One day I will probably tell my grandchildren about when I was younger and used a first generation iPod. While in college, my friend Chris showed me his recent Christmas gift, a device that could hold thousands of songs that fit in his pocket. I was amazed and, of course, needed my own. I didn’t realize then that my introduction to Apple and iPod was such an important moment in the history of the company and the life of its founder, Steve Jobs.
Karen Blumenthal’s Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different, a 2013 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction finalist, is a comprehensive look at one of the most important technology innovators in the last 40 years. From his birth to an unmarried graduate student, his adoption by Clara and Paul Jobs, his rise in the personal computer industry, setbacks at the company he founded, his rise again to prominence with Pixar and the iPod to his declining health and sudden death, the life of Steve Jobs is full of contradictions and conflicts. Blumenthal balances the myth of Steve Jobs with the reality of the man with a driven and passionate nature that could come across as cold and uncaring. Consulting countless books, articles, interviews, and online videos, Bluementhal tells not only the story of Jobs and Apple, but also of the personal computer revolution that eventually, under Jobs’s vision, included how we consume, music, videos, and books and even how we communicate using devices elegantly and simplistically designed.
Much like Apple’s products, Blumenthal’s book also has unique design elements. Ends of chapters are equipped with informational sidebars that look like a Mac computer’s distinctive window. The end papers are filled with an extensive timeline, bibliography, and source notes along with an extremely helpful glossary of computer jargon like RAM, DRAM, and SCRAM. Throughout the text are black and white photos of Jobs, his family, and some of his most iconic products. Blumenthal frames the narrative around Steve Jobs’s memorable 2005 Stanford University Commencement speech. It provides a clear structure but also ties the book back to the man and his legacy and his final wish for us. Stay hungry. Stay Foolish.
— Amanda Margis, currently reading Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin and listening to Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow
Keep an eye out for our interview with Karen Blumenthal, coming later this month!