There is a case to be made that Apple is doomed without Steve Jobs. Kane just fails to make it. Worse, she doesn't even try.
I was tempted to make that my entire review. But it would be a disservice to anyone considering buying Yukari Iwatani Kane's new book, Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs. You might find some of the anecdotes about Steve Jobs and Apple collected between the book's covers interesting but this is not the type of work anyone should reward with money.
I feel terrible writing that. I hold Kane and her years of work on the Apple beat for the Wall Street Journal in the absolute highest of regard. When I heard she was leaving to work on a book about Apple and Steve Jobs I was thrilled. Given Kane's sources and her chops, I anticipated something great. And that's what makes Haunted Empire so tragic. It's not even good. It's not even mediocre. It's a waste of Kane's time and talent.
To be clear, my opinion is both objective and subjective. I freely admit I dislike some works that are genius and absolutely love some that are trashy as hell. That isn't the case here. This isn't a great book I simply didn't like. This is a bad book.
I was sent an advanced review copy a week ago and it was arduous to get through it. I don't have anything against the premise, gloomy as it may be. No one can deny how important Steve Jobs was to Apple and the hole his death left in the company and everyone who worked with him. There's certainly a case to be made that Apple post-Steve Jobs is no longer the company that shook the world with Mac and iPod + iTunes and iPhone. There is a case to be made that Apple is doomed. Kane just fails to make it. Worse, she doesn't even try.
Instead Haunted Empire meanders and jumps about, not even bothering to set up straw apples before knocking them down. I would call it a hit piece if it weren't so poorly organized. How it made it through the editing process and into publication is difficult to understand. How Kane could be happy having her name on the cover even more so.
I dislike writing these kinds of reviews. I'd much rather spend my time and your attention on great products that make all of our lives better. But Apple and Steve Jobs are lightning rods and Haunted Empire will no doubt get far, far more exposure than the work itself deserves on its own merit. So, caveat emptor. Caveat very, very emptor.
I can't recommend Haunted Empire. Not for any reason. Not to anyone. I can only recommend you skip it.
Lest anyone think I'm being unfair, here are a few more reviews of Haunted Empire to compare and contrast with: