The Exclusive Biography
Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography
By Walter Isaacson
Global publication date: 22 November, 2011
1 Is the book is good as we have all been hoping?
This is the best bit of news. The book is extraordinarily good. It’s easily as good as we’d all hoped it would be. No, in fact that’s wrong: it’s way better than we’d all hoped.
Imagine how good you thought it might be. Then double that – at least.
2 Does it contain details about his private life?
The narrative of his personal life builds throughout the book beginning with one distinct chapter, then another, then another, until gradually his personal and professional lives become intertwined. There is material on his parents, on how he came to be adopted (and quite a bit, throughout the book, on his attitude to his adoption), his influences during his childhood, his emerging attitude to life, his girlfriends, his wife and his children. There is new material in amongst all of this and many, many gripping stories. Ordinarily, we don’t get to hear much about Steve Jobs’s private life – but there is a lot here.
3 Does it mention his illness and his attitude to it?
Yes. This is dealt with in considerable depth. I don’t want to say too much here but there is a great deal of intimate detail in the book.
4 Does the book give a balanced view of Steve Jobs?
Yes, very much so. It has been written with exclusive access to Steve Jobs and to those he has lived and worked with over the years. However, it is by no means a whitewash. This is the only biography of Steve Jobs there ever has been or ever will be that has been written with the benefit of Jobs’s full co-operation. But it is not authorized, which means that it is very honest, with the truth always in its sights.
The intricacies of Steve’s character are revealed through the events of his life story. This means that his less praiseworthy attributes are in evidence throughout – as much as his qualities. It’s the combination of the two that is most fascinating, and the book subtly explores where the many parts of Steve Jobs come from and why they came to create such a successful and remarkable man.
5 Do we feel like we really know him by the end?
One of the most extraordinary aspects of the book is just how effectively Walter Isaacson makes Steve Jobs come alive on the page. His visionary attributes, his stubbornness, his temper, his purist instinct, his obsession with design, his focus on detail, his charm, his inspiration to others – these are all very apparent and grow as the book gets a greater and greater hold over the reader. By the time you turn the last page, you will want nothing more than to have somehow had the opportunity to have a conversation with him, to have heard him pronounce first hand on some intricacy of design or the overview of a business deal.
6 Does it contain new insights into how Apple works and how it has made such huge accomplishments and breakthroughs?
This is a biography, but it is also the most inspiring, most insightful business book one could imagine. Apple is such a unique organization that has excelled in almost every area through force of will, through hard work, through vision, through perfectionism and through the most canny market awareness and deal-making and breaking. Jobs’s role in all of this is a huge part of this book. Anyone who has an aspiration or drive in whatever their career may be – in marketing, in management, in design, in technology – will want to read this book. Like some of the greatest business autobiographies - by Jack Welch or Richard Branson, for example – this book will be indispensable to anyone who cares about his or her career and who wants to do great things at work.
7 Does it contain material about Apple’s relationships with its competitors?
Apple vs Google; Apple vs Microsoft; Pixar and Disney; Apple and Disney; Apple and the big record companies (Sony, EMI etc); Apple vs Apple (as in The Beatles). It’s all here.
At the heart of this story are two fundamental questions: a) where does creativity come from in a digital world? and b) how do you reconcile the ownership of new technology/music/books/journalism with ever-increasing access to content? These are questions of both philosophical outlook and business. Should there be open access to everything or ever-increasing control? The relations between Apple and the companies listed above show how the answers to these questions have played out over recent decades and will develop in the future. Steve Jobs has always been at the centre of this.
8 How readable is the book?
Easy answer. It’s a page turner. Genuinely and absolutely. If you’ve ever thought upmarket biography is not for you, think again.
9 Did Steve Jobs control who Walter Isaacson spoke to when researching the book?
No. Jobs had an amazingly open attitude to this. He wanted Isaacson to have contact with as many people as possible from his life, even when he knew they wouldn’t necessarily have positive things to say about him. A huge number of interviews went into this book.
10 How much time did the author have with Steve Jobs himself?
This was a major project for Steve as well as Walter. The book is based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs over two years – as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors and colleagues. The manuscript is peppered with references to Walter’s interviews with Steve, conversations, shared meals etc, and this also gives the narrative a certain charm.
11 Are there exclusive illustrations?
Yes, there will be. I haven’t seen them yet but I’m told they will be exceptionally good.
Think biography. Think different.
Number Of Pages: 656
Published: 25th October 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.1 x 16.0 x 5.6
Weight (kg): 1.03
Edition Number: 1
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An extraordinary book which gives a unique insight into the life and thinking of the man who has single-handedly transformed the world.
Written from hours of interviews with Steve Jobs himself, family, friends, colleagues and rivals.
‘In the early summer of 2004, I got a phone call from Steve Jobs . . . It turned out that he wanted me to write a biography of him . . .
This is a book about the rollercoaster 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. You might even add a seventh: retail stores, which Jobs did not quite revolutionize, but he did reimagine. Plus, he opened the way for a new market for digital content based on apps.
This is also, I hope, a book about innovation . . . Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness, imagination, and sustained innovation. He knew that the best way to create value in the 21st century was to connect creativity with technology, so he built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering’ – Walter Isaacson, from the Introduction of Steve Jobs
About the Author
Walter Isaacson is the author of the forthcoming biography “Steve Jobs.” His previous books include “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life,” “Einstein: His Life and Universe,” “Kissinger: A Biography,” and he is the coauthor, with Evan Thomas, of “The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made.” Isaacson is the CEO of the Aspen Institute. He was previously the editor of Time Magazine and the CEO of CNN. He was born in New Orleans, La., on May 20, 1952. He is a graduate of Newman School in New Orleans, Harvard College, and Pembroke College of Oxford University. He serves as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other U.S. international broadcasts. He is also the chairman of the board of Teach for America. He is on the boards of United Continental Airlines, Bloomberg Foundation, Harvard Overseers, and Tulane University.