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Steve Jobs [Hardcover]

Walter Isaacson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 24 2011

Based on more than forty 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 twenty-first 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.

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“. . . 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.” — starred, Booklist “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.” — Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Think differently about how to Think Different Dec 19 2011
In my opinion, this is among the most important business biographies ever written. Given the number of other reviews that have already appeared, there really isn't much left for me to say that has not already been said. However, I thought it might be helpful to those who have not as yet read the book to share my thoughts about the lessons to be learned from what Walter Issacson reveals about Steve Jobs as another calendar year begins.

o Perfection is a journey, not a destination, and it should be pursued intensely in every domain of one's life
o There are no insignificant details
o Very Good is the enemy of Great
o Great is the enemy of Insanely Great
o Steal only the best from the best and then make it better

Among the treasures he "borrowed":

Make everything as simple as possible...but no simpler (Albert Einstein)
Vision without execution is hallucination (Thomas Edison)
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing (Helen Keller)
The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do (Michael Porter)
God (or Whatever) is in the details and Less is more (Mies van der Rohe
The Devil is in vague generalities (Gustave Flaubert)
Graphical user interface or GUI (Xerox PARC)

Issacson visited Jobs just before he died. They discussed death and the possibility of an afterlife. "I'll like to think that something survives after you die." Then he fell silent for a very long time. "But on the other hand, perhaps it's like an on-off switch," he said. [begin italics] Click! [end italics] And you're gone. "Maybe that's why I never wanted to put on-off switches on Apple devices."
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103 of 117 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We Did It My Way Oct. 26 2011
If you're like me the first thing that strikes in reading this book is how mythological it is.

Put up for closed adoption by unmarried parents who eventually married, rejected by the first would be adoptive parents, then adopted by working class parents, it would be difficult to imagine a more inauspicious beginning, or a more auspicious outcome. Steve Jobs would grow up to prove that an apple can fall quite far from the tree, and still blossom. Abandoned, the chosen one, special.

Firstly, I don't think there is any such thing as an illegitimate child, only illegitimate parents.

The public life and business achievements have been well chronicled, and I didn't want to read a book about Apple. I wondered about the family life, the relationship with Bill Gates, were they collaborators or competitors, some of the other cast of characters. I wondered how much of Apple's great accomplishments were due to Jobs, what effect his passing would have on the future of Apple. I wondered about how he got the Beatles music, and the reputedly fractious relationship with Apple records.

Isaacson has put together a narrative never less than fascinating about a mercurial man. My opinion of Jobs did not change as a result of reading this book. He already struck me as being a highly driven type A personality, narcissistic, aggressive, perfectionistic. Certainly these traits contributed to both his successes and his setbacks, and made him a difficult man to get along with, but those high standards imposed by a drive for perfection, and a demanding lack of compassion, would also draw out of people abilities, creativity, and great accomplishments.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Inspiring Read! March 22 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I already knew a fair bit about jobs but this book is a true biography of a true legend. His story had to be documented and documented well. I am glad Walter Isaacson wrote this book. I doubt anyone else could have told the story in a better way. It does not try to sugarcoat Jobs' personality and takes you on a journey through a brilliant yet crazy mind of Jobs. Oscar Levant once said 'There is a thin line between genius and insanity'. Nothing personifies jobs better.

Any person in business must read this book. The most successful CEO of all times - this is a story of how self-belief, tenacity and iron-will can change the impossible into possible. Focus and follow your vision rest is mere distraction. If you are sane enough you'll disapprove of him, if you are crazy enough, you'll understand him. Here's to the crazies...
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insanely great! Nov. 15 2011
This book is highly detailed because the writer did over 200 interviews with Steve Jobs, I would strongly recommend this book to people who enjoy biographies and non-fiction books!
Its insanely great!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Completely misses the boat about the key influence of psychedelics on Steve Jobs! A failure to manifest journalistic curiosity about the central source of creative motivation in Jobs' life. Steve himself claimed that those who had not taken LSD would never understand him. Maybe Walter Isaacson didn't, but then what possessed Jobs to choose him as a biographer?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insanely Great Read Aug. 24 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I give this 5 Stars because I couldn't put it down: it was very, very well presented & it grants the reader a glimpse inside the esoteric processes of creating those 'dents in the universe' that define Steve Jobs.

There are, however, missing pieces...for example, I get the sense that I got to know Steve the business man but barely penetrate Steve the human. I attribute this to Steve himself, I see his desire to keep our 'fingers out of his machines' as a reflection of his own guarded inner life.

Issacson did do a great job of skimming the surface of Jobs the human. Maybe one day in the future we will find out more about this man's inner life.

A remarkable & inspiring read. Much like the subject himself.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars book
very good book
Published 27 days ago by Claude Couillard
5.0 out of 5 stars I thought I knew everything I ever needed to know ...
I thought I knew everything I ever needed to know about Steve Jobs and Apple, but once I started reading the book I realized this was not the case and I couldn't put it down.
Published 28 days ago by Rodger Hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars Insanely good
change the world.
Published 29 days ago by wayne lo
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Interesting book.
Published 1 month ago by Inessa
5.0 out of 5 stars seminal work on jobs
good - reads a little like a chronological order of events, but very objective and there were lots of things I learned about steve jobs.
Published 1 month ago by pavicnat
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
as expected.
Published 2 months ago by Yuanbin Qin
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
liked it.
Published 2 months ago by Donald Kehrig
5.0 out of 5 stars A good balance of describing his personal life and career...
A good balance of describing his personal life and career accomplishments. Both the good and the bad are fully covered leaving the reader to decide how they feel about the man.
Published 2 months ago by John Sloan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good read ... couldn't put it down!
Published 2 months ago by S. Klassen
5.0 out of 5 stars A Man Who Truly Merits an Exhaustive Biography
Book could have been shortened and not lost anything. That said, it's a fascinating glimpse of a true creative giant of our times, a man who developed a half dozen transformative... Read more
Published 2 months ago by booklover54
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