Jobs was abandoned by his birth parents, which one of his ex-wives said left him "full of broken glass." He was neglectful of his own children and could be bizarrely cruel to his wives and girlfriends. His temper was infamous.
Certainly, Jobs created what Shakespeare called “the brightest heaven of invention.” But his life sounded like the darkest hell of volatility.
An Apple C.E.O. who jousted with Jobs wondered if he had a mild bipolarity. “Sometimes he would be ecstatic, at other times he was depressed,” Isaacson writes. There were Rasputin-like seductions followed by raging tirades. Everyone was either a hero or bozo.
As Jobs’s famous ad campaign for Apple said, “Here’s to the crazy ones. ... They push the human race forward.”
The monstre sacré fancied himself an “enlightened being,” but he was capable of frightening coldness, even with his oldest collaborators and family. Yet he often sobbed uncontrollably.
Isaacson told me that Jobs yearned to be a saint; but one of the colleagues he ousted from Apple mordantly noted that the petulant and aesthetic Jobs would have made an excellent King of France.
The lesson, as always, is that geniuses are weird people and generally spring from weird circumstances. Would you want to have any of the latest crop of computer magnates as your friend? Would you want to be any of them? Not I.