Review of Steve Jobs

Review of Steve Jobs
by Walter Isaacson

I never caught the Apple craze because I went the PC route. PCs were more affordable and more people seemed to be using them when I entered the computer field in 1983. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a number of people trying to convert me to Apple, including my dad.

Steve Jobs was simply a name associated with a computer to me. I read a few stories about him and admired his spunk and drive, but didn’t know much about him. I didn’t follow his products in the computer magazines and didn’t read the articles about his business savvy in the journals. He was really just another name.

I did, however, read about his ouster from Apple and thought it was pretty unfair. I celebrated for him (quite low key, since I wasn’t a close follower of Apple affairs) when he returned years later.

My interest in Steve Jobs reached a new level with a book I happened upon on, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo (This is a great book, too, and I'll be reviewing it later). That led me to Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, the book I am reviewing here.


I look for three things in a biography. It has to be interesting. What sets this man or woman apart from the crowd? What makes their lives worthy of a 571 page treatment? If those questions don’t get answered in a chapter or two, I’ll close the book and move to another one.

Secondly, I look for something practical that I can apply to my life. What did the subject of the biography do to make them successful, and is there anything I can learn and apply to enhance my family or career?

Thirdly, I appreciate great biographical stories that move my spirit. I like a good laugh at the humorous experiences of their life. But I appreciate biographies that plunge the depths of despair a subject may have experienced, too. Finally, a mark of a great biography is if the stories and details of the person’s life occasionally make me pause, put the book down, and just reflect. What would it have been like to have walked in this guy’s shoes? How would I have responded differently had I been in his/her situation? Good biographies do more than entertain: they stir and motivate the reader.

Isaacson’s Steve Jobs met and exceeded all three criteria for me. Steve is a worthy subject of a lengthy biography! His early journey could have filled him with enough bitterness to choke any life or creativity out of him. But he didn’t allow that to happen. Instead of feeling anger toward the biological father that didn’t want him and the mother that gave him up, he embraced his adoptive father and mother with lasting gratitude. In an amazing show of compassion, Steve even comforted his biographical mother on her decision when he met her years later. (I wrote a post about that, Thanks For Not Aborting Me.)

Steve’s drive is especially noteworthy. Some of us think we work hard. Steve did. In the early days of Apple he and other employees of the company would work days on end. They did the same upon his return to Apple. He was dedicated to excellence, and no amount of energy or effort would be deprived the product or project he was working on. His example motivates me to rethink levels of dedication I expend on projects I am working on.

For the third criteria, there is plenty in this book to move my spirit. I laughed uproariously at several stories, especially his elementary school pranks. My spirit was moved with sadness when he lost his company and especially so when he was repeatedly victimized by cancer. I was also moved to reflect numerous times in accounts of his treatment of employees, and even his own family.

Isaacson showed Steve in all of his complex and multi-faceted nature. Sometimes he was kind and understanding; at other times he was as hard as steel, even to close and loyal friends. My attitude toward Steve moved between admiration, dislike, respect and pity. But, in the end, the one attitude that prevailed above the others is admiration. You have to admire a guy that takes an idea, begins working on it in a garage, and develops it into a billion-dollar enterprise.

Reading Steve Jobs did two other things for me, too. It has made me an Apple consumer. I just purchased my first Apple product, an iPod. I actually bought it from my daughter so she could put that money toward an iPhone. Ironically, my kids discussed buying me an iPod for Christmas but I said, “I don’t want one of those things.” Then, I started reading Steve Jobs, a Christmas gift, and decided I wanted “1,000 songs in my pocket.”

Secondly, it has made me a bigger fan of Walter Isaacon’s writing. I’m also reading his Benjamin Franklin, and it, too, is a compelling read. I’ll read more of his books.

If you have any interest in the life and work of Steve Jobs, you won’t be disappointed in this book that bears his name.

Warren Baldwin


Karin said...

Thanks so much for sharing these two stories from Isaacson's book!! Much appreciated. I would probably never pick up the book myself, but now you've got me interested.

Denise J. Hughes said...

Great review of this book! I haven't read it yet, but I keep passing the stacks of them in the aisle at Costco. Now I'll have to pick one up. I love reading biographies for all the reasons you mentioned here. Thanks for the great recommendation! Happy New Year!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks for sharing this review!

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

I felt the same as you, we have always had a PC...not yet an IPod. The book review is great

Diane said...

I really didn't know too much about him until he died. Very interesting! :O)

Warren Baldwin said...

Karin & Denise - I think you would both enjoy the biography of Jobs. In some ways I didn't discuss here, his was a very sad life. All that money, and yet no real faith in God and he never really achieved the bonding with his family like he should/could have. There is so much to learn from him though, and I think under all that drivenness was really a good heart. When I was finished reading, I was very glad to have read it, but couldn't help but wish for a different ending.

Tyrean - You are welcome, and thanks for reading.

Kim - Thanks. I'm wanting an iPod now. I understand you can listen to sermons/lectures on them, too.

Diane - Me too. I've learned far more about him since he passed away!