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Steve Jobs in 'tell all' book

Maggie Shiels | 09:32 UK time, Monday, 11 April 2011

When it hits e-book shelves, it is guaranteed to be a best seller. Next year a biography of the man who has arguably shaken up a few businesses and changed the way we think and deal with technology will go on sale.

Steve Jobs, the man who is known as one of the most secretive in Silicon Valley, has been co-operating with a biography of his life.

Steve Wozniack (l) and Steve Jobs (r) with the Apple 1 computer

Steve Wozniack and Steve Jobs with the Apple 1 computer

Gossip about such a book has been doing the rounds for a while in the Valley but until publishers Simon & Schuster confirmed it this weekend, those rumours seemed nothing more than just that.
"This is the perfect match of subject and author, and it is certain to be a landmark book about one of the world's greatest innovators," Jonathan Karp, publisher of Simon & Schuster, said in a statement.
"Just as he did with Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, Walter Isaacson is telling a unique story of revolutionary genius."

The biography will be called iSteve: The Book of Jobs. Its author , has previously written Einstein: His Life and Universe, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life and Kissinger: A Biography. Mr Isaacson was also a former executive at CNN and Time magazine.

Apparently Mr Isaacson has already carried out a series of interviews with Mr Jobs, his family, friends, colleagues and competitors. One report stated that he had even toured Mr Jobs' childhood home.

Fortune's Phillip Elmer DeWitt said when he was at the launch of the original iPad last year, he was surprised to see his former boss among the assembled journalists and analysts. On reflection, he said, the choice of Mr Isaacson as Mr Jobs' official biographer made perfect sense.

"The news came as no surprise to anyone who has worked with Isaacson. If there is one thread that runs through his long career in journalism and public service, it's his talent for spotting the most influential people in any room and finding a way to get close to them.
"Until Sunday's announcement, it wasn't clear to outsiders that the book was a sure thing. Because what Jobs gives, he can also take away."

He recalls a book written by the then journalist - and now successful venture capitalist Michael Moritz - about the creation of the Macintosh called The Little Kingdom.

"When Moritz reported, in Time's 1983 Machine of the Year cover package, the story of how Jobs' initially refused to acknowledge paternity of his first daughter, Lisa, access was abruptly cut off. Moritz had to finish the book without Apple's cooperation."

It is not the only book to have displeased Apple's chief. iCon: Steve Jobs, The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business, written by Jeffrey Young, promised "insider scoops and no-holds-barred style".

It displeased Mr Jobs so much he had all books pulled from Apple stores.

As with all previous biographers, Mr Isaacson has some great material to work with. From persuading his friend and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to design and sell one of the first successful personal computers to being ousted from his beloved company in a bitter power struggle only to bring it back from the brink of extinction. In his personal life there is the story of his adoption and his conversion to Buddhism.

Mr Jobs has long resisted the approaches of countless authors over the years to tell his story. The question has to be what finally changed his mind? As he endures a third leave of absence from Apple due to health issues in the wake of pancreatic cancer, perhaps he is beginning to fear his own mortality.

There is little doubt that iSteve will make fascinating reading. The fear will be, given Mr Jobs' famed need to control everything down to the last detail, how true a picture we will get of the man who has reversed the fortunes of Apple and turned it into the most valuable technology firm in the world.


  • Comment number 1.

    I think you have hit the nail on the head with the last line of this report. This will not be a true biography of Jobs, but a sanitised version of events that the control freak Jobs want the world to see. All the fanbois will take it as gospel, but those generally interested in tech would be better of finding an unofficial biog, which may give a truer picture.

  • Comment number 2.

    At Joe.
    I'd rather wait to be able to say "This IS a sanitised version etc..." when the book is delivered, not dismiss it out of hand straight off the bat a year before the fact. I find that incredibly puerile.
    What do we know of SJ's mindset on this? Nothing.
    Isaacson seems to be a well respected biographer. I hope he's able to produce a worthy publication. If he's restricted then you can say "I told you so".
    Either way it will interesting to find out.

  • Comment number 3.

    @Paul #2

    Did you actually read the article? Or just skip straight to the comments to see if Steve "what he gives, he can also take away" Jobs needs defending?

  • Comment number 4.

    @Aldy #3
    Yes I did read the whole article. What I'm saying is that it's pretty pointless to say that this book will turn out a certain way a year out from publication.
    I'd say the same about a biography of Gates or Zuckerberg.
    What gets me is people who pitch what they imagine as something they know for certain.
    We have no idea what kind of relationship Isaacson has with Jobs. Yeah, it could be a pile of kak or it could be an extraordinary insight. Just be openminded.

    I'm sure there are other people who have withdrawn their co-operation from biographies. We can all give, we can all take away.

  • Comment number 5.

    In an attempt to neuter the conversation of how sanitised this book might be with Jobs involvement.

    Anyone with an interest in the man would take multiple sources of information in order to get a rounder more accurate picture than just a single book that will always have someone's point of view written into it.


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