Why did the NY Times rent the pedestrian mind of Janet Maslin to review this
biography of the most important American inventor and innovator since Thomas Edison?
The review is workable, but mediocre, like Maslin herself. The review fails to express any depth regarding Jobs' sense of abandonment, nor does it find any space to even mention Jobs' biological father
, who was himself an interesting guy who deserved better than Jobs treated him. Also, the review's drive-by about the irony of a high tech gee-whiz guy who scorned for too long the medical treatment versions of his products in favor of Luddite home remedies is inexcusable. And where is the discussion of the disconnect between the well paid executives and designers at Apple and Jobs' and Apple's refusal to build the innovative products in our nation, as opposed to China?
For those who may think I am too harsh with regard to Maslin, consider how she misses the fundamental point that Jobs is the modern equivalent to Thomas Edison or Henry Ford. Instead, Maslin lamely compares Jobs to Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein. And why? Because Walter Issacson, the author of the Jobs bio, wrote biographies of Franklin and Einstein. It's not like she really thought that up herself. The changes to American culture, and the immediate and direct effects on America's economy, which have resulted from Jobs' products, are barely understood by her. Maslin is the type of insular fiction book chatter who never reads anything like the works of Daniel Bell or Michael Harrington.
For those who may not know, Maslin began as a rock reviewer at the Times in the early 1970s, where she became infamous among progressive rock fans for her trashing of "A Passion Play"
by Jethro Tull, where she completely misread the lyrics to the album as evidence that Tull band leader Ian Anderson was a Jesus freak--when in fact he was a heretic questioning religious dogma, not merely the deep hypocrisies that are often tied up within organized religion. And of course, her cramped English major mind failed to recognize, let alone discuss the innovative music and musicianship on that album.
In the 1980s, she was promoted to the NY Times Book Review section where she continues to haunt its corridors. In thirty years, I have yet to read any review of hers that went beyond the banality of an NPR segment on cooking pasta. She can't hold a candle to Martha Nussbaum or Barbara Ehrenreich, or the LA Times Susan Salter Reynolds
, for example. And yet, the Times tasked the biography of the most important American Baby Boomer to Maslin. Yuk.
Oh well. Let's wait for the NY Review of Books' take on the Jobs biography, though I'll already have gotten half way through the book by the time it appears...
ADDENDUM: 10/26/11: Here
is a review from Slate that is far better than Maslin's review.