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Would Steve Jobs have offered Tim Cook a piece of his liver?

March 13, 2015, 2:34 PM UTC

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 7.27.52 AMKnowing Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli, both former Fortune editors, I can’t wait to read their new book, Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart.

Both authors come to the story with a deeper background in the personal computer industry than Walter Isaacson, Jobs’ official biographer. And Schlender, in particular, had a long, personal relationship with his subject.

The book isn’t scheduled for release until March 24, but bits and pieces are being released by Fast Company, where Tetzeli is executive editor. The excerpt that’s getting the most attention is Tim Cook’s revelation that he offered his dying boss a portion of his liver — a story Cook tells to counter Isaacson’s portrayal of Jobs as, in Cook’s words, “a greedy, selfish egomaniac.”

“He cut me off at the legs, almost before the words were out of my mouth,” said Cook. “‘No,’ he said. ‘I’ll never let you do that. I’ll never do that.’”

“Somebody that’s selfish,” Cook continues, “doesn’t reply like that. I mean, here’s a guy, he’s dying, he’s very close to death because of his liver issue, and here’s someone healthy offering a way out. I said, ‘Steve, I’m perfectly healthy, I’ve been checked out. Here’s the medical report. I can do this and I’m not putting myself at risk, I’ll be fine.’ And he doesn’t think about it. It was not, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ It was not, ‘I’ll think about it.’ It was not, ‘Oh, the condition I’m in . . .’ It was, ‘No, I’m not doing that!’ He kind of popped up in bed and said that. And this was during a time when things were just terrible. Steve only yelled at me four or five times during the 13 years I knew him, and this was one of them.”

As I read the excerpt — taken from Fast Company — it says more about Tim Cook than it does about Steve Jobs. If Cook needed a new liver, do you think Jobs would have offered a piece of his?

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.