Meet Walter Isaacson, the man who won Steve Jobs’ trust

“Apple’s January 2010 iPad event was packed cheek to jowl with the famous and well-connected, from John Doerr to Al Gore,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune. “But I was still surprised see my old Time magazine editor in the middle of the action. What in the world was Walter Isaacson doing at an Apple event in San Francisco?”

“The answer came two and a half weeks later in the New York Times, which reported that Steve Jobs — having fought off a long list of would-be biographers over the years — had chosen Isaacson to write, with Jobs’ help, the story of his life,” P.E.D. reports. “The news came as no surprise to anyone who has worked with Isaacson. If there is one thread that runs through his long career in journalism and public service, it’s his talent for spotting the most influential people in any room and finding a way to get close to them.”

P.E.D. reports, “Simon & Schuster announced Sunday that the first authorized biography of Steve Jobs — iSteve: The Book of Jobs by Walter Isaacson — will be published in early 2012.”

Read more in the full article here.

26 Comments

    1. This is the very first thing that came to my mind when I read that Jobs had picked this guy to write his bio. This strikes me as out of character.

  1. The best book I ever read about Apple was written by Michael Malone, “Infinite Loop” published in 1999 at the cusp of Steve Jobs’ return as iCEO of Apple Computer Inc. He goes on to describe the hubris at Apple during the start up phase with Woz, the John Sculley years, the Gil Amelio “Hail Mary” of buying NeXT and bringing back Jobs to the helm.

    Read it for a historical context of how far Apple Inc. has come from the first tottering steps of reviving a company on the brink of death and how Steve Jobs formed a team of pirates in Bandley Drive with the famous phrase, “It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy.”

    Lovely.

  2. I’ve said it before: I wish Jobs hadn’t allowed/given official blessings to anyone to write his bio.

    I feel, all there is to know about an artist is in his work. If you want to know about SJ even more intimately, maybe look under the motherboards, or measure the precise spacings between the soldering, the minute difference of weights between the front and back faceplates of the iPhones etc. For the man has revealed himself more in his work and accomplishments, everyday. His art continues to ship, and ship well.

    I don’t know if I can trust Mr. Isaacson to explain SJ to his fans, better than Jobs has been. Certainly, that cringe-worthy pun fest of a book title “iSteve: The Book of Jobs” (seriously??!!) doesn’t lend much confidence in the author.

    Is it too late for you to take back the official blessings, Mr. Jobs. Let the world speculate all they want about the “good Steve bad Steve” silliness. Trust your own work to speak for themselves to the future fans and historians.

    1. Motivation and intent are important, too, as are the paths that take a team from concept development through iteration and testing to final release. Long term planning, marketing, logistics, investments in suppliers, cooperative development of technologies, team interactions, management strategies, etc. – all of these things are critical if you truly understand Apple or aspire to be one of the next generation of “magic workers.” You won’t find any of these things described on a motherboard or in the thickness of an iPhone 4.

      Apple products can and do stand for themselves. But I want to know the stories behind the products from the people who were there in the trenches.

      1. I do too, kingmel. You’re raised a good counter argument, and I realise a lot of fans would like many of these “critical things”, aspirations and strategic decisions straight from the horse’s mouth. I am, just so happens an engineer myself, not one of them.

        I do expect, a good lot of folks who know Mr. Jobs intimately, whether they are ex or current Apple employees or from his social scenes, would also share many stories of this man for decades after he is gone. Some of those stories will be biased against him, not unlike the outrageous ones already in print; however, I think much more will see him in more positive light as he has been in so many of our lives.

        I just feel, Steve Jobs not clearing up the records, would be a very Jobsian thing to do. He’d be remain so unlike the Woz or Gates of this world (not that there’s anything wrong with them necessarily). Steve Jobs is unique and never uni-dimensional. Not sure if iSteve will live up to that standard.

    2. Wowee!
      Steve designs the motherboards too?
      And I thought he was the CEO, running the company; unless that means Chief Engineering Officer? I dunno!
      I know that if you look at every single solder-joint on any motherboard, of any Apple device, you’ll find the micro flux etching of the words ‘Personally inspected and approved by Steven P Jobs’, plus the date and time stamp.
      I checked.
      It’s true.
      A zillion times over. It’s true.
      Man, that guy is a true perfectionist.

  3. The Book of Jobs… Clever.

    His many different roles in the creation of Apple.

    Perhaps a slight biblical allusion: “The Book of Job” alluding to the fact that he was afflicted with many troubles like Job.

  4. I can’t think of a better person to do this.

    Two of the best reads I have had in the last ten years were ‘Einstein’ and ‘Ben Franklin’, of which I have a signed copy.

    I “met” Mr. Isaacson in a small bookstore in Aspen in 2007 after a discussion of Franklin with a Q & A similar to what you see on C-SPAN, only ‘cozier’.

    I know our politics differ, but he seems very fair and open.

    (I also saw him around the same time at the Aspen Institute when the guest speaker was none other than…..John Edwards, who took several early question to get the crowd going, one being from a certain blonde, and two other questions as staged as his marriage.)

    My only concern would be the kids gloves that may be worn out of respect for Steve, intentional or not, that would not reveal some of the ‘unGodLike’ moves he has made. He is, after all, still human.

  5. This Steve Jobs biography book/iBook will be required Business reading and for the young students for generations to come.
    A manual to how to start and restart an American company gone global to number 1 in market capitalization yet followed with loyalty by a billion owners!!!

    Buy AAPL stocks! 🙂

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