In spite of the waves of economic turmoil unsettling this country and many others, and although the Occupy Wall Street protesters have shone a spotlight on the financial disparities between the rich and everyone else (i.e., 1% vs. 99%), I think most Americans still believe—or at least, still WANT to believe in our national dream: that no matter how you start out, if you work hard enough and get a decent education, you can accomplish amazing things.
That is one reason why I found STEVE JOBS, Walter Isaacson’s biography, so captivating. As a baby, Jobs was adopted by a married couple who didn’t have much money, but they believed in the power of education and did everything they could to encourage his learning and creativity. He was possessed (well, I could stop there, because he was a little strange) with a forceful personality, unflagging energy, and an obsession with design. His vision, relentless negotiation skills, and passion for what he called “the intersection of art and technology” ultimately led to the development of many inventions that we use today. If there were a museum for the American Dream, his life story would definitely appear in Exhibit A.
Isaacson, who has also written about Albert Einstein (another good book, though a bit heavy on the physics for my taste) and Ben Franklin (on my list), is an engaging storyteller, and this book, despite its length (600-plus pages), moves quickly. Jobs was obviously brilliant, but he was also very human, and Isaacson conveys that fact directly but fairly. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a genius, you should check out STEVE JOBS.
Here are two related pieces I also recommend:
The poignant, powerful commencement address he delivered at Stanford: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/10/06/141120359/read-and-watch-steve-jobs-stanford-commencement-address
His sister Mona Simpson’s beautiful, revealing eulogy: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/opinion/mona-simpsons-eulogy-for-steve-jobs.html?pagewanted=all