Apple Praises More Positive New Jobs Biography; Free Excerpt in iBooks Store

A new biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs will go on sale Tuesday, March 24, and those who were closest to him are saying it's a much more accurate and nuanced picture of the man than the official biography by Walter Isaacson. 

Titled Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader, the book is coauthored by Brent Schlender, a journalist who knew Jobs over a 25-year period and who had interviewed him a number of times. More than the Isaacson biography, this one reportedly presents a fuller picture and shows how Jobs matured over the years. By the time he returned to Apple in 1997 he was a warmer, more sympathetic person. He could still be a jerk at times, but was also known for being warm and compassionate. And while still very opinionated, he was more open to changing his views, such as when he decided to go ahead with an App Store for the iPhone after first insisting the platform be kept closed to developers.

An article in the New York Times quotes those who knew Jobs well saying that the Isaacson book missed the mark and that this one is more accurate. Apple CEO Tim Cook is quoted in the new book as saying the Isaacson book did a "tremendous disservice" to Jobs. “It didn’t capture the person. The person I read about there is somebody I would never have wanted to work with over all this time.” Legendary Apple designer Jony Ive also felt Isaacson's book was lacking. And Apple exec Eddie Cue said that the new biography is the "first to get it right."

According to the NYT, Becoming Steve Jobs portrays Jobs as "a caring mentor, as well as a delegator and skillful manager who brought the best out of his team." It also has a number of revelations. At one point Tim Cook offered Jobs, who was suffering from liver cancer, a part of his own liver for a liver transplant when he found out they both had the same blood type. But Jobs immediately nixed the idea.

Another revelation is that when Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he met with Jony Ive with the intention of firing him. Ive had been hired during the period after Jobs had been forced out by the Apple board of directors. Apple was struggling to survive, and Jobs hadn't been impressed with their product designs. He was intending to continue to use the designer that had been with him at Next, the company he founded while away from Apple. But the meeting went well. Jobs liked Ive right away and felt that Apple had been wasting his talent. Of course, Ive is now credited with being a key to Apple's extraordinary success.

Not only are Apple executives publicly endorsing the new book, four top execs were interviewed for the book itself, something that they didn't do for the Isaacson bio.

Fast Company has posted an excerpt from the new book, and you can also download a free sample from the iBooks Store.

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Author Details

Jim Karpen's picture

Author Details

Jim Karpen

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.