What teen is going to sit down and read a 656-page biography??
Well, I have to tell you, Steve Jobs is one of the most-requested nonfiction books in my library this year. Just yesterday, walking down the hall, a teacher asked if the library owned it. Sitting at my desk about half an hour later, a senior stopped by to ask if we had it. We do, we do! But it’s checked out to a science teacher, who has come by twice in the last week to tell me how much she’s enjoying it. A 9th grader read it over the holiday vacation. Just what is it about this man?
Obviously, there are hundreds of articles and reviews and interviews available concerning this book. After all, it was the #1 best-selling book of 2011 on Amazon.com. But the fact I found most interesting is that its author considers it only a first draft. Isaacson is considering an expanded version.
Adult/High School–Isaacson exhaustively details the life of one of the most iconic figures of our times. He conducted 40 interviews with Jobs himself as well as numerous interviews with Jobs’s business associates and friends. We hear loud and clear that Jobs sought to define Apple as “the company that thrives best at the intersection of artistry and technology.” The history of Silicon Valley and the technology industry is so intertwined with his life that they are almost one and the same. Isaacson does not spare readers the details of how difficult Jobs could be in dealing with friends and associates, but his ability to see beyond the cutting edge, coupled with his legendary “reality distortion field,” has produced some of the most innovative products of our times. Young adults of today, who have grown up immersed in technology, will gain an understanding of the arguments for and against open vs. closed systems and how they affect business decisions and outcomes. They will also be able to see the impact of quality design. Although longer than most biographies recommended to teens, this title is destined to be a classic. The dense details can be distracting at times, but readers who are particularly interested in technology will be hooked in the first chapter. Those who would like more information on the history of Silicon Valley may want to read John Markoff’s What the Dormouse Said (Viking, 2005).–Vicki Emery, Lake Braddock Secondary School, Fairfax County, VA