My book collection started growing again a few weeks ago. Apple Computer pulled all the books by Wiley Publications from Apple Store shelves. They’re the publishers of the popular “Dummies” series.
It doesn’t take a dummy to figure out why Apple and Steve Jobs objected to their latest publication, “iCon: Steve Jobs. The Greatest Second Act In The History of Business” by Jeffrey S. Young.
The Mac maker retaliated and pulled all Wiley’s publications from Apple stores.
Chances are good that the act was an exercise in futility and probably caused sales of the iCon: Steve Jobs book to go up dramatically. Indeed, the publisher immediately printed more books.
I was sufficiently intrigued by the whole scene that I bought the book right away from Amazon. While I was there, I bought Jeffrey S. Young’s earlier work on Steve Jobs, “Steve Jobs: The Journey Is the Reward.”
And Amazon being what it is, I was instantly enticed by Andy Hertzfeld’s, “Revolution In The Valley,” an insider’s look at the making of the Macintosh from someone who was actually there.
Regardless, it doesn’t take but a couple of chapters of “iCon: Steve Jobs. The Greatest Second Act In The History of Business” to see why Apple and Steve had a hissy fit or two and pulled the rest of Wiley’s books from the shelves.
Frankly, it’s doubtful that Apple would have carried the book anyway. It’s not about computers, or Macs, or applications, or training. It’s about Steve Jobs.
I can see why Steve was apparently pissed enough to retaliate.
First, the author, Jeffrey Young, wrote about Steve back in the late 1980s. Reviews of the book indicate that it’s not flattering of Steve or his tenure at Apple. I have the book (thanks to Amazon’s “related searches”) but haven’t read it yet.
Young’s latest book, iCon: Steve Jobs, appears to present Steve as a human being; fraught with all the imperfections we have, create, succumb to, and get amplified by being in the spotlight for 30 years.
It’s not a flattering book, though it attempts to show that Jobs has overcome many obstacles to reach success. Again and again. Young also shows that Jobs’ main obstacle in life is probably himself.
The first few chapters cover the early business life of Jobs and Wozniak and the beginnings of Apple Computer.
If you stopped reading after Chapter 3 you’d think that Jobs was just another business con man (hence the title “iCon” is probably a poor choice of wording).
Mac users know there’s more to the Mac than just being “a computer.” Likewise, there’s more to Steve Jobs than just being an a_s_s_h_o_l_e.
The end of Part One of “iCon” shows Steve’s reluctance and yet willingness to change. Early on we’re treated to his harsh, dark side and inability to own up to fathering a daughter.
Later, we see Steve actually show he cares about people. Much later on.
Young’s book treats Jobs as if he’s a flawed rock star, or a darling politician with a past. Steve is both.
While he’s a gifted leader, an astute businessman, and an articulate spokesman for his own vision, he’s also shown as crafty, cunning, contemptuous, condescending, nearly criminal, and oddly carnivorous (despite years as a vegan; Steve has chewed through more than a few human beings).
“Ah, the Pirates of Silicon Valley. Hardware design gets “acquired.” Software design gets ripped off. Writing about the Valley itself gets lifted.”Part Two of “iCon” rolls through the NeXT years and the early years of Pixar under Steve’s control.
Control is a word often used in Young’s book and aptly describes Jobs’ most notable modus operandi.
Surprisingly, there’s not much detail about Steve’s successful coup and return to head Apple in mid 1997. There are the obligatory references to battles with Michael Eizner, head of Disney; references here and there to Bill Gates’ continued success.
More than anything, Young’s book is a look at Steve Jobs, the man. Yes, there’s the mercurial personality. The rages. The language. The intensity. The sometimes harsh treatment of both competitors and fellow workers.
Still, Young’s portrayal of Steve Jobs, founder and once king of Apple Computer, appears much like a book about the “real” Elvis Presley. It examines, accuses, and attempts to wash clean the image of Apple’s larger-than-life leader.
If you’re at all interested in all things Apple, it’s a must read book.
Interestingly, so is another book by Alan Deutschman, “The Second Coming of Steve Jobs.” That one’s on order from, guess who, our friends at Amazon.
In the interim, Deutschman writes a review of Jeffrey Young’s “iCon: Steve Jobs” book. Deutschman’s take? “Hey, this is a lot like my book!”
Ah, the Pirates of Silicon Valley. Hardware design gets “acquired.” Software design gets ripped off. Writing about the Valley itself gets lifted.
Click Here for Alan Deutschman’s review in the San Francisco Chronicle.