Many people go through life wanting to write a book. Many people go through life wanting to run their own company. Conversely, very few people want to be in charge of someone else’s company, and even fewer people want to write books about other people. Walter Isaacson has done the latter — a lot.
Walter Isaacson is a writer most famously known for his Steve Jobs biography. He has also less famously wrote a biography on Benjamin Franklin, Henry Kissinger, and has an upcoming book on Leonardo Da Vinci.
That’s right. Their life, is his life.
Isaacson takes the details of a person’s accomplishments, something you thought you only needed a Wikipedia page for, and blends those details into a story that you can’t stop reading.
But what many people don’t know know is that not only does Walter Isaacson exist as a person, he has also worked as a managing editor at Time Magazine, he has served as CEO of CNN, and is going to work as a history professor at Tulane University.
He may in fact be the most selfless person in history. Who writes books about other people and also works to teach other people — seriously? I understand there are nuns who take “vows of poverty” and spend their lives helping the poor. I also understand that there are historical figures such as Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who have brought justice to the masses. But how many people actually spend their time writing a book to tell you about those successful heroes? Nobody.
Walter Isaacson writes the kind of books that you see on the store shelf, nod at, and say, “Hmm. That guy must’ve been interesting.” before you decide to continue walking and move on with your life. To have the dedication to write these tomes about people he never met is truly awe-inspiring.
There is only one problem: who will write the biography on Walter Isaacson?
A man so selfless deserves credit. But no one knows who he is. And as writer and book marketer, Ryan Holiday, said, “Very few people are looking for biographies of people they’ve never heard of.”
Another problem with writing a biography is that the achievement of writing the book is dwarfed by the accomplishments of the person you are writing about. People commented on Steve Jobs when the book became a bestseller. No one said a word about Walter.
Plus, Walter’s too busy telling you about the lives of other people to let you in on his own. And, if we, as a society, decide to write the biography of Walter Isaacson, what are we going to write about? Will it just be page after page of: “Walter sat at his desk and wrote.”
So, in a poetic way, we have learned one thing: the greatest get forgotten. Now, this post may seem meaningless. But I hope it serves a spark to inspire someone out there to start the biography of the nearly-guaranteed-to-be-forgotten, Walter Isaacson. Take this blog post as a plea for help. I started this journey by introducing you to Walter Isaacson. I need you to finish this journey by telling the world.