I have read the book and this is my review.
Who was Steve Jobs? What motivated him, how did he see the world, and where did he find the inspiration and motivation that caused him to express himself through the products he put his stamp on? To what extent did this reflect his internal journey?
These are the kind of questions biographies (approved or unapproved) usually attempt to answer, though humans are complex and it is difficult to capture their totality in a few thousand words. That’s because most carry depths you cannot hope to fathom, and have experienced moments of personal growth you cannot imagine. We all grow and change over time.
The task of capturing change over time is easier if you are writing about an emotionally open character, but Steve Jobs, while honest in so many ways, (passionate, intense, committed to his vision), was a man who did not engage in a lifetime of public self-analysis. This means few outside his closest circles had insight into what happened inside Steve Jobs, despite those times the stress he faced hit the public eye.
In this book, the authors have spoken with members of Jobs' inner circle to provide us with a little more insight into the man.
Biography is about placing the actions that characterize a life in context. Biographers should try to explain why events happened and what drove that group of people to be at that place at that time. This is the kind of insight people reading biographies seek.
This is where many other books about or pertaining to Steve Jobs often lose their way. They focus on events, and on other people’s perceptions of events, but fail to define what motivated the protagonists within those events. They lack depth, significance, purpose or meaning. That’s a shame, as it means those books are useless to the troublemakers, rebels, misfits and crazy ones seeking inspiration in order to build tomorrow.
After all, why does it matter when some event occurred? The more interesting insight is in understanding why it happened in the first place. What was the motivation? Who was the man? Why was he there? What drove him? Why? What did he feel? Have I ever felt like that? Where in this person I am reading about can I find lessons to help guide my own existence?
Those are also questions a good biography tackles -- and this is a good biography; you will gain more insight from its attempt.
The challenge for many people is the tendency to see history as linear. It is, but it isn't; we are not fixed points looking out at events, we ourselves also change as time goes by. Your growth may happen in linear time but the impact that growth has on how you live can be a quantum shift. Capturing the impact of such change on Jobs is the point of the book, and it works well.
I can’t say I think Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli has captured every possible nuance of Jobs, because I don’t think it has. What makes me recommend this book is that it has worked hard to break through the stasis of the reality distortion field crafted by those who wish to characterize Steve Jobs as a two-dimensional person.
He was not.
He was an incredibly intelligent, driven, visionary person who drove heart and soul into the life he woke to find himself in. He was in the public eye for almost his entire life, which meant privacy was more important to him than gold. He was a complex character that changed over time. He “became” Steve Jobs. This book attempts to capture a sense of that journey.
‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ is a fascinating, insightful book that does a great job capturing what and who the man inside the public mask actually was. I’m pleased someone got to write it. It needed writing. Previous titles failed. Highly recommended.
‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ is available now. Don’t take my word for its quality -- you can read an extensive excerpt from the book on Apple’s iBookstore. Or even buy it on Amazon here.
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