Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Books I read in 2011 - Part 3: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I have just finished reading Steve Jobs' biography written by Walter Isaacson. Like I had mentioned to a few of my friends, no biography / autobiography had gotten me this interested since I read Jack Welch's "Straight from the gut" when I was in college.

My one word review of this book: awesome.

Agreed, the author had an interesting subject. An adopted child, a Silicon Valley whiz-kid, an entrepreneur who over the span of two and half decades revolutionized not just the computer industry but also the music, retail and animation industries.

What makes Isaacson's effort spectacular is that after reading the book, you feel you've been witnessing Steve Jobs' life unravel right in front of your eyes. The creation of magical products, the frustration at doing things wrong, the fights and the celebrations... all come alive.

The book does not intend to be a publicity gimmick for the hero who has passed away (it would've been had they stuck to the title 'iSteve: The Book of Jobs') but an honest narration of one of the most amazing CEOs of the modern era. Jobs was no saint and he knew it. He threw tantrums and hurled abuses at people. But all of this stemmed from the fact that he was a perfectionist. The same passion for excellence that led him to sometimes delay product launches also led him one time to take eight weeks to decide which washing machine to buy. There is no doubt about it: the man was a genius. Albeit, slightly flawed, but genius nonetheless.

Another great feature about Isaacson's book is that it is honest. Not only are there conversations with people who revered Jobs' but also from his troubled past. Mona Simpson, his biological sister; Lisa Brennan-Jobs, his illegitimate daughter; Tina Redse, his one-time girlfriend; and of course, Bill Gates, the man who grudgingly accepted that Steve Jobs had a habit of pulling off the impossible.

This book is a great read not only for those who wish to read the biography of one of the best CEOs but also who want to find out more about a fascinating man who had an incredible passion for excellence in business, just as in his personal life.

(image courtesy: Little, Brown book group)

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