Elon Musk

Written by:
Walter Isaacson
Narrated by:
Jeremy Bobb

Unabridged Audiobook

Ratings
Book
160
Narrator
35
Release Date
September 2023
Duration
20 hours 39 minutes
Summary
#1 New York Times bestseller

From the author of Steve Jobs and other bestselling biographies, this is the astonishingly intimate story of the most fascinating and controversial innovator of our era—a rule-breaking visionary who helped to lead the world into the era of electric vehicles, private space exploration, and artificial intelligence. Oh, and took over Twitter.

When Elon Musk was a kid in South Africa, he was regularly beaten by bullies. One day a group pushed him down some concrete steps and kicked him until his face was a swollen ball of flesh. He was in the hospital for a week. But the physical scars were minor compared to the emotional ones inflicted by his father, an engineer, rogue, and charismatic fantasist.

His father’s impact on his psyche would linger. He developed into a tough yet vulnerable man-child, prone to abrupt Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings, with an exceedingly high tolerance for risk, a craving for drama, an epic sense of mission, and a maniacal intensity that was callous and at times destructive.

At the beginning of 2022—after a year marked by SpaceX launching thirty-one rockets into orbit, Tesla selling a million cars, and him becoming the richest man on earth—Musk spoke ruefully about his compulsion to stir up dramas. “I need to shift my mindset away from being in crisis mode, which it has been for about fourteen years now, or arguably most of my life,” he said.

It was a wistful comment, not a New Year’s resolution. Even as he said it, he was secretly buying up shares of Twitter, the world’s ultimate playground. Over the years, whenever he was in a dark place, his mind went back to being bullied on the playground. Now he had the chance to own the playground.

For two years, Isaacson shadowed Musk, attended his meetings, walked his factories with him, and spent hours interviewing him, his family, friends, coworkers, and adversaries. The result is the revealing inside story, filled with amazing tales of triumphs and turmoil, that addresses the question: are the demons that drive Musk also what it takes to drive innovation and progress?
Reviews
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Jack C.

Isaacson's biases and politics oozes through the text. Worth listening, but Isaacson's psychoanalysis by proxy is tiring (frequently quotes the psychological analyses of others who express the negative opinion he wants to express).

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Adam G.

Fascinating book that helps one understand the motivations, aspirations, intellect and reasoning of this complex and brilliant human being.

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Red

The political bias of the Author is appalling.

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Chris B.

Great biography of a complex man.

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Deborah G.

I found it an overall interesting read. However, Isaacson was wrong about the Ukraine starlink deactivation issue, he should have done a better job researching this piece. His liberal bias is hard to hide during his Twitter sections. He only relies on input from Barry Weiss who shares his same political leaning. He doesn’t reach out to Taibbi or Schellenberger who were instrumental in uncovering the Twitter files, I found that surprising and biased. I’d advise questioning his assumptions and bias when reading. Whether you think Elon is a devil or an angel, he is a compelling force!

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Richard M.

Excellent insights into a young Elon’s environment and parenting that influenced him. His strong drive comes with some not so likable traits at times as the reader will discover. One of the most rule breaking, barrier breaking entrepreneurs to come along in a long time.

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John R.

I came into this one after listening to Walter's biography on Franklin (enjoyed it very much) and with only a superficial understanding of Musk, which was mostly negative. Right from the start I found myself drawn to the narrative and unexpectedly identified with the young Elon; my dad was a brilliant engineer and a cold, mean-spirited S.O.B. As the chapters unfolded I learned a tremendous amount not only about Musk the person but also about the transformative innovations he has dedicated his energies to making happen. Excellent book.

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Anonymous

Great book! Honestly I couldn’t stop listening to it. Elon has accomplished so much!

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