iCon: Jeffrey young & William Simon

“An unauthorized and unflinching portrait of the phenomenon behind Apple” says the back cover. Unauthorized, it definitely is, but I am not sure about the unflinching part, because the book does not reveal anything that an Apple enthusiast doesn’t already know.

The book sketches Steve Jobs’ intriguing life. It begins with RSJ’s (RSJ stands for Real Steve Jobs. If you don’t know what I am talking about, visit this site.) birth and sheds light on his childhood, his college days, founding of Apple, and RSJ’s and Apples’growth. It doesn’t show the readers a personal side of RSJ. It only paints RSJ through events that happened in the public. List of events in RSJ arranged in chronological order interspersed with conversations with a few people - that’s what the book is about. The book paints a contradicting picture - it quotes a few people saying working with Steve Jobs was a nightmare, some people say he was a terror, the book also describes Jobs as a charismatic figure, who improvised on all his speeches and held the audience captivated.

A biography need not be just a journal of events in a lifetime. Readers want to know about RSJ from a different perspective, his human side, if I can say that. Boardroom meetings, RSJ’s charismatic talks in MacWorld meetings, his break-up, his addiction with Zen - all this is available elsewhere too. What a biography should give something that is hidden from the public. This book can probably be forgiven because it says it is unauthorized. If not from Steve’s mouth himself, but a different perspective could have been given by including conversations from more people who have worked with Steve.

My expectations from this book was different from what the book actually gave me. I was expecting to know how Jobs managed Apple, his management tactics and his style of working. I was expecting a peephole to Apple’s world through RSJ’s eyes. This is not what I got. In fact, there is hardly any mention of how Jobs built this company and took it to where it is now. This book is like reading lots of Page 3 articles on Steve Jobs. How much of Page 3 can you take in, anyway? This book has nothing that I could take back home. It only leaves me more knowledgeable about Steve Jobs. Were my expectations flawed? May be.

If you want to know Steve Jobs better, pick this up. If you expect to know how Steve Jobs managed Apple, this is not the book for you.