By Walter Isaacson, Simon & Schuster
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.