Book Review: Steve Jobs biography provides fascinating insight into legendary Apple CEO


Walter Isaacson's book Steve Jobs chronicles the life of the recently deceased former CEO of Apple Inc. Jobs' impact on the music, phone, computer and tablet industries is best described as ubiquitous. The plethora of iPhones, iPods, iPads and MacBooks on campus would not exist without Jobs.

Issacson, through extensive interviews with Jobs and his coworkers, recounts the founding of Apple and the creation of iconic products that made Jobs famous. Issacson's narrative highlights Jobs' perfectionism and extreme attention to detail. For instance, Jobs spent almost an hour deciding which shade of gray he wanted for the restroom signs at Apple stores. Jobs even took this perfectionism and applied it to his body. In an attempt to purify the body, Jobs periodically ate only carrots or apples for weeks at a time.

One of the most interesting passages details the development of the original iPhone. Due to Jobs' meticulous nature, the iPhone faced countless revisions until the current iPhone met Jobs' hefty expectations. Instead of the touchscreen that we now see as the iPhone's essential quality, the first iPhone prototypes used the scroll wheels that were found on the original iPods. Issacson provides many more background stories of Apple products, giving interesting insight into Apple's – and Jobs' – creative process.

Since Jobs is such a unique, captivating individual, it does not require great effort on Issacson's part to make Steve Jobs a success. A writer could not create a fictional character more interesting and entertaining. When Jobs was younger, he dropped acid, refused to shower and traveled to India seeking spiritual enlightenment. At Apple, Jobs was known to fire employees on the spot, scream at those who disagreed with him and cry when he did not get his way.

At 571 pages, Steve Jobs represents a detailed and extensive account of Jobs' life. While this will please Apple fanatics who long for every detail of the former CEO's life, those looking for a casual read may find the detailed account dull. Fortunately, scattered throughout these dry patches are interesting tidbits of information which are able to hold the reader's attention.

Sadly, Jobs did not live to see the publication of his biography. He died on Oct. 5, 2011 from complications due to pancreatic cancer. When Jobs was first diagnosed with cancer in 2004, he asked Issacson to begin writing his biography. For the past seven years, Issacson kept in constant contact with Jobs to construct an accurate and detailed record of his life. Overall, Issacson's Steve Jobs is a fitting tribute to the man who will have a lasting impact on our digital lives for years to come.