Book Review – Elon Musk

Thanks to Brian Bergman for the guest book review!

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
by Ashlee Vance, 2015

After watching Elon Musk’s conversation with Chris Anderson at TED2017 in April, Ashlee Vance’s timestamp book on him and his various pursuits rocketed (yes, I just did that) to the top of my “To Read” list. This quick read – about 300 pages – chronicles Elon’s personal life, his involvement and success with PayPal, and his work to launch Tesla Motors and SpaceX (with greater emphasis on the latter). Through interviews with Musk, his family, close friends, colleagues, and enemies he’s made along the way, Vance does a nice job of blending these perspectives and narratives with the technical details of what Musk and his companies are trying to accomplish. The book is full of entertaining and thought-provoking stories – Musk’s anger and response when learning another US automaker took the rights for “Model E,” how the Tesla team dismantled a Lotus and Mercedes CLS to design their cars, the modular design of SpaceX rockets, the list goes on.

Elon certainly gets his fair share of praise from the press and his cult of followers. Upon reading Vance’s book, it is hard for one not to appreciate Musk, not only for his ambition, but for the very sophisticated scientific/technical command he has over what his companies are trying to do. A bit dated now, this book is still a great window into the life of a unique person building some of the most disruptive companies of the early 21st century.

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