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Elon Musk
Cover of Elon Musk
Elon Musk
Borrow Borrow
#1 New York Times bestseller

From the author of Steve Jobs and other bestselling biographies, this is the astonishingly intimate story of the most fascinating and controversial innovator of our era—a rule-breaking visionary who helped to lead the world into the era of electric vehicles, private space exploration, and artificial intelligence. Oh, and took over Twitter.

When Elon Musk was a kid in South Africa, he was regularly beaten by bullies. One day a group pushed him down some concrete steps and kicked him until his face was a swollen ball of flesh. He was in the hospital for a week. But the physical scars were minor compared to the emotional ones inflicted by his father, an engineer, rogue, and charismatic fantasist.

His father's impact on his psyche would linger. He developed into a tough yet vulnerable man-child, prone to abrupt Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings, with an exceedingly high tolerance for risk, a craving for drama, an epic sense of mission, and a maniacal intensity that was callous and at times destructive.

At the beginning of 2022—after a year marked by SpaceX launching thirty-one rockets into orbit, Tesla selling a million cars, and him becoming the richest man on earth—Musk spoke ruefully about his compulsion to stir up dramas. "I need to shift my mindset away from being in crisis mode, which it has been for about fourteen years now, or arguably most of my life," he said.

It was a wistful comment, not a New Year's resolution. Even as he said it, he was secretly buying up shares of Twitter, the world's ultimate playground. Over the years, whenever he was in a dark place, his mind went back to being bullied on the playground. Now he had the chance to own the playground.

For two years, Isaacson shadowed Musk, attended his meetings, walked his factories with him, and spent hours interviewing him, his family, friends, coworkers, and adversaries. The result is the revealing inside story, filled with amazing tales of triumphs and turmoil, that addresses the question: are the demons that drive Musk also what it takes to drive innovation and progress?
#1 New York Times bestseller

From the author of Steve Jobs and other bestselling biographies, this is the astonishingly intimate story of the most fascinating and controversial innovator of our era—a rule-breaking visionary who helped to lead the world into the era of electric vehicles, private space exploration, and artificial intelligence. Oh, and took over Twitter.

When Elon Musk was a kid in South Africa, he was regularly beaten by bullies. One day a group pushed him down some concrete steps and kicked him until his face was a swollen ball of flesh. He was in the hospital for a week. But the physical scars were minor compared to the emotional ones inflicted by his father, an engineer, rogue, and charismatic fantasist.

His father's impact on his psyche would linger. He developed into a tough yet vulnerable man-child, prone to abrupt Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings, with an exceedingly high tolerance for risk, a craving for drama, an epic sense of mission, and a maniacal intensity that was callous and at times destructive.

At the beginning of 2022—after a year marked by SpaceX launching thirty-one rockets into orbit, Tesla selling a million cars, and him becoming the richest man on earth—Musk spoke ruefully about his compulsion to stir up dramas. "I need to shift my mindset away from being in crisis mode, which it has been for about fourteen years now, or arguably most of my life," he said.

It was a wistful comment, not a New Year's resolution. Even as he said it, he was secretly buying up shares of Twitter, the world's ultimate playground. Over the years, whenever he was in a dark place, his mind went back to being bullied on the playground. Now he had the chance to own the playground.

For two years, Isaacson shadowed Musk, attended his meetings, walked his factories with him, and spent hours interviewing him, his family, friends, coworkers, and adversaries. The result is the revealing inside story, filled with amazing tales of triumphs and turmoil, that addresses the question: are the demons that drive Musk also what it takes to drive innovation and progress?
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About the Author-
  • Walter Isaacson is the bestselling author of biographies of Jennifer Doudna, Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein. He is a professor of history at Tulane and was CEO of the Aspen Institute, chair of CNN, and editor of Time. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2023. Visit him at Isaacson.Tulane.edu.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 2, 2023
    Reckless ambition, ruthless drive, and psychic demons swaddle the soul of a wounded child in this sweeping biography of the celebrated industrialist. Biographer Isaacson (Steve Jobs) paints Musk as a tech visionary who wants to colonize Mars with his rocket company SpaceX, decarbonize transportation with his Tesla electric cars, and guarantee freedom of speech on the internet (as long as said speech doesn’t personally offend him) by buying Twitter. He portrays Musk as an innovator who embraced risk-taking both for better (he replaced a standard, $3-million cooling system on his rockets with a commercial home air-conditioning system costing $6,000) and worse (his decision to leave out a part designed to keep fuel from sloshing caused a rocket to explode in mid-flight). Musk is a callous, volatile boss, raging at underlings and forcing them to work round-the-clock. (“You have ninety days to do it. If you can’t make that work, your resignation is accepted” went a typical pep talk.) And he’s a monumental head case—as a boy, a loner abused by his father and beaten bloody by bullies; as a man, a manic-depressive drawn to chaos in business, romance, and any number of ill-considered Tweets. Isaacson shadowed Musk for two years and conjures a richly detailed, evocative portrait that nails his impulsive personality. The result is an illuminating study that demonstrates why Musk is the most captivating of today’s plutocrats.

  • AudioFile Magazine Walter Isaacson offers a well-researched, if stodgy, biography of Elon Musk--the dramatic innovator and inventor we associate primarily with Tesla and SpaceX. Isaacson himself straightforwardly narrates the prologue without noticeable emphasis or engagement for the listener. Jeremy Bobb then assumes the narration and has his hands full with this weighty challenge. Employing minimal modulation in the somewhat tedious fact-filled text, he emphasizes the darker and more negative aspects of Musk's personal and business personality. Listeners will find it all here--Musk's challenging early life in South Africa, his problematic relationships with his family, and the focused hatred aimed his way for his purchase of Twitter, now renamed X. Bobb embraces the factual, no-nonsense tone of the text but offers little in performance to enhance it. W.A.G. © AudioFile 2023, Portland, Maine
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    Simon & Schuster Audio
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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