Open thread: What did you think of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography?

Many MacDailyNews readers have been emailing us with their reactions and mini-reviews of “Steve Jobs,” Walter Isaacson’s biography of the late Apple co-founder.

The comments we’ve received so far range from “loved every page of it” and “couldn’t put it down” to “impersonal and detached” and “missed the full gist of the man.”

If you’ve read the book, what did you think of it?

Steve Jobs” is available via Apple’s iBookstore for US$14.99 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch here.

78 Comments

    1. Enjoying the hard cover at home, iBook on the road..

      For an interesting conversation about the book, check 5by5.tv for The Talk Show with John Gruber and Dan Benjamin, episode #66.

    1. Same here. Read bits and pieces so far.

      @vanfruniken
      calm down, some people have to work. and WAY too much recently i might add…
      I’m on vacation the week of Thanksgiving. it will be the first time i’ll have “free” time in months..
      I went fishing a few weeks back with my Dad on his birthday, beyond that.. stuck at work. no time to read.

    2. The average US citizen who buys a book never gets past page 17. If you search for the statistics on reading books, you find that over 80% of high school graduates never read another book in their life time. When you consider college graduates, the number drops to 50%. I wonder who is actually reading books on the Kindle?

      1. I read it the day it came from Amazon. Easy read. Good biography not great. Tells it like it is. Jobs was not a nice guy. That is so related. Jobs was a driven man. So related. If you want to read a book about Apple and feel good read Woz. It tells it as it is. But Woz is a wonderful human being. After reading both books I know who I would love to sit down and have a meal with and talk about everything he had accomplished in life. And it would be at Bob’s Big Boy because he does love him some burger. mmmmmmmm

  1. I know there weren’t enough pages, but I wanted more on his early life. I guess the most fascinating part for me was the transition from “wandering kid” to millionaire business man. It’s good to see how human and even unexpected it all was. That, for me, was the most incredible part of the story.

  2. Although I haven’t finished it yet, I find it a very enjoyable read. Even though some of the stuff we knew, it’s nice to get a behind the scenes view of Steve and Apple and fill in some of those gaps that we were not privy to before, i.e. Antenna-gate. I liked his frankness and his desire to put the truth out there, at least as he saw it, regardless whether it painted him in a positive or negative light. The inclusion of other unfiltered viewpoints added an extra dimension to the book and enabled us to see how Steve was viewed by others, good or bad. I highly recommend this book and wish Steve well as he endeavors to reengineer Heaven.

  3. Just finished reading it on my iPad2. The book was fabulous and Walter captured the essence of Steve. I never realized that Steve was such a complicated person and admire his passion for perfection even more. The legend lives on!

  4. I thought it was a good read, but not a particularly pleasant experience. The author seemed to go out of his way to make this a non-flattering “warts and all” biography and I knew before reading the book that SJ had a reputation for being confrontational and often rude to the people around him.

    However, I think Isaacson went to far in that direction and the result is that the first half of the book is filled with arguments, tears and angst. This may reflect reality but for the geeks among us (or at least for me) there wasn’t enough detail on the technology and the way that the products were developed.

    For example, not much was explained about OSX and it’s contribution to Apple’s success, OSX is in some ways the most important and impressive achievement and the basis of Apple’s current success, but the author seemed more interested in moving along quickly to the next emotional outburst.

    Anyway, a well written book, but IMHO not the definitive biography, at least I hope not.

    1. I had similar feelings, and in some ways the book diminshed Jobs in my eyes. I’m only half way through it, savoring it, so my impressions are incomplete. It’s a page turner for sure. Loved the part on “Think Different.” Chaffed a bit when he said the “aluminum” antennae the Jobs and Ives thought of backfired as a design flaw. Pretty much thought that myth was dispelled….especially since the band around iphone 4 is stainless steel, and works wonderfully. The book confirmed what I have thought for years. That Apple products through their software, simplicity, and design are superior to all else.

      All in all, I look forward to each evening when I can curl up with the book. I highly recommend!

    2. I haven’t got to that part yet, but you have to remember the book is about Steve Jobs… not a technical or business impact analysis of OSX, or of Apple. Both (and many other things) formed a big part of Jobs’ life, of course, but a biography is not the place to cover them in detail.

      1. I haven’t got to that part, either, but I would hope that we get at least as much detail about SJ’s technical achievements as we do about, say, his dad’s love of cars. “Steve Jobs the man” is reflected in his products and designed decisions to a much greater extent then any other aspect of his life.

      1. Yeah, but “Steve Jobs the man”, is someone who lived his whole life with a passion and workaholic attitude for technology and devices. We wouldn’t know about him otherwise. If the book doesn’t deal with this aspect of the man, adequately, then he’s just another asshole who got rich, not very interesting.

    3. Yes, that’s my thinking exactly on the “warts and all” approach, that he was so intent to cover the warts that he slightly ignored the inspirational side. It’s not a damning criticism at all – the book is a great achievement – but Mona Simpson’s wonderful eulogy showed another side of the man that was really only indirectly revealed in the book.

      Yes of course a eulogy is one-sided, but the Jobs that people would walk barefoot over broken glass for was kind of hidden in the book – I think Isaacson was at great pains to be seen as someone who wasn’t affected by the Reality Distortion Field.

      Had Jobs lived another year, would have been riveting to get his reaction.

      No other author will of course ever have the advantage of Isaacson’s 40 interviews with Jobs, so I think this is about as definitive as we will ever get, and that’s OK.

  5. I’m sure this was the book that Jobs wanted, but from a purely selfish point of view, I would have liked to have had the book focus much more on the intricacies of his past – and future – creations. It’s not that I don’t recognized that the man had a dark side. I do. But it is his creativity and his genius that most fascinates me and most interests me.

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