The Walker Percy, Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs Connection

As usual Cosmos the in Lost is way out ahead of us on the Walker Percy six-month-old news front. This year mark’s the 25th anniversary of Walker Percy’s Jefferson Lecture. By design or lucky chance, this year’s Jefferson lecturer, Walter Isaacson, happens to have a very interesting Percy connection. Isaacson, the author of the much-acclaimed biography of Steve Jobs, is a friend of Percy’s nephew, and grew up knowing of Percy as “Uncle Walker.” His lecture on the intersection of science and the humanities, references “Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, Ada Lovelace, Walker Percy, and Edwin Land and others who fused humanistic thought with scientific discovery.”


  1. Quin Finnegan says

    Thanks, uh … Rufus. That clip about Pascal has always been a favorite. Here’s the thing, though: CTIL calls Tolson’s the best biography, but that can be parsed more accurately as “the best of the two available biographies” – which is fair enough, everyone being entitled to an opinion and all. Might even be my opinion. But it’s not as if Samway’s big book is a bad biography. There’s information you won’t find in the Tolson book. My opinion is really that I’m just glad there are two biographies out there. And I, like CTIL, will be happy to read a third by Isaacson, who after all did a bang up job on Mr Jobs. But will we then need to say which is the best of the three, which is the second best, and which is in third place – i.e., the worst? Why bother? The long and short (less long, anyway) is that we can’t get enough of Percy: novels, self-help books, letters, scraps of poetry from high school, bibliographies, slideshows … whatever. No need to turn it all into a big ol’ hassenfest on the poor old Jesuit who had the temerity to venture a second Percy biography.

  2. “The Jews are both a sign and a stumbling block.” WP.


  3. Broderick Barker says

    Rufus, you’ve been…away a while, so you may have missed this from 2012. The Percy-Isaacson-Jobs connection gets mentioned on the first page, and not even in the footnotes.

  4. A little secret of many nonfiction writers like myself—especially those of us who spring from journalism—is that we don’t quite think of ourselves as true writers, at least not of the sort who get called to reflect upon “the writing life.” At the time, my daughter, with all the wisdom and literary certitude that flowed from being a thirteen-year-old aspiring novelist, pointed out that I was not a “real writer” at all. I was merely, she said, a journalist and biographer.

    Amen. Amen.

    – See more at:

  5. Great clip. You’ve still got it.

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