Portrait of a sceptic not averse to brutal battle

A NEW biography portrays Steve Jobs as a sceptic all his life - giving up religion because he was troubled by starving children (though he did take up Zen Buddhism later), calling executives who took over Apple ''corrupt'' and delaying cancer surgery in favour of cleansings and herbal medicine.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, to be published in Australia on Tuesday, also says Jobs came up with the company's name while he was on a diet of fruits and vegetables, and as a teenager perfected staring at people without blinking.

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The book delves into Jobs's decision to delay surgery for nine months after learning in October 2003 that he had a neuroendocrine tumour - a relatively rare type of pancreatic cancer that normally grows more slowly and is therefore more treatable. Instead, he tried a vegan diet, acupuncture, herbal remedies and other treatments he found online, and even consulted a psychic.

He also was influenced by a doctor who ran a clinic that recommended juice fasts, bowel cleansings and other unproven approaches, the book says, before finally having surgery in July 2004. Isaacson, quoting Jobs, writes in the book: '' 'I really didn't want them to open up my body, so I tried to see if a few other things would work', he told me years later with a hint of regret.''

Jobs died on October 5, aged 56, after a battle with cancer.

The book also provides insight into the unravelling of Jobs's relationship with Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and an Apple board member from 2006 to 2009. Schmidt had quit Apple's board as Google and Apple went head to head over their smartphones, Apple with its iPhone and Google with its Android software.


Isaacson wrote that Jobs was livid in January 2010 when HTC introduced an Android phone that boasted many of the popular features of the iPhone. Apple sued, and Jobs told Isaacson in an expletive-laced rant that Google's actions amounted to ''grand theft''.

''I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong,'' Jobs said.

''I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. ''I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this.''

Jobs used an expletive to describe Android and Google Docs, Google's internet-based word processing program. In a subsequent meeting with Schmidt at a Palo Alto, California, cafe, Jobs told Schmidt that he wasn't interested in settling the lawsuit, the book says. ''I don't want your money. If you offer me $5 billion, I won't want it. I've got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that's all I want.''

The meeting, Isaacson wrote, resolved nothing.

The book's design is evocative of the Apple aesthetic, with its black and grey type and black and white cover photo.

Jobs resigned as Apple's CEO on August 24, six weeks before he died.