A reframing of the biographical narrative of the late Apple visionary, from the perspectives of business journalists Schlender and Tetzeli and the associates of Jobs’ they interviewed.
Written by two colleagues, one of whom had been close to Jobs as both a subject and friend for a quarter-century, this biography is intended to serve as a corrective to what they see as an overly simplified stereotype, one that they consider perpetuated by Jobs’ anointed official biographer, Walter Isaacson: that “Steve was a genius with a flair for design” but “a pompous jerk who disregarded everyone in his pursuit of perfection.” The “I” in the narrative reflects the long relationship Schlender had with Jobs, one through which “none of this gibed with my experience of Steve, who always seemed more complex, more human, more sentimental, and even more intelligent than the man I read about elsewhere.” Too much of the legend, they write, focuses on the early years and rise of Apple, which fired the man who had founded it because of clashes of vision (and his difficulty with people), and then on his triumphant return to lead Apple to even greater glories with the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and other paradigm-shifting innovations. What’s missing, write the authors, is the transformation in the middle, the “wilderness years,” when Jobs learned so much from what went wrong between him and Apple. Schlender and Tetzeli draw from many Apple colleagues, present and past, who say they wouldn’t have continued to work with a guy who was as big a jerk as Jobs was often portrayed. Yet even this biography depicts a man who could be insensitive, disloyal, and delusional, and the authors’ business perspective goes lighter on the personal and family details that might have humanized their subject more, while reinforcing the perspective that Jobs could have blinders on when it came to work.
Less truly revelatory and more just a difference in tone and spirit than previous accounts.