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Book Review: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I'm neither an Apple sycophant nor a devoted fan of Steve Jobs. I've never personally bought an Apple product, though, over the years I have used or tried nearly all of Apple's most iconic products from the Apple II and the original Macintosh personal computers through to the various versions of the iPod, iPad and iPhone.

So when I received Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson, a paperback tome of 568 pages, as a gift, I was some what sceptical that I'd make it all the way through.
There was no question that I wasn't going to give it a real good go. It is Steve Jobs after all. No matter what you think about him there's no doubting he's had a massive impact on the world and the way we use technology.

Much to my relief, and most unexpectedly, Walter Isaacson's writing style is extremely accessible and never gets bogged down in so much detail that you lose interest in the section you're reading. At the same time he provides enough information that by the end you feel you've got a fairly complete picture of Steve Jobs the man, his life, vision and Apple as a company.

Walter Isaacson began writing the book at Steve's request and was given plenty of access to Steve, his family, friends and key players in the rise and rise and fall and rise again of Apple. It makes for a complete picture of not just Steve but also the inner workings of Apple, NeXt and Pixar, all businesses that Steve helped either start, change and evolve.

You also get insights into Steve's relationships with other key industry figures, in particular Steve Wozneak (Apple's original co-founder), Jony Ive (chief designer at Apple), Bill Gates (Microsoft's founder and former CEO) and John Lasseter (co-founder of Pixar).

It feels like nothing is hidden. It's not all about Steve's genius, you also get to see him at his worst with his appalling way of treating and manipulating people he had no respect for. To be honest my overall impression of Steve is that I'm thankful I've never had to work with anyone even remotely like him when it comes to poor treatment of people who didn't measure up.

As interesting as the whole book is, what really left the biggest impression on me is that iPad's, which seem like common place now, were first launched half way through President Obama's first term, roughly six years ago. Even in my own blog I was writing about The Mythical World of Tablet Computing as recently as December 2009. For me that was a bit of a reality check on how fast technology has progressed.

Steve Jobs has undoubtedly changed the world for the better, particularly in technology and the arts. However, he didn't do it alone. If you have a real interest in knowing the key players that shaped much of the world you live in then this book is very much a look behind the curtain.

I'm not sure I'd describe it as inspirational but if you have a garage business, Steve's biography is the ultimate in how far a garage business can go with plenty of hard work, determination and an uncanny ability to distort reality to suit your purpose.

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