Probably no figure in Silicon Valley history has inspired more curiosity or attained a greater mythical status than Steve Jobs, the icon behind Apple aapl.
For decades, journalists have toiled in vain to offer a peek behind the curtain of the Wizard of Cupertino, Calif.
Not for lack of trying.
Jobs has famously remained tight-lipped and cloistered in secrecy, offering interviews to few reporters. And, on those rare occasions, yielding little or no insights into his personal thoughts. In many ways, he is tech's version of Charles Foster Kane, the mysterious protagonist in Citizen Kane.
There have been book attempts. The best of the lot — Alan Deutschman's The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, snappily written and meticulously researched — got no closer to the inner Steve than anyone else.
Now comes a fresh, noble perspective from Leander Kahney, news editor at Wired.com and a longtime follower of Apple and its mercurial co-founder. Rather than float on the periphery of the Jobs gestalt, he's decided to get inside the man's head. (Jobs did not respond to Kahney's requests for an interview.)
What emerges is Inside Steve's Brain, which offers insightful nuggets on the mind/personality that helped create personal computers and digital music players for the rest of us while moonlighting as a modern-day Walt Disney at Pixar, the groundbreaking animation studio.
Kahney posits that Jobs has molded his conflicting personality traits into a business philosophy that has had as much impact on society as Henry Ford or Walt Disney.
According to Kahney's provocative book, Jobs is an elitist who dismisses most people as "bozos," yet he makes devices so simple anyone can use them. He's an obsessive creature with a volcanic temper, but he forges deep partnerships with creative artists such as Academy Award-winning animator John Lasseter, design whiz Jonathan Ivie and Steve Wozniak. A Buddhist, he produces mass-market goods in Asian factories, and he promotes them with the zeal of P.T. Barnum.
In short, Kahney writes, "Jobs has embraced the personality traits that some consider flaws — narcissism, perfectionism, total faith in his intuition — to lead Apple and Pixar to triumph against steep odds. And in the process, he has become a self-made billionaire."
Ultimately, Jobs' unconventional ways and management practices serve their purpose. Perhaps no other company has been as good at giving customers what they want before they know they want it, Kahney writes.
The fun stuff lies in the details of Apple's idiosyncrasies — from the corporate politics inherent in parking for employees to the protocol for entering conference rooms.
They abound in this book.
Lest anyone underestimate Jobs' micromanaging ways, consider this tidbit: His exacting standards cover such esoteric details as the number of screws on the bottom of a laptop and the curve of a monitor's corners.
Apple is all about messianic zeal, as any of its millions of devotees will attest.
Kahney has produced a rich, essential read for them to get inside Jobs' head and discover what makes Apple insanely great.