Burn Rate

The man who won Steve Jobs' trust

April 10, 2011: 8:48 PM ET

Who is Walter Isaacson, and why did Jobs choose him to tell the story of his life?

Isaacson at the iPad unveiling. Photo: Michael Copeland

[NOTE: Simon & Schuster announced Sunday that the first authorized biography of Steve Jobs -- iSteve: The Book of Jobs by Walter Isaacson [Since renamed Steve Jobs] -- will be published in early 2012. A version of this article was posted in February 2010 before the S&S publicity machine was ready to kick into gear.]

Apple's January 2010 iPad event was packed cheek to jowl with the famous and well-connected, from John Doerr to Al Gore. But I was still surprised see my old Time magazine editor in the middle of the action. What in the world was Walter Isaacson doing at an Apple (AAPL) event in San Francisco?

The answer came two and a half weeks later in the New York Times, which reported that Steve Jobs -- having fought off a long list of would-be biographers over the years -- had chosen Isaacson to write, with Jobs' help, the story of his life.

The news came as no surprise to anyone who has worked with Isaacson. If there is one thread that runs through his long career in journalism and public service, it's his talent for spotting the most influential people in any room and finding a way to get close to them.

Born into a middle-class New Orleans family in 1952, Isaacson seemed to live a charmed life.


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