(Credit: Walter Isaacson and Simon and Schuster)

Many of us would consider Steve Jobs to be an innovative genius — I mean, only a genius can build  a company like Apple and bring it to glory twice, right?

However, reading Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs made me question that assessment. Yes, Steve Jobs understood technology, and yes, he was smart. A genius? No. I don’t think so.

The thing I believe that enabled him to have so many successes was his serious god complex. He thought he was special. He thought that what he did was awesome and what everyone who opposed him did was crap. He saw in absolutes. Either it was amazing, or it was just so bad he didn’t even what to look at it. He was so certain that what he was doing was right and his charisma was such that he sucked talented people into his certainty. That’s why his products were so great. His team was amazing and followed what Jobs wanted down to the line, because he knew what he wanted. His vision was pure.

Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography was what helped me come to this conclusion. Based on countless interviews with the man himself, as well as with colleagues and friends, it is a no holds barred account of the man’s life, from his childhood to his death bed.

The first section of the book would be terribly hard for any Apple fanboi to read, because it really paints Jobs as such a horrid and manipulative person that you feel like looking away from the book in distaste. Fad diets, a belief that being a vegan negated the requirement for showers, extreme selfishness and an abusive treatment of people around him were just some of the things that made Jobs into a person that I would have had nothing to do with if I’d met him. Reading about his various idiosyncrasies, I’m certain he would have been diagnosed with at least one mental condition.

Yet, Jobs is fostered and helped along by another character in the book — the innovative industry that formed around San Francisco.  People were willing to give him a chance,  and if they weren’t, he just kept chipping away at them until they did. There was just so much excitement and raw energy in that era at that time that Jobs was able to mold into something great. I would question whether if Jobs had grown up in another place, we would have Apple at all.

Later in the book I began to be less harsh on Jobs. Although he never changes into a person that I would have wanted to meet or have been inclined to like, I do respect him for what he achieved. The wonder of what he created and how he shaped the technology industry began to dawn as I ploughed my way towards the end of the book. Instead of never wanting to buy another Apple product again, I began to see why so many people have bought Apple products and wonder if I should, in fact, buy an iPad.

It’s a fascinating read, not only as a character study, but also as a history of the technology industry as the personal PC became the norm, then was joined by the iPod, the smartphone and tablet.

I give this book a 4.5/5.

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