[T]his 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 Book Review
[A] spirited and riveting biography.
The SpaceX and Tesla founder certainly sees setbacks as an unavoidable part of innovation. But a brilliant new biography paints a picture of him as an obsessive, intolerant perfectionist.
[A] spirited and riveting biography.
Mr. Vance tells the stories of both SpaceX and Tesla with intricacy and insight. . . . What does come through is a sense of legitimate wonder at what humans can accomplish when they aim high, and aim weird.
…until we see how things finish up many years from nowWill Tesla crash? Will SpaceX take us to Mars before NASA? Will Musk become the richest person in the world?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.
The New York Times Book Review - Jon Gertner
[Not] the first biography we've had of Mr. Musk, nor will it be the last. But it is easily the richest to date. It's also the first one Mr. Musk has cooperated with…The result is a book that is smart, light on its feet and possesses a crunchy thoroughness…[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. It's the story of an intelligent man, for sure. But more so it is the story of a determined one.
The New York Times - Dwight Garner
Vance (Geek Silicon Valley) paints a complicated picture of a complicated man in this biography of Silicon Valley tycoon Elon Musk. Vance follows Musk from a difficult childhood in South Africa to his education at Queen’s University in Ontario and later at the University of Pennsylvania. Musk’s early successes with Internet start-ups were only the beginning. He became the prime mover behind SpaceX, “the only private company to dock with the ISS”; Tesla, maker of the Model S electric car; and SolarCity, a solar power company with a unique business model. Throughout, Vance elucidates Musk’s unusual combination of vision, determination, intelligence, whimsy, and ruthlessness that enabled these successes. He describes Musk not as someone “chasing momentary opportunities in the business world” but as someone “trying to solve problems that have been consuming him for decades.” Vance ably conveys the reality of this man who is both a dreamer and a doer. Agent: David Patterson, Foundry Literary + Media. (May)
Mr. Vance tells the stories of both SpaceX and Tesla with intricacy and insight. . . . What does come through is a sense of legitimate wonder at what humans can accomplish when they aim high, and aim weird. — Dwight Garner, New York Times
“[T]his 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 Book Review
“[A] spirited and riveting biography.” — Wall Street Journal
“The SpaceX and Tesla founder certainly sees setbacks as an unavoidable part of innovation. But a brilliant new biography paints a picture of him as an obsessive, intolerant perfectionist.” — Financial Times
“Fascinating and superbly researched…” — The Guardian UK
Fascinating and superbly researched…
Known for the companies he has founded or developed including PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX, Elon Musk has had a huge impact on multiple industries and is poised to have a major impact on how the world consumes energy. This timely biography, built on interviews with colleagues, past and present employees, and Musk himself, begins with the story of the businessman's adventurous ancestors, his unconventional childhood, and how an aptitude for programming fueled early successes. The story combines celebrity, science, business, and ambition in a new take on the American dream in which start-ups change the world and the rugged individualist succeeds by building teams. Vance, a tech writer for the New York Times and Bloomberg Business, does an admirable job of balancing the highs and lows of Musk's outsized personality. He writes a thought-provoking chronicle that doesn't suffer for being only a first act, as Musk is still leading the field in innovation. VERDICT Vance's study cuts across genres and will inform even those who follow the tech world closely.—Catherine Lantz, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lib.
Fred Sanders narrates this smartly written biography with the right balance of gravitas and entertainment value, providing accents for some of the major characters including a convincing South African accent for the story's star. Elon Musk, in case you're not familiar, is a 21st- century Howard Hughes, a captivating entrepreneur who has disrupted entrenched industries that include banking (PayPal), aeronautics (SpaceX), automobiles (Tesla), and energy (Solar City). His life story makes for a riveting tale—he was a bullied teenager who grew up to build electric cars and launch rockets into space (as well as to become the model for Tony Stark, Robert Downey's character in the Iron Man movies). The combination of great narration, well-written and well-researched content, and a bigger-than-life subject propels this nuanced work into the upper atmosphere of audiobook biographies. R.W.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine
A look at aerospace/automotive mogul Elon Musk. It could be said that Bloomberg Businessweek writer Vance (Geek Silicon Valley: The Inside Guide to Palo Alto, Stanford, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Santa Clara, 2007) has provided a much-needed portrait of an Internet-age hero, but that would depend on whether one's idea of a hero is, say, a Doctors Without Borders physician or the self-made founder of Tesla and SpaceX. Musk's ultimate ambition is to someday "die on Mars," a hypothetical event that some of his more outspoken critics may not root against. After enduring a South African childhood marked by divorce and beatings at school, Musk moved to Canada and, from there, the United States, where he earned a degree at the University of Pennsylvania. He left his Stanford doctorate program after two years to participate in the wave of Silicon Valley startups, helming a couple of half-realized but promising business ventures, both of which he sold for millions (one was an early incarnation of PayPal). Soon, Musk's ambitions became too big for the narrow Silicon Valley framework. He took his money and invested not only in a rocket-building company (SpaceX), but also a boutique electric car manufacturer (Tesla), among other side ventures. After years of frustration, Tesla and SpaceX became profitable companies almost simultaneously, and Musk was worth billions of dollars and beset with new aspirations to make human beings an "interplanetary" species. Though Vance doesn't spend the entire book praising his subject—he does provide peeks at a man who sometimes rules his techie fiefdom by fear and treats his significant others like employees—the author undermines journalistic objectivity by excusing Musk's tyrannical behavior as the prerogative of a Nietzschean superman working to save humanity. Despite Vance's best efforts, Musk comes off as another megalomaniacal hypercapitalist whose stock in trade is luxury goods and services for luxury clients.