Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2012

Walter Isaacson

One indication of influence is the ability to stand boldly against hostile trends and thereby alter them. The age of landmark biographies had, we might assume, long since passed, replaced by one of short attention spans, interactive gadgets and fewer bookstores. Enter Walter Isaacson and his trio of brilliant works about men of genius — Franklin, Einstein and Jobs. This is influence of the best species, educating us while demonstrating the continued fascination of the seriously examined life, rendered by Isaacson with the objectivity of a true historian and the flair of a born storyteller. But what most separates Isaacson, 59, from would-be peers is his wisdom in choosing subjects whose individual talents have affected all our lives. We care, and so we read, and so we learn — first one lesson, then many. Both as an author and as president of the intellectually fertile Aspen Institute, Isaacson is a purveyor of knowledge, a supplier to addicts who seek a deeper understanding of all manner of things.

Albright, a former U.S. Secretary of State, is chair of Albright Stonebridge Group

Isaacson is a former editor of TIME