Before I start this review, let me state that I’m a huge fan of Elon Musk. I say this because most of the reviews you see for this book seem based more on whether the person doing the review likes or dislikes him.
I noticed this when I first started reading reviews on Amazon for the book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. Most of the reviews don’t even mention the book’s writing style, how it flows, how detailed the author was, etc.
Instead, you’ll hear people singing the praises of Musk or their criticisms of him and thus rating the book as great or subpar based on those biases.
As I stated, I’m a huge fan of the guy, however, that being said I had mixed feelings when it came to this biography by Ashlee Vance. In this review I’d like to explain why I felt this way after finishing it but I wanted people to realize this semi-negative review wasn’t based off a dislike of Musk.
Let me start by saying that the moment I started reading this book it captivated me. I couldn’t put it down. Admittedly it’s been a while since I’ve come across a book that had this effect on me so I was delighted at first. I started reading the book and immediately became intrigued by all the great stuff Musk has seemingly done and some of the things he had overcome. The book makes you feel like this is a man that has conquered life and is doing exactly what he has been destined to do without hesitation.
It’s almost inspirational and that in itself is the problem I had with the book. It almost seems like Ashlee himself fell in love with Musk through writing this book, meeting with him and interviewing him. At least that’s the impression the book gave off while reading it!
Again, I’m a huge fan of Musk and I think very highly of the man, however, when I read a biography I want to see it all. The good and the bad! While Ashlee does mention areas of Musk’s life where he struggled like his divorces, being removed as CEO from a couple companies, etc. It very quickly moves off those subjects never really providing any depth.
This left a taste in my mouth after finishing the book of wanting more!
I believe people’s psyche is not formed as much by their successes but by the adversities they overcome in life. To really understand why someone thinks the way they do or has the drive they do, you must look in to the dark parts of their life just as much as the positive parts.
This is an area I feel Ashlee failed to capture. It almost seemed that Ashlee paints Musk in this positive light throughout the book as a way of showing homage towards Musk.
The entirety of the book was good. Ashlee touched on Musk’s childhood, his companies (especially SpaceX and Tesla) and marriages, etc. It gave a lot of great information on the guy, his work ethic, his drive, etc.
In fact, if you asked me what book you should read to get a glimpse into the life of Musk, I’d have to recommend this specific book as it is the best biography out on him and one that Musk himself actually worked with the author to create.
Again, it was just something about how Ashlee mentioned the darker moments but never really expanded on them that left a bitter taste leading me to want more information than what was given.
If you are wanting a good book to read that gives insight in to one of the greatest visionaries (in my opinion) of our time then it’s still a great book to read, just realize you may be left wanting more at the end of the book.