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Elon Musk (B) Paperback – 8 April 2016
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From the Publisher
For anyone interested in technology, entrepreneurship or the price of greatness, Ashlee Vance's new book is a tremendous look into arguably the world's most important entrepreneur. Vance paints an unforgettable picture of Musk's unique personality, insatiable drive and ability to thrive through hardship. The book bursts with telling anecdotes and quotes that illuminate who Musk is ― The Washington Post
Exhaustively reported . . . this work will likely serve as the definitive account of a man whom so far we've seen mostly through caricature. By the final pages, too, any reader will sense the need to put comparisons to Steve Jobs aside. Give Musk credit. There is no one like him ― New York Times
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
Ashlee Vance’s stellar biography captures Musk’s remarkable life story and irrepressible spirit ― Richard Branson
About the Author
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- ASIN : 0753555646
- Publisher : Virgin Books (8 April 2016); Penguin Random House UK
- Language : English
- Paperback : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0008279659
- ISBN-13 : 978-0008279653
- Item Weight : 290 g
- Dimensions : 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.49 cm
- Country of Origin : United Kingdom
- Importer : Penguin Random House
- Packer : Penguin Random House
- Generic Name : Books
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #3 in Engineering & Technology (Books)
- #7 in Industries
- #13 in Entrepreneurship (Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in India on 17 June 2022
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In 2012, I was a freshman at College studying Automobile Engineering and remember watching a program on Discovery Channel showcasing the faster vehicles in all variants and that's how I got to know about Tesla Roadster and it's Chief Executive Officer. I felt that was a very cool thing to do when all others are sucking the resources beneath. I tried knowing more about him and got to know about the motives that run his investments on Tesla Motors (wants to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy), SpaceX (wants the human species multiplanetary - starting from Mars), SolarCity (figure out better ways to deliver clean, more affordable energy), Artificial Intelligence, Hyperloop subsonic Transportation ideas. And at first I thought maybe he got inspired from the fictional Character Tony Stark from the movie, Iron Man and it turns out the other way when I got to know more about the guy.
Being a space geek, I always love SpaceX plans from the day I watched the animation video of Falcon 9 featuring it's reusable capabilities. These people see things from a little different perspective than conventional us. I tried doing a project work on designing the key parameters of aerothermodynamics on Re-entry Space Capsule being inspired from his announcement on reusable rocket plans.
After such impact, the urge intensified to read his biography. His Haldemann family background from Canada to South Africa was ample enough to decipher the circumstances of which his mom was brought up. The writing style of the author is pretty engaging in my case as I was too keen in learning the man. Suffering has always been Elon’s thing. The kids at school tortured him. His father played brutal mind games. Musk then abused himself by working inhumane hours and forever pushing his businesses to the edge. The idea of work-life balance seems meaningless in this context. For Musk, it’s just life. So far it has been Zip2, X.com-Paypal, Tesla, SpaceX; Globalised Space internet, Hyperloop transportation, sponsorship of a city in Mars and many that we not know yet. I always wanted to know what it would feel like being Elon and this book gave me insights more than I expected. His relentless efforts on his unconventional direct plans, cruel stoicism towards his workers, his unimaginable Brain usage capability - not that I'm exaggerating, he rarely misuses or exploits his brain resources. My imagination holds as a bridge between the us and the "Ubermensch" as told by Grandpa Nietzsche.
"It will be a species very much like us. But with more of our strengths and fewer of our weaknesses. More confident, far-seeing, capable and prudent."
What I found beneath Elon was the self abnegation of fame getting into spotlights of many brilliant, extraordinary minds like J.B Straubel, Gwanne Shotwell, Tom Mueller, Jeremy Hollman, Kevin Brogan, Dave Lyons and Ali Javidan and his acquaintances like Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Richard Branson, Michael Griffin who helped in big time for Elon to get his image I see as a young, science enthusiastic indian lad.
"Who are we, if not measured by our impact on others? That’s who we are! We’re not who we say we are, we’re not who we want to be — we are the sum of the influence and impact that we have, in our lives, on others.”
Here's few highlighted opinions on Elon from his circles.
“Elon is one of the few people that I feel is more accomplished than I am,” says Craig Venter, the man who decoded the human genome and went on to create synthetic lifeforms. At some point he hopes to work with Musk on a type of DNA printer that could be sent to Mars.
“Everything he does is fast,” Brogan, SpaceX Employee No.23 says. “He pees fast. It’s like a fire hose—three seconds and out. He’s authentically in a hurry.”
"Around 8 P.M. on some weeknights at SpaceX when Musk would allow everyone to use their work computers to play first-person-shooter video games like Quake III Arena and Counter-Strike against each other. At the appointed hour, the sound of guns loading would cascade throughout the office as close to twenty people armed themselves for battle. Musk—playing under the handle Random9—often won the games, talking trash and blasting away his employees without mercy. 'The CEO is there shooting at us with rockets and plasma guns,' said Colonno."
Overall a very good work as biography of Elon Musk, the man who wants the human beings to transcend to the next level of civilization - that's completely biased, I guess
Vance opens the book at an interview with Elon Musk himself. The first line, a quote from Musk, "Do you think I'm insane?", perfectly captures the whole context of the biography. Because as you experience the story, you see the challenges Musk went through to reach the pinnacle he's at today. Vance shows how Musk is both the CEO and an employee of the company. His vision is THE vision, and he is known for not letting anything get in his way and his vision.
This isn’t just a poor kid turned rich story, Elon Musk was raised in family of few privileges and he made the most of things available to him and made his way to the top of the ladder, it is the story of his struggle, hard work, his failures and his iron will and determination to make a change for better in this world.
What I love most about Elon's story is how powerfully he deals with every obstacle thrown into his path. Literally nothing could stop him. Not looming bankruptcy or bad press or any of dozens of other issues that would have stopped most of us. In his unconventional, greatly criticized approach, Musk is making his childhood goals a reality. His central driving force; to better mankind. Open-sourcing Tesla's patents seems absurd, but money is not the catalyst here. Simply put, his pure drive and achievements are utterly astounding.
So is Elon Musk—-a) a genius, b) a lunatic, c) visionary d) worlds most important entrepreneur e) force of nature or f) all of the above
At various times during the reading of this book you will come to suspect that Elon Musk is each and every one of these things; and, at the end, come to conclude that only f)all of the above comes close to hitting the mark. As a mega-wealthy celebrity entrepreneur, Musk lives life larger than most of us—and that makes for very interesting, inspiring and entertaining reading.
Few good quotes
"Where Mark Zuckerberg wants to help you share baby photos, Musk wants to save the human race from self-imposed or accidental annihilation."
“I’m more convinced than ever that Musk is, and has always been, a man on a quest, and that his brand of quest is far more fantastic and consuming than anything most of us will ever experience.”
Last and best one.....
"This is Elon's world, and the rest of us just happen to live in it.".
Top reviews from other countries
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.
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
What was most interesting is that his "why" is not money making but solving problems like global warming or living on only one planet.
He's clearly had fortunate breaks, but he is a fascinating character.
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!