Becoming Steve Jobs: The journalist and the genius

Philip Elmer-DeWitt, Fortune, on Brent Schlender's upcoming book Becoming Steve Jobs:

Every new book about Steve Jobs will forever be measured against Walter Isaacson’s biography, which defined, for millions of readers, the man who built (and rebuilt) Apple.

But the people closest to Jobs — the people who knew him best — say Isaacson missed the mark. “I thought the Isaacson book did him a tremendous disservice,” says Tim Cook, speaking out three years later. “It was just a rehash of a bunch of stuff that had already been written, and focused on small parts of his personality.”

Isaacson’s not really to blame. He’s a skilled journalist, and he mastered an enormous amount of material in a very short time. But he didn’t get to spend much quality time with his subject until the last year and a half of Jobs’ life. Besides, he was hired to tell the story of what Steve Jobs did, not who Steve Jobs was.

There are only a handful of journalists who knew Jobs well enough to tell that story. There’s Steve Levy, formerly of Newsweek. There’s John Markoff of the New York Times. And there’s Brent Schlender of the Wall Street and Fortune, who may have known Jobs best of all.

I got a fair amount of push back for the below tweet of mine in 2011. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed reading Walter's book, and I still recommend it to others. And Walter is a good journalist. My point was that he was given a difficult job to pull off ... that Walter isn't to writing what Steve was to entrepreneurialism ... heck, to the world.

With Philip's view, I have an even better understanding of why the book missed the mark for me. I'm looking forward to reading Becoming Steve Jobs.