Walter Isaacson shares new information on his best-selling biography of the Apple founder

“Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs has topped The New York Times bestseller’s list for eight consecutive weeks now,” Adam Lashinsky reports for Fortune.

“arlier in the month I interviewed Isaacson for a sold-out audience of the Commonwealth Club of Northern California in San Francisco,” Lashinsky reports. “For all that has been written about Isaacson’s book and for all the people who have read it, there is plenty left to say.”

Lashinsky reports, “Asked what he left out of the book, Isaacson says he omitted some particularly hurtful material. That’s interesting, given the amount of raw personal material he included. Asked a couple times how Jobs’s family reacted, Isaacson tersely says he ‘can’t speak for them.’ His terseness likely is telling.”

Much more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. Of all the conjecture about Apple post SJ, to me there’s one major unanswered question that stands out – who from Apple will sit in front of a supplier, programmer or creative team and literally will them to create in a very short time frame something they otherwise would consider highly impractical or totally impossible?

  2. Sure he knows this, but I’ll write it anyway: Walter, your effort on this book wasn’t really very good or all that insightful — and you’re only selling all of those books because of who you wrote about. Not a soul will ever say, “Read that Steve Jobs book. It’s so well told!”

    I found the book informative and probably honest, but it was a very bland and lifeless portrait. There was little color or feeling, and what there was of emotion was fleeting.

    Either no one opened up to Walter and he’s a terrible interviewer, or he rushed the book so much as to suck any sort of warmth from it.

    Did I mention I didn’t like the book that much?

      1. Couldn’t honestly tell you. He’s an extremely respected and honored writer. My plan was to read Jobs’ book and then dive into his books on Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, which I may still do.

        Maybe he writes “better” stuff about people who were already dead when he researched them. I just kept waiting in the Steve Jobs book for some deep questions/responses from the subjects and it never felt like they came. It felt more like we were driving briskly through his life, pointing at landmarks along the way but moving too fast to really take a look.

        In one instance, he describes how one of Jobs’ daughters surprises him by saying she’d grant an interview. Completely killed the kids’ credibility and made her look like a media whore when maybe all she wanted was to the chance to comment on her father . . . seemed unnecessary to say in passing that she asked to be interviewed, and I don’t recall if he even dove into what she thought (to me, the thoughts of the next generation who lived with the man their entire life was a great place to find out more about who he was, guess not though). Many other examples of odd conjecture instead of just telling us what Steve and others said.

        I loved reading about Steve Jobs, just thought there was a human element that was lacking. There was nothing technically wrong with it . . . but maybe I was looking for more than technical writing.

        1. @MidWest – Now I understand what you mean about “rushed to publish”. His odd conjecture about the daughter raises questions about her when the story should be about her father. Perhaps comparing his work on “Einstein” and “Benjamin Franklin” with the contemporary biography “SJ” is a faulty comparison. Let’s see what he does with his Amy Winehouse biography.

          [just kidding folks]

        2. Seems to me it would not be fair to compare Steve’s bio to reverse engineered bios of Einstein, etc, simply because Isaacson never walked and talked with them. As time slips by, history becomes legend and great people who lived long ago become afforded with greatness of achievement and personality while their transgressions are minimized or forgotten. Likely the truest indicator that time unduly elevates people is that in their own eras they usually did not stand out.

          One thing is clear in Isaacson’s bio, and why it’s so polarizing; Steve was unlike any other run of the mill CEO on this earth. Any other CEO would have comissioned an overly masticated, glowing account, highlighting all their charitable pandering while glossing over their human frailties and/or outright infidelities. The fact this book exists as-is, is a testament to Steve and his mindset; I am human = visionary, pedant, polarizing, happy, angry, dedicated, dismissive, driven, brilliant, and sometimes dumb or plain selfish … yeah, just like everyone else on this planet. He believed anyone who asserts they are otherwise is lying for the sake of image, to themselves first and everyone else later.

  3. It was already said, but it has to be said again. This book was planned to be released in March of 2012.

    So, of course, it is seriously lacking in terms of content, it is a rushed effort indeed. Like 200 pages a missing, some important deeds and times of Jobs’ life are not covered at all.

    And other important events are left without any Jobs’ commentary at all. Obviously, this will not be corrected in the future and people will be left to believe that what Isaacson wrote about it is a “gospel”.

    There is almost no description of Jobs’ personal input in products Apple released. Jobs’ patents only mentioned couple of times, and one time it was like “Jobs written in himself as primary inventor”, though it was never Jobs who assigns people as inventors’ in Apple’s patents — Apple has legal/patent department which does it.

    (And if it was Jobs, then why he listed only in less than one tenth of Apple’s patents, and why even among these more than three hundred he listed as primary inventor only in few tens of patents?

    Obviously, because inventors are listed accurately. Yet Isaacson completely dismissed any personal Jobs’ efforts besides picking designs and solutions by other people. Walter fell into his own cliche about who Jobs was and was not.)

    1. “Obviously, this will not be corrected in the future…”

      I fully expect Isaacson to write another book or a new edition of this book with the “missing” pages from this book.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.