Book Review: Steve Jobs – An Insanely Great Biography

This article was first published in Mayoor Magazine March-April 2012.

Before I start this review, let me confess, this book is massive. It possibly contains everything that Steve did in his short but momentous life. It requires a lot of careful reading. You may even consider missing out some chapters that do not interest you, because that will not hinder your understanding of the later part of the book.

When I borrowed this book from the School Library, I had absolutely no idea that it will take nearly two months for me to complete it. The entire Library Dept. was after me to return the book and I thank them for their patience and cooperation that enabled me to review the book for Mayoor!

Whenever you hold the book in your hand, you definitely feel you are holding something compelling. As I slowly read the book, I experienced a range of emotions while learning about Jobs’ life, trials, inventions, suffering, genius and, ultimately, death. By the close of the book, I was emotionally spent.

Born in 1955 (ironically the same year of Bill Gates’ birth), Jobs grew up at a very unique time in American history, he was born to initiate the technology boom in the world.  Once physically filthy and prone to bouts of introspection, Jobs was definitely an odd man — and someone who didn’t take kindly to things like bathing and footwear, apparently. But his genius was evident from the time he was a teen, and he built Apple from the ground up through sheer determination and the ability to bend others to his will.

Make no mistake: Jobs wasn’t the sweetest guy around. He could be sour, angry, off-putting and vile. He did not care for any emotions of his employees where work was concerned and did not mind abusing people from time to time. He did not believe in intermediate advices. For him, things were either ‘insanely great’ or ‘stupid’. His standards were exacting, his moods mercurial; as quickly as he could shift from unhappiness to pleasure, friends and colleagues would be left sorting out the demands he’d make of their time and talents.

After conducting more than 40 interviews with Jobs over the course of two years, Isaacson has created an epic masterpiece that neither downplays Jobs’ incredible accomplishments nor places him on a pedestal. After finishing Steve Jobs, I felt I was provided a very balanced perspective on what made Jobs great and what also made him undeniably, completely human.

And at the end of the day? Even after hearing about his “reality distortion field” and ability to manipulate anyone into doing his bidding, even (and especially) his own parents? I still liked the guy. I felt for him.

Though I found myself weighed down by the sheer volume of material, the story kept my attention throughout.

Jobs’ adoption, relationships and family were of the most interest to me, and Isaacson did a great job balancing the more “personal” information with Jobs’ professional accomplishments. It never read like a flashy gossip piece, and Jobs himself commented on the foolish decisions he made when young — and the regrets he had about certain aspects of life, especially how he treated his parents and abandoned his first daughter, Lisa.

Regardless of how we may perceive him, Jobs was certainly an innovator whose absence has left a tremendous void. At the end of Isaacson’s biography, which Jobs never read nor controlled, I felt a bothering sense of anxiety that the dreams Jobs had yet to realize — the goals he’d set; the products he wanted to launch and explore — have vanished into the air, vanished with his death.

I only hope that Apple goes on making its signature products, all of which, till today at least, have shook the world on their release.

All said and done, Jobs was certainly one of a kind.

4.5 out of 5!

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One comment on “Book Review: Steve Jobs – An Insanely Great Biography

  1. Girish Kumar says:

    Good job done Mridul! I was reminded of a chapter in the book OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell in which he discusses the life and time of Jobs and Gates and talks about the secrets behind the success of the duo… That book is also worth reading… Do try to grab a copy and make use of your summer vacation… :)

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