Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
New York Times Bestseller – Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Audible and Amazon
In Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance provides the first inside look into the extraordinary life and times of Silicon Valley’s most audacious entrepreneur. Written with exclusive access to Musk, his family and friends, the book traces the entrepreneur’s journey from a rough upbringing in South Africa to the pinnacle of the global business world. Vance spent more than 30 hours in conversation with Musk and interviewed close to 300 people to tell the tumultuous stories of Musk’s world-changing companies: PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity, and to characterize a man who has renewed American industry and sparked new levels of innovation while making plenty of enemies along the way.
Vance uses Musk’s story to explore one of the pressing questions of our time: can the nation of inventors and creators which 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 amalgam of legendary inventors and industrialists like 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.
Ashlee Vance’s new book, ‘Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future,’ 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 Washington Post
It is the book I have enjoyed most this year. – Tyler Cowen, famed economist and best-selling author
The best business book I have read in years. – Don Graham, former publisher of 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. – The New York Times
Ashlee Vance’s portrait of the entrepreneur at mid-life is an essential read . . . a riveting portrait of Silicon Valley’s most driven entrepreneur since Steve Jobs. – The Financial Times
The result is 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
Really good biographies stand out in two ways. First, they provide lots of zesty stories that haven’t been told before. Beyond that, they explain all the zigzags and false clues of a prominent person’s life, in a way that makes the total picture come into focus. . . it’s clear that this new Musk bio delivers the goods in both respects. . . Ashlee Vance provides a wealth of insights about how this tech titan operates. – Forbes
Vance’s lively book yields all manner of fascinating insights about Musk’s companies, his vision, and his personal life. – Slate
Of the many profiles of business leaders, Vance’s take on Musk is among the best. The author’s objective and unbiased viewpoint captures Musk’s good and bad, his achievements and failures. – The Motley Fool
Vance left few, if any, stones unturned . . . A detailed portrait of a figure both loved and feared–sometimes by the same people at the same time. – The Space Review
Vance’s book is a masterful piece of reporting. – Vice
Musk rivals Jobs in the same way this book rivals Isaacson’s classic. – Whitney Tilson Founder, Kase Capital Management
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)
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 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)
From the Inside Flap
There are few industrialists in history who could match Elon Musk’s relentless drive and ingenious vision. A modern alloy of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs, Musk is the man behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and SolarCity, each of which has sent shock waves throughout American business and industry. More than any other executive today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as a science fiction fantasy.
In this lively, investigative account, veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance offers an unprecedented look into the remarkable life and times of Silicon Valley’s most audacious businessman. Written with exclusive access to Musk, his family, and his friends, the book traces his journey from his difficult upbringing in South Africa to his ascent to the pinnacle of the global business world. Vance spent more than fifty hours in conversation with Musk and inter- viewed close to three hundred people to tell the tumultuous stories of Musk’s world-changing companies and to paint a portrait of a complex man who has renewed American industry and sparked new levels of innovation–all while making plenty of enemies along the way.
In 1992, Elon Musk arrived in the United States as a ferociously driven immigrant bent on realizing his wildest dreams. Since then, Musk’s roller-coaster life has brought him grave disappointments alongside massive successes. After being forced out of PayPal, fending off a life-threatening case of malaria, and dealing with the death of his infant son, Musk abandoned Silicon Valley for Los Angeles. He spent the next few years baffling his friends by blowing his entire fortune on rocket ships and electric cars. Cut to 2012, however, and Musk had mounted one of the greatest resurrections in business history: Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity had enjoyed unparalleled success, and Musk’s net worth soared to more than $5 billion.
At a time when many American companies are more interested in chasing easy money than in taking bold risks on radical new technology, Musk stands out as the only businessman with enough dynamism and vision to tackle–and even revolutionize–three industries at once. Vance makes the case that Musk’s success heralds a return to the original ambition and invention that made America an economic and intellectual powerhouse. Elon Musk is a brilliant, penetrating examination of what Musk’s career means for a technology industry undergoing dramatic change and offers a taste of what could be an incredible century ahead.
About the Author
Ashlee Vance is an award winning feature writer for Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. Vance is also the host of the Hello World TV show. Previously, he worked for The New York Times and The Register.
Vance was born in South Africa, grew up in Texas and attended Pomona College. He has spent more than a decade covering the technology industry from San Francisco and is a noted Silicon Valley historian.