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Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future Hardcover – May 19, 2015

4.6 out of 5 stars 1,728 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (May 19, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062301233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062301239
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,728 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When I walked into Barnes & Noble two weeks ago, I wasn't actually looking to purchase a book. Usually, I go in, browse for 30 minutes, and get out. But when I walked around to the Physics and Science section, the first thing I saw was Elon Musk's face.

Inevitably, I picked it up and began reading.

2 pages in, I decided I was in this for the long haul and sat on the floor, right there in the middle of the store. 15 pages in, my friends finally found me and forced me to leave. But I couldn't part with this. I needed this book. Those first 15 pages captured me like so few books do (in fact, only one book in the past year has totally stolen my attention like this).

So I bought Elon Musk feeling on top of the world and excited to keep reading.

I travel a lot between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, PA, so, since I'm in the middle of taking classes in Pittsburgh, I swore to only read this book on the bus, because I knew once I picked it up again, I wouldn't put down.

I was right.

The next day, I got on the bus, got to reading, and tuned out the world. Three hours later, I was nearly halfway through -- and WOW. Vance's writing style flowed right through my mind. No clunky sentences, no jarring phrases. It's such an easy book to read, despite the complex nature of the contents.

Elon Musk, if you don't know, is a biography. Yes, a biography. You'd expect the case-study of someone's life to be boring and uneventful, dragging until the very end.

This wasn't the case at all.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The best thing I have read on Elon Musk so far (and from what I understand, the only one that he has participated in himself). Vance is an excellent writer, and you may or may not be familiar with him from Bloomberg Business and other high profile writings. I loved the insight into Musk and how he operates, and you get a very broad and complete picture of Musk as a driven visionary that is absolutely set on delivering some of the most aspirational goals of any human in history. You also get some great insight into the overall ecosystem around Musk - his companies (SpaceX and Tesla primarily), relationships with other companies and gov entities, as well as the important people around him. Many bios give you a timeline of the person, but little insight into the broader context and I appreciated that in this book.

You get unique insight into his personal relationships, how he coped with things that went wrong (not always a pretty story), and how he manages through both failure and success. Since you learn so much about his childhood and formative years, you get a good grounding on why he is the way he is, and how those relationships developed.

Finally, you get a lot of detail around 'green' industry, space exploration, etc. which really fills out this ecosystem and delivers an inspiring and educational view of one of the most intriguing people of our lifetimes. The book almost seems to ask "What are you going to go out and reinvent?" Well worth reading and even gifting to friends who may be fans.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Solid, well researched book about Musk's early life, early companies (Zip2 and PayPal), and current companies (Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity). Throughout the book, Vance doesn't just let a startling assertion or quote stand still, he researches events to give the reader a balanced view of what transpired. This is especially important as there have more than a few highly charged emotional events in Musk's life and it would have been all too easy for a biographer to highlight the sensational at the expense of providing insight about complex events.

Vance starts the biography by delving just enough into Musk's early life to help understand who he has become.He then launches into fairly detailed accounts of his early companies (Zip2 and PayPal). These accounts are invaluable as there is little else available about these companies that is reliable and not agenda driven reporting.

SpaceX gets the most coverage in the book, befitting Musk's passion and time spent, although there is a reasonable amount of time devoted to Tesla and a relatively quick overview of SolarCity.

Oddly enough for a 400 page book, I sometimes wished he would provide a more blow by blow account - for instance there was no insight at all into any board meetings in any of the companies. In addition, Vance does not delve in any real depth into the complex technology that Musk has created, relegating the very few verbatim explanations from Musk to footnotes. There was a lot of boosterism about the companies, and while Vance did try to describe a timeline, in the end the book had a lot of unconnected vignettes and stories.

Having said all this, it is a very readable, very interesting book. The 2008 triple Musk meltdown (personal life, SpaceX and Tesla) was gripping. Most people who have not been watching Musk's every move for the past 20 years will find lots of new information here, presented in a very balanced and entertaining way.
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