Steve Jobs book generating massive buzz for author Walter Isaacson

Studio 360

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It’s been just a week since the biography of Steve Jobs, but Walter Isaacson, is atop the best seller charts.

It’s an interesting look behind the life of the man responsible for the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad and the motion picture studio Pixar.

But it was a book that got off to a rough start. Isaacson said Jobs approached him in 2004 to write a biography, but he demurred, until later.

“I said we’d do it in a couple of decades, when he finally retired,” Isaacson said.

And that was before the breakout hits that have put an Apple product in so many American homes: iPod, iPhone, iPad.

What Isaacson didn’t know then was that Jobs had just been diagnosed with cancer — the cancer that would ultimately claim his life earlier this fall. Eventually, the two did agree to collaborate.

“By 2009, when we started talking seriously again, he’s done the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, totally transforming three more industries,” Isaacson said. This guy stands right at the connection of creativity and technology and he’s fighting cancer…Of course I wanted to do it.”

So they got to work. Immediately, it became clear that Jobs could be, well, a jerk. But he could also be incredibly emotional. And he was always loyal, as were the people who worked for him.

“If you’re brutally honest, you’re going to get A players,” Isaacson said Jobs said. “He told me ‘People who wear velvet gloves don’t make a dent in the universe. And that’s not who I am.’ “

Isaacson said Jobs had this real emotional connection with artists — and not just the folks who designed the products, but also those who directed the ads and wrote the copy for them. While he demanded a lot from them, he could be moved to tears by a job well done.

That passion for artists carried over to the past year, when Jobs found himself dealing with medical devices. According to Isaacson, Jobs had been working for the past year on redesigning medical devices to be better for the users — the sick.


PRI’s Peabody Award-winning “Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen” from WNYC is public radio’s smart and surprising guide to what’s happening in pop culture and the arts. Each week, Kurt Andersen introduces you to the people who are creating and shaping our culture. Life is busy — so let “Studio 360” steer you to the must-see movie this weekend, the next book for your nightstand, or the song that will change your life.

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