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There was also, of course, Jobs‘ illness in his later years _ a final bout with adversity. In keeping with his penchant for secrecy, few details were shared. However, his determination to keep working _ even as he appeared increasingly and alarmingly thin _ buoyed many, Galloway says.

“Everyone in America over 30 has had their life touched by illness in some way,” he says. “This humanized him. You just felt for the guy. It was hard not to pull for him.”

After years of opposing attempts by writers to capture his life _ not only declining to cooperate in biographies but actively discouraging them _ Jobs changed his mind in 2011. Simon & Schuster announced in April that Walter Isaacson, who’d written about Ben Franklin and Albert Einstein, would write the book, now simply called “Steve Jobs.” (The early 2012 release date was later moved up to November; On Thursday, it was moved up again to Oct. 24, and advance sales quickly lifted the book to No. 1 on Amazon.com.)

As one small measure of the intense interest in Jobs, news of his first authorized biography was the top story on blogs that week _ a rare occurrence for a technology story _ and the second top story on Twitter, according to the Pew Research Center.

“There are very few business people who’ve been cultural heroes, icons, heroic figures to ordinary people _ and we desperately want these heroes,” Deutschman says.

“We needed Steve’s story.”