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Steve Jobs channeled 'a past life as a World War II pilot'

A new book by Steve Jobs' former girlfriend Chrisann Brennan offers that the Apple co-founder was fascinated by the 1940s.

3 min read

When things aren't going well, I believe that in a former life I was Genghis Khan and this is my punishment.

I cannot, though, vouch for what Steve Jobs may (or may not) have been thinking when describing his former life. For he apparently told his one-time girlfriend, Chrisann Brennan, that he believed he had been a World War II pilot.

I imagine he must have been a fighter pilot.

As the New York Post reports (headline: "Ex dishes on sex life with Steve Jobs"), Brennan is about to release a book about her life with Jobs. It's called "The Bite in the Apple: A Memoir of My Life With Steve Jobs."

It's billed on Amazon as an "intimate look at the life of Steve Jobs by the mother of his first child providing rare insight into Jobs's formative, lesser-known years."

The marketing spiel also offers: "Brennan writes with depth and breadth, and she doesn't buy into all the hype."

This hype-freedom may mean it has a valuable first-person role to play in the chronicling of a remarkable man. May.

Brennan had a daughter, Lisa, with Jobs in 1978 when they were both in their early 20s. (For many years, Jobs denied he was Lisa's father.)

The first excerpt, though, released by the publishers focuses not on parenthood. Instead, it paints an image of Jobs as someone who wanted his car to take off:

Steve often said that he had a strong sense of having had a past life as a World War II pilot. He'd tell me how, when driving, he felt a strong impulse to pull the steering wheel back as if for takeoff. It was a curious thing for him to say, but he did have that sense of unadorned glamor from the forties.

Jobs's fascination with the 1940s was apparently so great that he adored the big-band music of Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Count Basie.

He even, according to Brennan, danced like someone from the '40s.

She says in the book:

So I could see the fit: Steve as a young man with all that American ingenuity from a less encumbered time, with that simple sense of right and wrong. But that's not how I pictured him in 1977. Apple was taking off and Steve wasn't in an airplane, he was in a rocket ship blasting out beyond the atmosphere of what anyone imagined possible. And he was changing.

What follows is a description of how, once he began to be successful, Jobs didn't want to do the dishes and was rude to restaurant staff. He also criticized Brennan for having too many wrinkles.

Our own memories have wrinkles too. Sometimes, we choose to remember the things that make us look good and forget the items that might not.

As time passes, our view of those who were once close to us can harden or soften. This can often depend on any interaction since, and how each of the separate lives has progressed.

From the excerpt released (the book is set to publish on October 29), Brennan presents a nuanced picture of a man whose head was turned by success and who became -- a word that has been used about Jobs before -- "vicious."

She originally met the Apple co-founder in high school, so this portrait is intended to be a far more personal view of Jobs in his formative years.

At one time, he may have had a simple sense of right and wrong. However, as time progresses, one's sense of what is right and wrong can become twisted by experience.

Ultimately, it may well be that people will attempt to link any new details about Jobs in this book with decisions -- both in life and work -- that he subsequently made.

At heart, though, he probably was a mixture of the good, the bad, and the ugly.

As are most of us.