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Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future Hardcover – May 19 2015
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"Ashlee Vance's portrait of the entrepreneur at mid-life is an essential read . . . a riveting portrait of Silicon Valley's most driven entrepreneur since Steve Jobs." - The Financial Times ^"The result is a book that is smart, light on its feet and possesses a crunchy thoroughness. . . . Mr. Vance delivers a well-calibrated portrait of Mr. Musk, so that we comprehend both his friends and his enemies. It's a book with many ancillary pleasures. Mr. Vance brings us up to date on the states of green energy and space launches. He also veers away from his subject just often enough, offering profiles of the frequently brilliant people who work alongside Mr. Musk The best thing Mr. Vance does in this book, though, is tell Mr. Musk's story simply and well."- The New York Times ^"Really good biographies stand out in two ways. First, they provide lots of zesty stories that haven't been told before. Beyond that, they explain all the zigzags and false clues of a prominent person's life, in a way that makes the total picture come into focus. . . it's clear that this new Musk bio delivers the goods in both respects. . . Ashlee Vance provides a wealth of insights about how this tech titan operates." - Forbes
"Vance's lively book yields all manner of fascinating insights about Musk's companies, his vision, and his personal life." - Slate ^"Of the many profiles of business leaders, Vance's take on Musk is among the best. The author's objective and unbiased viewpoint captures Musk's good and bad, his achievements and failures." - The Motley Fool
"Vance's book is a masterful piece of reporting." - Vice
"Musk rivals Jobs in the same way this book rivals Isaacson's classic." - Whitney Tilson Founder, Kase Capital Management
From the Back Cover
Elon Musk is the most daring entrepreneur of our time
There are few industrialists in history who could match Elon Musk's relentless drive and ingenious vision. A modern alloy of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs, Musk is the man behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and SolarCity, each of which has sent shock waves throughout American business and industry. More than any other executive today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as a science fiction fantasy.
In this lively, investigative account, veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance offers an unprecedented look into the remarkable life and times of Silicon Valley's most audacious businessman. Written with exclusive access to Musk, his family, and his friends, the book traces his journey from his difficult upbringing in South Africa to his ascent to the pinnacle of the global business world. Vance spent more than fifty hours in conversation with Musk and interviewed close to three hundred people to tell the tumultuous stories of Musk's world-changing companies and to paint a portrait of a complex man who has renewed American industry and sparked new levels of innovation—all while making plenty of enemies along the way.
In 1992, Elon Musk arrived in the United States as a ferociously driven immigrant bent on realizing his wildest dreams. Since then, Musk's roller-coaster life has brought him grave disappointments alongside massive successes. After being forced out of PayPal, fending off a life-threatening case of malaria, and dealing with the death of his infant son, Musk abandoned Silicon Valley for Los Angeles. He spent the next few years baffling his friends by blowing his entire fortune on rocket ships and electric cars. Cut to 2012, however, and Musk had mounted one of the greatest resurrections in business history: Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity had enjoyed unparalleled success, and Musk's net worth soared to more than $5 billion.
At a time when many American companies are more interested in chasing easy money than in taking bold risks on radical new technology, Musk stands out as the only businessman with enough dynamism and vision to tackle—and even revolutionize—three industries at once. Vance makes the case that Musk's success heralds a return to the original ambition and invention that made America an economic and intellectual powerhouse. Elon Musk is a brilliant, penetrating examination of what Musk's career means for a technology industry undergoing dramatic change and offers a taste of what could be an incredible century ahead.
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If there's any disappointment to be had here, it's that we don't really get more than occasional glimpses of how Musk's internal processes work - how he approaches a problem in detail. But, that will probably come as Musk becomes older and more reflective. For now, he is very much a committed man of action.
This was a fascinating read on one of the most compelling people alive today. If Musk pulls off even a part of his dreams, he could well become the most important person in human history. He is a man worth getting to know.
The guy was born in South Africa, moved to Canada and received his first degree in Engineering from Queens University in Ontario. Then he made his way to the States after accumulating some Canadian business men as friends and believers. He also attended Penn and later Stanford to widen his knowledge. He had and still has a knack for raising money for what sometimes appear to be crazy ideas. What a completely electric car with no dealers to sell it? What design a network of electrical fill up stations across America? What send supplies to Mars and have humans start a settlement there and begin terre-forming the planet to be able to sustain human beings in order to save the species? Sound a little nuts? He's doing it all and Tesla is making and selling those electric cars. And SpaceX has successfully sent payloads to the international space station and returned the rocket to earth. And it won't be long before those payloads include people. And as for Mars, just wait and see. If anyone can do it, Elon Musk will.
Money is not the reason Elon Musk does these things. I truly believe he is trying to change to world for better, making it cleaner and greener and eventually finding another habitat for humans when it becomes necessary. I think he does it because he is a special kind of genius. Though in order to prove to the money people he has to make billions to raise the multi billions he needs to further his ambitions.
I haven't been as enthralled with a biography for such a long time. It's made me a huge fan of Elon Musk.
Top international reviews
insightful stories and details about his companies and the struggles to get them off the ground
very inspiring and great book
Highly recommend to any Elon fan
An interesting read for me, considering I never went in depth into what Musk has accomplished (to be fair, I came to this book because I find Tesla cars sexy and thought ‘well, why not read this, at least I’ll know more about the man’).
I’m kind of sitting on the fence about this book. I liked learning about how Musk’s companies came to be, the problems encountered along the way, how things were at times one inch from just failing, but worked out in the end, out of both luck and determination. In a way, it’s a positive ‘lesson’: that sometimes things fail, but it shouldn’t prevent you from fighting for them and taking risks, because they just may succeed as well.
I also appreciated that the author interviewed other people, employees, ex-employees, friends, ex-partners, etc., and that he made them part of the whole: people without whom Tesla Motors or SpaceX wOuld’ve never been able to take off, engineers and mechanics and designers whose role was absolutely not negligible. Since a large part of the book was focused on these companies, acknowledging more than just one actor was a good thing to do.
I would’ve d liked it to go more in depth about how exactly things worked out, when it comes to the science/engineering part. Elon Musk seems like he knows his stuff, too, and has learnt over the years what he didn’t know and made him shoot for impossible deadlines at first (now I guess they’re just improbable, hah), and… I don’t know, I expected something more detailed in that regard. Maybe less of the business aspect, and more about the engineering the way Elon Musk himself goes about it?
Also, for a biography, I think it didn’t go to the bottom of things either when it comes to the man, and lacks a certain detachment. Musk doesn’t come off as a very empathetic person, to say the least, and while objectively I understand his drive, humanely the way he treats his employees is, well, not great at all. So I would’ve been interested in seeing more reflecting about this: coming from him, but also coming from the biographer. There -is- something wrong in the way all these visionary projects have come to be, and it was pretty much glossed over. (In short, was the harshness really needed, does innovation has to come to such a price, and would things have tanked with just a bit more empathy?)
This was instructive, and I kind of liked it, so 3 stars… But while I know more about Tesla Motors, SolarCity and SpaceX, I don’t feel like I know -that- much more about Musk himself now.
Prior to reading the book, I thought that my knowledge of Musk was pretty good. However, I still found there was a new surprise on every page.Vance has done well to capture a story of the billionaire's background, from bullied schoolboy to minimum wage worker, right through to him becoming one of the most pioneering minds of a generation.
It is an honest and fair portrayal of both his family and business life, a pleasure to read and delves just enough into the areas of interest in the subject's life.
Anyone looking for some inspiration should definitely buy this book!
Insight in to not only a gifted brain but the ability of Musk to see the advantage of bringing together the greatest brains and putting every penny of his fortune to the betterment of mankind through science and simple logic if you have the foresight of brilliance.
Elon if ever proof was needed this book is proof that he is a gift to Humanity. May his God Bless him.☺
This book takes you on a concise yet anecdotally rich story of the life of Elon (includes accounts of his great grand parents too) painting the struggles of a child that morphed through different cycles into the person we think we know. It paints instances of his genius as well as extracts of his harsh and sweet sides too. Guess you don't change the world by being cookie-cutter nice. 😅
I especially enjoyed how Ashlee managed to rope in accounts of co-founders and their signifance in the companies for which Elon has become the poster child of, the economic and social considerations that influenced them, as well as how we got to have a new sided "Elon did everything" view of these companies in, and more.
I have walked away with a great appreciation of the sacrifice Elon and the workmates that have laughed, cried, mourned, and exhibited a plethora of other emotions as Elon's "Unified Theory" has began to come to fruition. I am especially pleased to see the accounts of loyal employees who stay in the dark despite carrying most of the work but being motivated by the common goal. What a tale! It may be sad in some cases but to see that someone, who others would happily take on offering more praise and maybe more pay, stay on because they believe in the dream and goal; that to me makes working for Elon great and worth the pain.
Hopefully I shall find out at some point too 😉
In short, I thoroughly recommend this book! Thank you Ashlee, thank you Elon Musk and Co.
But then no one is perfect. This book is brilliant at going through his life up to a few years ago, warts and all. It's not a sycophantic false look and holding him on a pedestal. More it explains who he is, for the good and bad.
A very very strong recommendation.
There were moments when I wouldn’t shove a page or a quote in front of the closest person and get them to read it to highlight the genius that is Elon Musk.
The book was published a few years ago, so don’t expect the most recent falcon heavy launch to appear in there!!
As a result, Elon Musk pops up everywhere, when checking Tesla details.
SpaceX appealed. Literally reaching for the stars and believing it could be done.
Well now I have read this well written and balanced book, I know much more about Mr Musk. I admire his achievement traits but hope he learns to soften the after burn when ending an employee's job. Every person counts.
I also fully believe Elon Musk will help us reach Mars. He has gifts the rest of us do not, although perhaps we can identify with some.
A great read. It's 5am and I just had to get to the end of the book! Nuff said.
Highly highly recommended reading to anyone interested in the evolution of many of the technologies that we take for granted today.. An extraordinary book you definitely wont want put down..