Title: Steve Jobs
Author: Walter Isaacson
Narrator: Dylan Baker
Publication Year: 2011
Pages: 656 (audio length: 25 hours 8 minutes)
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography
Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com
From the cover:
From the author of the best-selling biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, this is the exclusive biography of Steve Jobs.
Based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs conducted over two years — as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues — Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.
At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the 21st century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.
Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.
Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple’s hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.
That’s probably one of the longest “blurbs” for the back of the book that I’ve seen. Usually, if they’re fairly long or give too much detail about the plot, I cut them down a bit. But it seemed a bit wrong to edit this one – after all, it’s not like Jobs’ life is really a secret to be exposed through this book … it’s just that most readers don’t know all the bits and pieces and details together.
This is where Isaacson’s skill really comes through in Steve Jobs: he does a great job in assembling all the component parts and really making the narrative of Jobs’ life accessible to the everyday reader. I have to admit that I didn’t really know much about Jobs at all before I read this book, though he had always intrigued me. (I think it had something to do with the jeans-and-turtleneck look he was sporting in recent years … comfy casual is kind of my thing.) This was a really great opportunity to finally find out more about a man who affected our modern lives in so many ways.
My only real complaint about the content was that it was sometimes repetitive. I think this goes part and parcel with writing a book based on interviews, though – there’s simply a lot of overlap.
Listening to the audio version of this book was okay, but I wouldn’t say that it was anything spectacular. I think I’d probably recommend the print and audio versions equally; the narrator did a fine job at reading and at differentiating between different characters when necessary, but there was no real pizazz to it. This is probably because of the subject material … it wasn’t really the kind of book that lends itself well to a dramatization.
If you’re interested in learning more about Jobs, the tech industry in California, or the legacy of Apple, then definitely give Steve Jobs a shot. It’s a long book, but really gets into the nitty-gritty of its subject.