Ironically, I happened to order myself a copy ‘iCon’ prior to one month of his demise. Secondly, ‘Steve Jobs’ (A biography with the same name) was a fateful or eventful release which revolved around his death. And ‘The Steve Jobs Way’ was a complimentary copy obtained just for the sake of quick read apart from other fragmented pieces that I collected over the time.
Initially, I conceived this article as a condolence post but dropped it just because I believe that a legend shall live forever and if someone returns to this post after years, they should still find it useful or relevant. My second idea was to put up a book review over ‘Steve Jobs (Biography)‘, but then the whole internet community witnessed an avalanche of reviews and blurbs of the same and mine might have been yet-another-redundant-review. Hence, I considered it worthwhile to review all three in a single post or make it round-up of his popular biographies.
So, iRead !!!
Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson
Originally titled iSteve: The Book of Jobs, it was later simplified sticking to Steve’s own philosophy – ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’. The book virtually went to be a bestseller even before its official release. And its release was tantamount to the launch of any new Apple product itself which becomes a rage among Apple fanboys. And it is a unanimous fact that the coincided death of Steve Jobs fired up the sales too. But mind you, the book not only stands up to sympathetic sales but also keeps the reader engrossed till the end with its quality work.
Since I’ve an impatient habit to start reading from the random pages with books like this where chronology of events matters the least (I read this book with two bookmarks !). I thus began with chapter 26th which was all about Design Principles where Steve’s obsession and preference for product aesthetics were revealed. Being myself a designer, I very much appreciated that chapter where Jonathan Ive (man behind those drop dead gorgeous Apple products) gets vocal about Steve’s exemplary sense of designs and the bond they shared. After finishing that part, I was convinced that the rest of my journey through this 42 Chapter bulky book is going to be both interesting and intriguing. As every other biography, this book too begins with his childhood and parenting. Then comes the chapter where Steve meets Steve and a saga of innovation begins.
Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?
~ Steve Jobs to PepsiCo executive John Scully while pursuading him to join Apple
The book also recounts Steve’s encounter and association with Bill Gates and other personalities like John Scully separately. Author Walter Issacson, with his authoritative treatment traces everything from Jobs’ Indian Odyssey to personal life, a mongering guy to most successful CEO, Atari to Apple, Termination to Restoration in his own company, ventures from NeXT to Pixar, Apple to Mac to iPad and every other aspects of his life – both known and unknown. The books also pulls up a 23 page photograph section from Diana Walker’s portfolio, though I wish they were in color. A very simple and lucid write-up with all the essential insights makes it a worthy official biography – must read for iGuys !
iCon : The Greatest Second Act In the History of Business by Jeffrey S. Young & William L. Simon
I rarely judge the book by its title, but I couldn’t resist myself getting intrigued of the same. iCon cleverly manages to say everything on the coverpage itself. The name has twin meaning engraved here – prima facie it seems to be prefixed with small ‘i’ as in every Apple product giving it a catchy spelling for the word Icon in positive aspect. But a smart observation would also mean I-(am a)-Con which openly criticizes Steve Jobs’ ability to manipulate the things in his own favor.
We have found that when technology is strong, it inspires the artists. And when the artists are strong, they challenge the technology.
~ Ed Catmull on Art & Computers
The book also puts in the unbiased view regarding Steve as a person who despite of success-failure-success regime continues to strive against the odds. iCon, though seems to be written with critiques’ pen which also highlights his egotistical, selfish & manipulative behavior. It talks about Jobs exile and meteoric rise of an empire outside Apple. The book consists of 13 chapter which summarizes major events in his life especially after being outcast from Apple. Though it doesn’t dig deep into everything, but comes to be a worthy reading which looks at Steve from different perspective. I further appreciate authors for their straightforward narration of tidal career of Steve Jobs.
Now the spoiler – the book has also been criticized by Alan Deutschman, the author of The Second Coming of Steve Jobs claiming plagiarism. And being an unauthorized biography, Steve himself showed no mercy while banning the book to hit the shelves of Apple Retail Stores (including all other titles from John Wiley & Sons).
The Steve Jobs Way : iLeadership For A New Generation by Jay Elliot & William L. Simon
Not exactly a biography, this particular book encompasses the series of events and deeds, which made Steve Jobs The Steve Jobs. Jay Elliot, one of the closest associate with him, recounts the acumen and charisma of Steve which catapulted him to the monumental success. Contrary to the above title iCon, this one glorifies Steve Jobs as a corporate genius with all those anecdotal entries and examples – be it handling bonus cheques in person or etching engineers’ signature inside cabinet for radical appreciation and acknowledgement.
You have to trust over something – Your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
~ Steve Jobs, Commencement Speech (Stanford University, 2009)
The book also falls under inspirational category where the readers are tried to get enlightened by emulating or following with the mentioned qualities, persona and incidents. The Steve Jobs Way primarily consists of 5 chapters namely Product Czar, Talent Rules, Team Sports, Becoming Cool – A Different View of Selling & On Becoming Stevian where the author traces the lifelong journey with and without Apple to spun a motivational content. To sum it up, this can be treated as a ‘quick read’ material where user don’t want to dig in that deep, still, want to have all the insights for what it takes to become a Steve Jobs – the iLeader.
Conclusively, if Steve Jobs is a must have biography, then iCon is for the one who want to see him with the different perspective with The Steve Jobs Way being a complimentary title for all.
Others Worthy Reads
Above are the titles which I already possess & went through them and finally produced my opinion. But, there are few more books which may interest Steve fans and admirers. Though the list is almost endless, but I’m sharing only couple of them only which are in my wishlist.