by Jason Snell
Would Jobs have liked ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’?
Original Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld thinks Steve wouldn’t have liked “Becoming Steve Jobs”, but of course, we’ll never know.
What I found interesting about Hertzfeld’s take on the book is that it reinforces something that I discussed with John Siracusa on Upgrade: This feels very much like a book that has decided on a narrative and is committed to shoehorning historical events into that narrative. It’s a tale of Jobs having a disastrous beginning before finally learning how to become a success during his time away from Apple.
The authors hardly interviewed any Apple employees from the early days, so there’s no new reporting here to justify their negativity; they seem to be trashing Steve’s early career simply to accentuate the contrast with his later one… The agenda flips after Steve returns to Apple a few years later. Now it’s time to obscure problems instead of waxing lyrical about them. The main strategy is to simply ignore unpleasant episodes, or to sweep them into a single chapter near the end, entitled “Blind Spots, Grudges, and Sharp Elbows,” so they don’t have to tarnish the main chronological account.
In my opinion, their central thesis is simplistic and trite.
I’m not sure I buy the book’s thesis either, though I think it’s at least worth considering. And I agree with Hertzfeld that Becoming Steve Jobs is worth reading for the narrator’s personal interactions with Jobs and the tidbits from current and former Apple executives. I also don’t seem to be as high on the Isaacson biography as Hertzfeld is.
I do know this: I think I’ve read enough Steve Jobs biographies for a long time.