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Elon Musk: Tesla, SpacX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Ashlee Vance

  • Review by Maria Kelleher

  • 416 pages

  • Harper Collins

  • January 2017

If you want to understand a technical revolution, it helps to understand the brains behind it – Bill Gates for Microsoft, Steve Jobs for Apple, or the book I am about to recommend – a biography of Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance.  Musk believes we have destroyed our planet, and need to move to Mars, and this firm (somewhat crazy) belief drives everything he works on – most notably rockets and batteries.


From this book, you understand Musk’s family background, his interest in technology, as well as how he used the money from the sale of his interest in PayPal to finance SpaceX (building rockets), SolarCity (renting solar systems to householders) and Tesla (building electric vehicles – so essential in our climate change fight). You begin to see that he will never give up, which is a good thing for us. He is so driven and committed to his vision of a future low-carbon economy where rockets are reused, and cars run on batteries, that he will keep going until the thing gets done.  Look at Tesla—it is a total miracle on many levels that the company survived, but it did, and this book helps to explain that part of the story.

The book is full of stories of Elon rolling up his sleeves to get totally involved in solving technical problems at the Tesla factory. When you get a sense of the leader, you get a sense of why Tesla has survived against stunning odds. We are very lucky Elon Musk created Tesla at the time he did and proved that full electric battery-based vehicles are viable.  Tesla has started a revolution; electric vehicles are an essential element of the plan for a low-carbon future.

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