Just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about Steve Jobs, a new book is about to set the record straight with some help from Apple.
Becoming Steve Jobs, an unauthorized biography from Fast Company reporters Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, wasn’t given the stamp of approval from Jobs himself, but the book—out on Tuesday—has plenty of support from Apple. CEO Tim Cook, design head Jony Ive, and Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior VP of software and services, have all publicly bashed Walter Isaacson’s official look at Jobs, which was published after his death in 2011. Jobs picked Isaacson to write his biography and didn’t exert any editorial control over the end result, which painted the Apple cofounder in a largely unflattering light.
“I thought the Isaacson book did him a tremendous disservice,” Cook said in a new Becoming Steve Jobs excerpt published in Fast Company. It was just a rehash of a bunch of stuff that had already been written, and focused on small parts of his personality. You get the feeling that [Steve’s] a greedy, selfish egomaniac. 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. Life is too short."
Apple gave Schlender and Tetzeli access to Cook and other executives. In return, the authors let the company read the finished version before publication, though Apple wasn’t allowed to make any changes that weren’t related to factual errors.
Isaacson also had access to Apple executives and to Jobs himself, which Schlender and Tetzeli didn’t have (though Schlender interviewed Jobs many times prior to his death). But it seems like Becoming Steve Jobs is a hit, at least with Apple. Wired's Steven Levy, who also knew Jobs, judges Isaacson's biography less harshly in an opinion piece at Medium, but also says, "Only in Becoming Steve Jobs do I recognize the complexity and warmth that I saw first-hand in Jobs, particularly in the last few years of his life."
“After a long period of reflection following Steve’s death, we felt a sense of responsibility to say more about the Steve we knew,” Apple spokesman Steve Dowling told the New York Times. “We decided to participate in Brent and Rick’s book because of Brent’s long relationship with Steve, which gave him a unique perspective on Steve’s life. The book captures Steve better than anything else we’ve seen, and we are happy we decided to participate.”
Eddy Cue is also a fan of the new book:
Best portrayal is about to be released - Becoming Steve Jobs (book). Well done and first to get it right.— Eddy Cue (@cue) March 16, 2015
We plan to read and review the book to find out if it’s worth reading if you’ve already read Steve Jobs, watched the Ashton Kutcher movie, and seen the new documentary (which Cue did not like). Do you plan to read the new biography? (You can grab a free sample in the iBookstore now.) Is there anything else you’re dying to know about Jobs? Let us know in the comments.