Audiobook: Steve Jobs

by Walter Isaacson
Read by Dylan Baker
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: Steve Jobs had a foul mouth. You are forewarned. Also, it’s a bit on the business-y side. It’s in the biography section at the bookstore.

I don’t know why, really, I picked this up. I’m not a computer person, or even an Apple fan (though I do own an iPhone). I needed something short to listen to while I drove around delivering things one day, and this kind of jumped out at me.

It’s a basic biography of Steve Jobs, the founder and eventual CEO of Apple computers and CEO of Pixar. Isaacson, a reporter, was picked by Jobs before his death in 2011 to write this book, and given access to all sorts of information that Jobs, who was someone who valued complete control, usually didn’t divulge.

I did learn a lot of things about Jobs, computers, the 1970s, business and the intersection between all of them. First and foremost: Jobs wasn’t a nice person. Which got me to wondering: are all people at a high level of business — either CEOs or just high up in the business — generally work-obsessed jerks? If so, what does that say about us as a country, that in order to be “successful” and proclaimed “innovative” and “a genius” we have to treat other people like crap?

The other thing I learned about Jobs was that he was just an Idea Man. He worked, sure, but it was managing and thinking outside the box and demanding things of others, but he never really created anything himself. I don’t know if I had any respect for him to lose, but knowing that he just thought up the ideas rather than actually implementing them changed my perception of him.

Did I like the book? Not really. It was kind of long and a little boring. Part of that may have been the narrator, who wasn’t the most engaging. But part of that was Isaacson’s writing: it was meandering and a bit pandering. Not something (or someone) I would want to read again.

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