Reviews for Steve Jobs : A Biography


Booklist Reviews 2011 November #2
*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. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Choice Reviews 2012 April
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. General Readers; Lower-division Undergraduates; Upper-division Undergrad[Sat Oct 25 01:56:40 2014] enhancedContent.pl: Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\enhancedContent.pl line 249. uates; Graduate Students; Researchers/Faculty; Two-year Technical Program Students; Professionals/Practitioners. K. D. Winward Central College Copyright 2012 American Library Association.

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Kirkus Reviews 2011 November #2
An unforgettable tale of a one-of-a-kind visionary. With a unique ability to meld arts and technology and an uncanny understanding of consumers' desires, Apple founder Steve Jobs (1955–2011) played a major role in transforming not just computer technology, but a variety of industries. When Jobs died earlier this month, the outpouring of emotion from the general public was surprisingly intense. His creations, which he knew we wanted before we did, were more than mere tools; everything from the iPod to the MacBook Pro touched us on a gut level and became an integral part of our lives. This was why those of us who were hip to Steve Jobs the Inventor were so moved when he passed. However, those who had an in-depth knowledge of Steve Jobs the Businessman might not have taken such a nostalgic view of his life. According to acclaimed biographer and Aspen Institute CEO Isaacson (American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and a Heroes of a Hurricane, 2009, etc.) in this consistently engaging, warts-and-all biography, Jobs was not necessarily the most pleasant boss. We learn about Jobs' predilection for humiliating his co-workers into their best performances; his habit of profanely dismissing an underling's idea, only to claim it as his own later; and his ability to manipulate a situation with an evangelical, fact-mangling technique that friends and foes alike referred to as his "reality distortion field." But we also learn how--through his alternative education, his pilgrimage to India, a heap of acid trips and a fateful meeting with engineering genius Steve Wozniak--Jobs became Jobs and Apple became Apple. Though the narrative could have used a tighter edit in a few places, Isaacson's portrait of this complex, often unlikable genius is, to quote Jobs, insanely great. Jobs was an American original, and Isaacson's impeccably researched, vibrant biography--fully endorsed by his subject--does his legacy proud. Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 December #3

If not the greatest of computer moguls, the late Apple Computer co-founder was certainly the most colorful and charismatic to judge by this compelling biography. Journalist Isaacson (Albert Einstein) had his subject's intimate cooperation but doesn't shy away from Jobs's off-putting traits: the egomania; the shameless theft of ideas; the "reality distortion field" of lies and delusions; the veering between manipulative charm and cold betrayal; the bullying rages, profanity and weeping; the bizarre vegetarian diets that he believed would ward off body odor and cancer (he was tragically wrong on both counts). Isaacson also sees the constructive flip-side of Jobs's flaws, arguing that his crazed perfectionism and sublime sense of design--he wanted even his computers' circuit boards to be visually elegant--begat brilliant innovations, from the Mac to the iPad, that blended "poetry and processors." The author oversells Jobs as the digital artiste pitting well-crafted, vertically integrated personal computing experiences against the promiscuously licensed, bulk-commodity software profferred by his Microsoft rival Bill Gates. (Gates's acerbic commentary on Jobs's romanticism often steals the page.) Still, Isaacson's exhaustively researched but well-paced, candid and gripping narrative gives us a great warts-and-all portrait of an entrepreneurial spirit--and one of the best accounts yet of the human side of the computer biz. Photos. (Oct. 24)

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

If not the greatest of computer moguls, the late Apple Computer co-founder was certainly the most colorful and charismatic to judge by this compelling biography. Journalist Isaacson (Albert Einstein) had his subject's intimate cooperation but doesn't shy away from Jobs's off-putting traits: the egomania; the shameless theft of ideas; the "reality distortion field" of lies and delusions; the veering between manipulative charm and cold betrayal; the bullying rages, profanity and weeping; the bizarre vegetarian diets that he believed would ward off body odor and cancer (he was tragically wrong on both counts). Isaacson also sees the constructive flip-side of Jobs's flaws, arguing that his crazed perfectionism and sublime sense of design--he wanted even his computers' circuit boards to be visually elegant--begat brilliant innovations, from the Mac to the iPad, that blended "poetry and processors." The author oversells Jobs as the digital artiste pitting well-crafted, vertically integrated personal computing experiences against the promiscuously licensed, bulk-commodity software profferred by his Microsoft rival Bill Gates. (Gates's acerbic commentary on Jobs's romanticism often steals the page.) Still, Isaacson's exhaustively researched but well-paced, candid and gripping narrative gives us a great warts-and-all portrait of an entrepreneurial spirit--and one of the best accounts yet of the human side of the computer biz. Photos. (Oct. 24)

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