Elon Musk

Elon MuskBecause it looks for all the world like Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, complete with stark typography and its subject looking appropriately thoughtful, Musk is probably happier with this book than anyone else alive. Along with his infamous Aspergers tendencies, he’s supposed to have a planet-sized ego to go along with his aspirations in space travel, electric vehicles and online technologies.

With access to Musk himself – Isaacson shadowed him for several years – as well as almost everyone else in his business and personal lives, the author paints a picture that’s pretty warts and all. It has to be said that few in society have Musk’s ambitions to dream big and put enormous resources behind such grand ambitions (SpaceX has an ultimate aim to provide affordable human emigration to Mars in order to preserve the human race).

But the book highlights plenty of personal demons and failings as well, including airing plenty of dirty laundry from his upbringing and the way he treats people in his work and life.

If you think you know Musk from the breathless media coverage of his exploits, there are still plenty of tidbits that put his mysterious and sometimes erratic behaviour in context. His purchase of Twitter, for instance, seemed like a ‘I’m-doing-this-just-to-prove-to-everyone-how-rich-I-am’ move, especially as the platform is now a shadow of its former self following his takeover.

But with the longstanding desire to make a single unfettered ecommerce/social media platform Isaacson talks about, the purchase made perfect sense, even down to the seemingly ill-advised rebranding as ‘X’.

It’s a huge tome but you’ll find yourself breezing through it in just a few sittings, as much a testament to Isaacson’s talent with digestible turn of phrase as any interest you have in Musk himself.