I would add my take on it as well.
I think the book – and maybe Steve Jobs himself – is like art. You take away what you will. You see what you want to see and hear what you want to hear. If you’ve heard that he was an obnoxious jerk, then this book will back you up – think he was a genius (and the two don’t have to be separate)? That point is supported as well.
The book details Jobs’ life and his take on life and the impact he could have on people’s lives in general. There are plenty of tidbits and juicy bits of gossip about people in the industry if that interests you. I was more interested in what shaped his outlook on design and functionality (it’s explained) and how that could be merged with his sheer genius (not so much). I am drawing my own conclusions here, but I think that his frustration with the world not keeping up with his brain is why he had such a temper. It’s like there was a picture in his head and he built things to match the picture. It’s like seeing the future, but having to wait for time to pass to catch up.
Here’s the main thing I took away from the book – Steve Jobs was very complex. Occam’s Razor says the simplest explanation is usually correct, but I’m not sure there was a simple explanation as to why Steve Jobs was who he was or how he became what he became.
Kudos to Walter Isaacson who has added another excellent lineup of biographies, including Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin (both of which I really enjoyed). I highly recommend this book. I also suggest reading iWoz and watching Pirates of Silicon Valley to round-out the story.
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