Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

by Ashlee Vance


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In the spirit of Steve Jobs and Moneyball, Elon Musk is both an illuminating and authorized look at the extraordinary life of one of Silicon Valley’s most exciting, unpredictable, and ambitious entrepreneurs—a real-life Tony Stark—and a fascinating exploration of the renewal of American invention and its new “makers.”

Elon Musk spotlights the technology and vision of Elon Musk, the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, who sold one of his Internet companies, PayPal, for $1.5 billion. Ashlee Vance captures the full spectacle and arc of the genius’s life and work, from his tumultuous upbringing in South Africa and flight to the United States to his dramatic technical innovations and entrepreneurial pursuits.

Vance uses Musk’s story to explore one of the pressing questions of our age: can the nation of inventors and creators who led the modern world for a century still compete in an age of fierce global competition? He argues that Musk—one of the most unusual and striking figures in American business history—is a contemporary, visionary amalgam of legendary inventors and industrialists including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs. More than any other entrepreneur today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as the visionaries of the golden age of science-fiction fantasy.

Thorough and insightful, Elon Musk brings to life a technology industry that is rapidly and dramatically changing by examining the life of one of its most powerful and influential titans.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062301253
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/24/2017
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 21,771
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Ashlee Vance is one of the most prominent writers on technology today. After spending several years reporting on Silicon Valley and technology for the New York Times, Vance went to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, where he has written dozens of cover and feature stories for the magazine on topics ranging from cyber espionage to DNA sequencing and space exploration.

Table of Contents

1 Elon's World 1

2 Africa 23

3 Canada 45

4 Elon's First Start-Up 57

5 Paypal Mafia Boss 75

6 Mice In Space 97

7 All Electric 145

8 Pain, Suffering, and Survival 181

9 Liftoff 213

10 The Revenge of the Electric Car 263

11 The Unified Field Theory of Elon Musk 317

Epilogue 361

Appendix 1 375

Appendix 2 381

Appendix 3 387

Acknowledgments 393

Notes 397

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Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An easily read and engrossing book about a one-of-a-kind brilliant person. We own a Model Suitable and love it Now I understand how very special it is
syeu715 8 months ago
Wow, I really loved this book. Really loved it. It's the freshest read I've had in a long time. Honestly, I didn't know much about Elon at all before I started reading this book. I'd just heard of his name being mentioned at social events where people would mention some fantastic thing he was up to. I knew about some of his rocket stuff and Tesla, but that was about it. Wow, after reading this book, I was just blown away by the ethic, vision and drive of this man. So far, I've never read of another person being so ambitious and working with such a sense of urgency for the well-being of mankind. I was inspired beyond belief by the incredible, almost magical, things he is bringing to life; it was like being part of an exciting make believe movie, but the contents are real. This book did a great job of allowing me to understand who Elon is, to see the world through his eyes and to dream as he does. It's almost like he's a being from another planet brought here to advance the human species. Who else would have such a pressing desire to colonize Mars in case Earth fails us? Who else would desire to conquer the entire solar system? He sure thinks in an unconventional way and I loved the journey he put us on. He pushed the envelope so far, deemed the impossible possible and made it all happen before our very eyes. Consider me part of the Musk fanclub. I've gained so much from the pickings of his mind as this book offered us. What a great read. "Musk's ready willingness to tackle impossible things has turned him into a deity in Silicon Valley." "He does what he wants, and he is relentless about it. It's Elon's world, and the rest of us live in it." -Justine, ex wife "Musk wants to conquer the solar system, and, as it stands, there's just one company where you can work if that sort of quest gets you out of bed in the morning." "We just have a single proof point now that you can be really passionate about something that other people think is crazy and you can really succeed."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Musk seems to be a fascinating individual, but this biography left me wanting more, not really understanding the entrepreneur's motivations and fears. Well researched, but could have used better editing.
Yzabel More than 1 year ago
[NOTE: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.] 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A compelling story of an amazing man.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vance takes us intimately into the world of Musk and provides a solid portrait of the family history, business acumen and Musks achievement of lofty goals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Feels like reading one of Ayn Rands characters in The Fountainhead - a pioneer, a first hand thinker. Someone who gets things done - despite the world's doubts.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What the hell is an Elon Musk?!