The technology community continues to reject Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs

The frustration with Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs continues. A week ago John Gruber pointed out a serious flaw in the biography and now Dave Winer and John Siracusa have joined in.

Dave Winer writes:

Choosing Walter Isaacson “was a terrible decision. My guess is that he didn’t put a lot of thought into the choice. Isaacson is exactly the kind of reporter he worked with for his whole career. People who don’t have any idea of what he does, or how tech products are developed. Who tell the same wrong heroic story over and over, one that sells magazines, but does not capture the process of developing tech products.”

And, from a commenter:

“I have found it to be extraordinarily repetitive on Jobs’ attitude, temper, control, and business competitiveness…I can’t tell how much of a technologist Jobs was or was not from his bio at all. And I can’t tell what his managerial approach was beyond telling people they could do better and coming back for the results.

“The story/bio is more clear on how he worked press and marketing, and perhaps those are as much the important parts in his mythology as others. Ultimately I don’t think this will let his kids know him well. Certainly it doesn’t let us know him well.”

I couldn’t agree more. Not only does Isaacson obsess over the conflicts in Steve’s life but he proclaims his diet and thinking “dubious” and wildly extreme. As if being a vegan is a new and strange concept, or if waiting to buy something because you want to do research is idiotic.

Continually, throughout the book I found myself wondering if Isaacson hates Steve Jobs, or has some personal issue with him. It reads not so much as a biography but as a series of conflicts that annoy Isaacson and interviews with Steve Jobs friends to confirm that annoyance.

I read it and enjoyed the new details about someone I admire, but I would not recommend this book to a friend. It would be better to wait for the next biographer to combine these new details into a real story that better understands this complex man.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *