Lisa Brennan-Jobs, the firstborn daughter of Steve Jobs, has added her name to the list of people who weren’t fans of Jobs’ hand-picked biographer Walter Isaacson.
Isaacson wrote the mega-selling biography of Jobs published in 2011. However, since then numerous Apple insiders and people who knew Steve have criticized the book. Jobs’ daughter Lisa is the latest of these — saying that she didn’t trust the biographer, although she admits she never read his book.
“I never spoke with Walter, and I never read the book, but I know I came off as cold to my father and not caring whether he felt bad,” Brennan-Jobs said in an interview with the New York Times to discuss her forthcoming memoir Small Fry. “I was devastated by it.”
From the sound of things, Brennan-Jobs began her own book partially as a response to the way she was portrayed in the Isaacson book. “I felt ashamed to be the bad part of a great story,” she said. “And I felt unresolved.”
She didn’t say exactly why she didn’t trust Isaacson, however. For what it’s worth, my own reading of the book never gave me the impression that Lisa was anything other than a strong individual who had forged a relationship with her father, after an incredibly difficult start to life.
Other critics of Isaacson’s biography
As mentioned, Lisa isn’t the only person in the Jobs camp to criticize Isaacson. Jony Ive had previously admitted to not liking the biography very much. While Ive, like Lisa, said he hadn’t finished reading the book, he has apparently read enough to spot inaccuracies. “My regard couldn’t be any lower,” he said in one interview.
Tim Cook didn’t much like it either. In the 2015 book Becoming Steve Jobs, Cook claimed it was, “just a rehash of a bunch of stuff that had already been written, and focused on small parts of his personality. You get the feeling that [Steve’s] a greedy, selfish egomaniac. It didn’t capture the person.”
‘We’re cold people’
But Small Fry, which comes out in early September, is unlikely to be the favorable portrayal of Jobs (or some members of his immediate family) that Apple would like to see circulated, either.
In her New York Times interview, Lisa Brennan-Jobs mentions instances such as Jobs barring Lia from seeing her birth mom for six months so as to “cement her connection” to living with Jobs’ family.
He is described in the article as shifting “from neglectful to controlling.” The article mentions one unflattering anecdote involving Jobs’ wife, Laurene Powell Jobs. During a therapy session with Lisa as a teenager, Lisa apparently said she felt lonely and wanted Jobs to say good night to her in the evening. Powell Jobs’ response? “We’re just cold people.”
Laurene Powell Jobs, her children and Steve Jobs’s sister, Mona Simpson, gave this statement to The Times:
“Lisa is part of our family, so it was with sadness that we read her book, which differs dramatically from our memories of those times. The portrayal of Steve is not the husband and father we knew. Steve loved Lisa, and he regretted that he was not the father he should have been during her early childhood. It was a great comfort to Steve to have Lisa home with all of us during the last days of his life, and we are all grateful for the years we spent together as a family.”