Book Review: Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

This is an excellent, well-detailed biography in the tradition of Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs.” And the comparisons clearly extend beyond the simple scope of the works, but to the great similarities between the two subjects. Vance makes periodic references to the two icons throughout the book, and there’s an especially interesting discussion about the differences between the two men – essentially that Jobs was largely market oriented whereas Musk appears sincerely to want to save humanity. Which is not to suggest that you’ll come away from the book with a heroic image of him. Vance is quite thorough in his examination of Musk’s motivations and character and, although it appears the author’s view is that Musk is an almost venerable figure on balance, he makes no apologies or excuses for the clear self-absorption that defines Musk and his approach to his businesses. One does hope that success in business and a visionary approach to human behaviors doesn’t require the selfish determination and insensitive disinterest in the feelings of others that appear to define people like Jobs and Musk, but this biography certainly will leave you with the sense that these traits are a big part of Musk’s success and of what may ultimately lead to the changes in transportation, energy use and space exploration he envisions.