But the enemies-reconciled scenario didn't work out. Gates later told Isaacson that Apple's' "end-to-end" designs, meshing hardware and software, may not "win many rounds in the future" without Jobs' leadership. Jobs told Isaacson that Microsoft's philosophy of creating software for use with many companies' hardware led to "crappy products."
"As he got more ill," Isaacson says, "he got more emotional. I found myself emotionally compelled by him. It was more complicated than just liking him."
Isaacson says he believed it when Jobs told him "he wasn't going to die; he was going to beat the cancer." Jobs could be that mesmerizing.
Near the end, "It became very draining; I no longer felt like a journalist keeping his distance but like someone who was intimately involved with a guy who might be dying."
Jobs was so persuasive that "to the very end, I kept thinking he's going to beat it." Isaacson braced for the day when Jobs "would read the book — and berate me."
Isaacson wanted to close "Steve Jobs" with a bold stroke — "Something both symbolic and real."
"In a normal biography, you want the biographer to have the last word," he said. "But the last four or five pages of this book are just Steve talking. This extraordinary person gave me an enormous number of interviews. My ego is not big enough to think what I would have said at that point was more interesting than getting Steve's story out."
And he does. The book brings you so close to Jobs, you know he means it when he says, in this climactic "Legacy" section, "That's what I've always tried to do — keep moving. Otherwise, as Dylan says, if you're not busy being born, you're busy dying."
If you go
Walter Isaacson will speak at the ninth annual CityLit Festival in the Wheeler Auditorium of the Central Enoch Pratt Free Library, 400 Cathedral St., at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 14. Baltimore Sun technology reporter Gus Sentementes will introduce Isaacson. Free. For a full schedule, go to citylitproject.org.