steve jobs

By Wal­ter Isaac­son, Si­mon & Schus­ter

NZ Today - - ON BOOKS -

Steve Jobs wasn't a very nice per­son, at least that is the sense I get from this no-holds-barred bi­og­ra­phy of the man who can be credited with mak­ing per­sonal com­put­ing avail­able and af­ford­able for the masses. How­ever, in spite of his ques­tion­able hy­giene (bathing was op­tional, he thought, as he fol­lowed a fruitar­ian diet), some­what in­tol­er­ant man­age­ment style (peo­ple were hired and fired at the drop of a hat, in­clud­ing Jobs him­self) and emo­tional de­meanour (he reg­u­larly cried in meet­ings), many of those who worked with him say it was the best ex­pe­ri­ence of their lives.

Wal­ter Isaac­son is a great writer. His style makes bits and bytes so easy to un­der­stand and quite frankly his story telling is riv­et­ing. Isaac­son was asked by Jobs to do the bi­og­ra­phy, but re­sisted for sev­eral years. He fi­nally suc­cumbed to the temp­ta­tion and the book is based on dozens of in­ter­views Isaac­son had with Jobs, his col­leagues, friends and fam­ily.

Many will know that Jobs was the mar­ket­ing guru and Steve Woz­niak the engineering ge­nius be­hind Ap­ple, but just how the defin­ing Ap­ple Macin­tosh came to fruition will fas­ci­nate read­ers. Th­ese gen­tle­men were chalk and cheese, but ul­ti­mately a mar­riage made in heaven.

The story is in­ter­wo­ven with Jobs' per­sonal life, in­clud­ing the aban­don­ment by his own bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents and his aban­don­ment of his first child. This side of the book is sad, but il­lus­trates that in spite of money and suc­cess, true hap­pi­ness and peace are not al­ways at­tain­able.

There was a car­ing side to Jobs as well, par­tic­u­larly with re­gards to his adop­tive par­ents and I found this par­tic­u­larly mov­ing. There is a mo­ment in the book where Jobs ac­knowl­edges to Isaac­son that in spite of deeply ad­mir­ing his en­tre­pre­neur­ial fa­ther, there came a point where he also knew that his fa­ther wasn't as in­tel­lec­tu­ally able as he was.

Steve Jobs was an enor­mously suc­cess­ful and bril­liant per­son but he was an enigma as many of his ilk are. He was un­pre­dictable and frag­ile, but his ge­nius trans­formed the IT in­dus­try and shaped the way we all use tech­nol­ogy.

This bi­og­ra­phy is a fas­ci­nat­ing ac­count of a in­trigu­ing per­son and I have looked for­ward to my 30 min­utes on the train over the past few weeks which has given me a chance to read it. Highly rec­om­mended.

Sarah Bradley

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