Sunday, 12 October 2014

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson – Book Review



Publisher’s write-up:

The Exclusive Biography, Isaacson provides an extraordinary account of Jobs' professional and personal life. Drawn from three years of exclusive and unprecedented interviews Isaacson has conducted with Jobs as well as extensive interviews with Jobs' family members and key colleagues from Apple and its competitors, Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography is the definitive portrait of the greatest innovator of his generation.’

We all know about Steve Jobs and the company that he created. I’ve never been a fan of the company that he created and in fact, till date, the only Apple Product that I use is iTunes which is free; nevertheless, I’ve been an admirer of Steve Jobs, for the enterprise that he has created – considering its origin, his ouster and the marvellous turnaround and I always wanted to know more regarding the same and hence, this book was an obvious choice.

The good thing about this biography is that I believe it is fairly accurate, considering it is Jobs himself who has asked Isaacson to take up this project and the latter claims to have come up with this book after a hundred interviews with Jobs, his family and friends. But then, before I chose to read this book, my respect for Steve Jobs was quite high but then, as I started reading this, it was crumbling apart – he was a highly arrogant, self-opinionated who did not accept anything other than his point of view (someone with whom I’d certainly not like to work with). Another problem that I found was that he had this nature to keep everything under his control and that attempt often leads to a lot of problems (this attitude of his could be seen in his products too – where Apple does everything – hardware, software, OS, and everything else). In a way, I felt, Steve Jobs’ story could’ve very well been a case study in management schools on how not to be if not for his success.

However, as I read on, especially after his ouster from Apple, I began to regain the respect, considering his tenacity to stay on the top and creating a successful enterprise in a considerably different field (animated films) not that his personality ever underwent a change despite all that he has been through. The eventual turnaround he achieved with Apple was also well narrated but then, in the last part of the book, my admiration was falling apart yet again, considering him hitting out at competitors for plagiarism, considering he himself believes that great artists steal thereby indulging in such blatant hypocrisy (regarding Google’s Android and Microsoft in general). In a way, you could say that the respect I had for Steve Jobs moved like a cosine graph as I was reading this book.

Coming to the book as such, as aforementioned, I believe this would be the most credible biography on Steve Jobs ever, and I believe Isaacson has done a good job in presenting the same, in terms of language and also structure – where it was fairly chronological rather than moving backwards and forth. But then, I felt it was too long a description of events that occasionally puts you off, especially, in cases where you know what was going to happen (regarding Steve Jobs’ ouster or Apple taking over NeXT). Moreover, I found some of the facts to be repetitive during the course of the book, being Jobs not believing in the idea of products being customisable or the fact of Jobs being a perfectionist. I guess that is all I’ve got to say about this book – it is a very good book for all those Apple fans, Steve Jobs admirers or even for those interested in reading on influential people. I choose to not comment on Jobs’ personal life for that is not why I admire him and also, it is not my concern in anyway and as a result, I don’t comment on the personal aspects of the book.

I’d conclude saying that this is a good read, just too long (and I’m not a fan of Apple but Jobs and I’m not sure of that either, now).  I’d say that it is a good book to read and hence, award a rating of six on ten.

Rating – 6/10

Have a nice day,
Andy

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