Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal
|Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal|
|Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam|
|Summary: A fascinating biography of a fascinating man that is wonderfully crafted and superb to read. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 310||Date: February 2012|
Framed by Jobs' iconic speech at a Stanford College graduation ceremony, and the three stories he told the students, about connecting the dots, love and loss, and mortality, this biography gives a succinct and balanced account of Jobs' life, his successes and his failures, his passions and his ideals, and his infamously polarized personality. The author actively annotates the backstory of Jobs with references from this speech, as well as future events, carefully chosen statistics, and Jobs' own reminiscence, giving a rich context to his story. Jobs' achievements are incredible and they're not simply down to his genius, but his attitudes towards life and his incredible charisma.
What makes Steve Jobs' story so compelling could be attributed to a lot of things. He was at the forefront of the personal computer revolution, and it is fascinating to discover the evolution of the personal computer to the magnificent beast that it is today. Macsbooks, iPods, iPhones, iPads; they've all become indispensable in modern society, and the story behind them is similarly intriguing. Apple Inc. is easily the largest technology company in the world, and a dominant player in the personal computer, music and mobile technology industries, but it has had its ups and downs with turbulent patches in the late 80s and 90s, which were only overcome through the company's ability to reinvent itself.
But even if you don't give a toss about computers or Apple, you would still want to read this book because of Steve Jobs. At times he appears to be superhuman, effortlessly charismatic, and able to produce masterstrokes of genius at will. He created Apple Computers from scratch, and spearheaded the first viable personal computer. Despite being devastatingly fired from Apple, he bulldozed forward, founding another computer company, NeXT, as well as funding the pioneering computer animation company Pixar, only to later return to a flailing Apple and give it its spark back. At the same time Steve Jobs simply wasn't a nice guy to work with. He was rude, stubborn and ruthless. He would rarely accept that he was wrong, and he made mistakes that he regretted to his deathbed. The book uses this side of Jobs to humanise him, and this is what makes his story so engaging and easy to get absorbed into. I found his attitude towards life fascinating. He never let what others thought of him faze him, and was a fastidious perfectionist, determined to change the world. His greatest belief, and most resonant piece of advice to the students at the graduation, was to 'live each day as if it was your last', a maxim that I find incredibly inspiring.
Perhaps the biggest complement I could give to the author is that there wasn't a single point of the biography, which I thought seemed unnecessary or uninteresting. The book is streamlined and sharply written coming in at a mere 300 pages. It's written in such a way that younger readers new to Jobs will be able to approach it, but at the same time it provides more than enough depth and detail to interest older readers who have grown up knowing Jobs. Before his death, I simply knew Steve Jobs as a name, the man behind Apple. But having read the book, I feel like I've followed Jobs my whole life and knew him intimately. Blumenthal's writing flows effortlessly and the pace of the biography is very comfortable, always throwing new things at you, but at the same time allowing time for reflection.
It doesn't hurt that the book is put together very stylishly either, with illustrations integrated seamlessly, and mini articles framed in mac-style windows at the end of each chapter.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If you've been inspired by Jobs to make a difference, perhaps you might want to read How to be a Social Entrepreneur: Make Money and Change the World by Robert Ashton. Teenage readers might enjoy iBoy by Kevin Brooks which explores the implications of its protagonist gaining superhuman powers upon getting an iPhone embedded in his brain. It's a superb novel, and explores the potentials, albeit in a science fiction context, opened by the technology age pioneered by Steve Jobs.
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