Steve Jobs: So Great With Tech, So Awful With People

Biography zeroes in on contradiction
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2011 12:09 PM CDT
Copies of the biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs are displayed in a bookstore in Hong Kong.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – One thing the new Steve Jobs biography has done has tempered the saint-like portrait of him that emerged in the days after his death. Maureen Dowd in the New York Times and Farhad Manjoo in Slate focus on this part of Jobs' personality, the one through which he could be a cruel jerk to subordinates, friends, lovers, and family. "Certainly, Jobs created what Shakespeare called 'the brightest heaven of invention,'" writes Dowd. "But his life sounded like the darkest hell of volatility."

In fact, the biography has so many examples—he could be especially cold to the women in his life, including his daughters—"that even longtime Jobs admirers (a group in which I count myself) will struggle to like the guy in this book," writes Manjoo. Which leads to his biggest criticism: The book doesn't explain this great contradiction of Jobs' life—terrific with products, lousy with people—but merely supplies details about it. "How he changed, why, what he learned, and how he was able to pull off the greatest corporate miracle the world has ever seen remains a mystery," writes Manjoo. "And, sadly, it may remain one forever."

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