Cover Image: Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Free courtesy of Netgalley.

I knew absolutely nothing about Elon Musk other than he was rich, launched Satellites and was looking to purchase Twitter.

As this book is an unofficial story of his life, you can tell the author has done his research, but he freely admits he has had no input from Elon or his father, which I think he was hoping to do.

It did give me an insight to whom the man is and I now now a bit more about him. It would have been nice to read something that was more official but it was an interesting read anyway.

I would recommend this book if you want to know more about this man, where he grew up and what influenced his life to make him the man he is today.
Was this review helpful?
A must read!  Very insightful……. Often in the news for his entrepreneurial exploits and controversial tweets, Elon Musk is one of the richest and most well-known people on Earth. Who is this boundary-pushing billionaire with grand plans of inhabiting Mars, and what lies at the heart of his vision? Why is he so utterly unafraid of risk?

As an awkward South African schoolboy who loved comics and science fiction, Musk’s early years and singular family background were crucial in forming his stellar ambitions. Journalist and author Michael Vlismas, who attended the same high school as Musk, knows well the environment that shaped him and offers new insights into Musk’s development, including his troubled relationship with his father.

Tracing his remarkable life, from his Pretoria childhood to his move to Canada at 17 and then to the US – where Musk made millions out of PayPal and built Tesla and SpaceX into two of the world’s most famous companies – this is the story of a man driven to preserve the optimism he sees in humanity and find a future for humans ‘out there among the stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Was this review helpful?
Elon Musk is of great interest to people the world over, fan or not! Whilst the author did advise that this book was descriptive of Elon’s early life, I think the emphasis was more about South African politics. It may have been valuable to have reliable input from the Musk family?
When reading about someone’s life, I don’t  necessarily need a history lesson or family details that take over the subject.  
Elon Musk comes across as socially awkward with a difficult upbringing, he excelled at creating companies. 
I would have been invested more with information to provide an understanding of who Elon Musk is.  

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Whilst I have read many biographies, this is the first I have read on Elon Musk, and it doesn't disappoint.

It has the perfect mix of his early years, challenges and recent events that keep you interested.

There was a bit of 'padding', which keeps this book within the 4-star territory. However, that should not prevent you from enjoying this.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher Icon Books for an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

An interesting account of the enigma that is Elon Musk. An interesting read. Recommended.
Was this review helpful?
I am grateful to NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

This is a relatively short book of some 230 pages, which is perhaps insufficient for such a larger-than-life figure as Elon Musk. In the books conclusions, the author states it was never his intention to produce a comprehensive biography, but rather an overview of his life and how his roots may have shaped him.

I think the author has been partially successful in producing an overview of Musk’s life to date, up to and including the current Twitter kerfuffle. As to his roots shaping his life, I think the author has been less successful. Or at least, he has not proved his suggestion. I suspect Elon Musk may have become pretty much the same person we see today, regardless of his upbringing and family life in South Africa. 

In his research for the book, the author has been largely unsuccessful in getting much information or collaboration from anyone close to Musk. Family (apart from Musk’s unreliable father) , friends, competitors, business colleagues and Musk himself choose not to cooperator with the author. Much of the information presented or discussed is not new. It is from already published interviews with Musk himself, Musk associates and other forms of public record. The author provides references to these already published interviews and articles. 

The book begins with chapters on Musk’s parents & grandparents, their life in Canada, move to South Africa and how he came to be born there in 1976. A turbulent time but one that interestingly does not seem to dominate Musk’s early years. We hear of his education, school life, interest in science fiction and other topics. Clearly Musk was a remarkable young person, academically at least. Eccentric, ambitions and constantly seeking stimulation for his interests. He comes across as a loner, cerebral certainly but socially awkward and someone who has difficulty fitting in. 

His family life, from all accounts, including this book,  seems to have been difficult.  This cannot have helped the young Musk and his struggles early in life.  We are presented with various facts, speculation and conjecture regarding his time in South Africa. Musk’s father comes across as particularly unpleasant; a view held by most people in this book. Musk Senior contributed somewhat to this book, via emails with the author and also social media. Although it must be said that Musk’s father comes across as what might be called in legal terms an ‘unreliable witness’. 

We learn about the background to Elon Musk’s departure for Canada at the age of 17. At this point South Africa appears to completely disappear from his radar as he  pursues adult life, albeit while still a teenager. We heard of his university education, and move to the US where he ends up, where else but Silicon Valley. Musk seems more at ease and at home in this environment and we begin to see a philosophy of sorts developing. In brief, using business, invention and technology to make the world a better place for people. In short, ‘being useful’.

Fortune soon comes Musk’s way with his first successful company, a software venture called ZIP2. He moves on with his initial good fortune and finances to create, co-create or join forces with the companies we know so well today; Paypal, Tesla, Solar City, SpaceX and the Boring Company.  We learn of various aspects of these ventures. Tensions with partners, funding problems, arguments over direction of growth and so on. Musk comes across as someone skilled at creating a company with high-tech products and long-term vision. As it often the case, others are required to successfully continue growing and managing these companies as they become the high-value entities, at least based on market capitalism, we see today.

As well as covering Musk’s public business life, the book also covers his private life. We hear of his relationships and marriages. Children are born and divorces take place. Apart from the bare facts, we learn little, understand less and remain unenlightened about Musk’s private relationships and lifestyle choices. 

Chapters on each major business venture provide some interesting technical, economic and business discussions. Presented are successes, failures, funding difficulties, management & staff problems, milestones and so on. Musk’s interest in crypto currencies are discussed as is his use of and interest in Social Media. Musk’s view on Artificial Intelligence is presented. The reader is too often left wanting more information, more details, more discussion on rocket engines, battery technology, business cases, company management and so many other aspect’s of Musk’s multiple ventures. 

Musk has his naysayers of course and towards the end of the book, they have their say. Court cases are mentioned as are regulatory bodies and authorities. Accidents with products continue to occur and economic cases of business ventures are questioned. These sections of the book are particularly interesting as they challenge the popular myth of Musk as a gifted entrepreneur, visionary and salesman.  Other conclusions may be drawn regarding  Musk. But gifted engineer and saviour of the planet ? Time will tell. Musk has both zealous cult-like fans as well as educated, thoughtful and compelling critics. 

In closing, I enjoyed this book but was too often left wanting more. More detail, more evidence, more discussion, more explanations, more reliable information and sources. The author has produced a successful overview of Elon Musk’s business and private life. He also alludes to a potential authorised biography of Musk, thought to be in preparation. The Steve Job’s biographer, Walter Isaacson is said to be writing a book on Musk. It may be we have to wait for the definitive biography to be written on Elon Musk. In some ways a Churchillian character, possibly requiring multiple volumes of biography before we  know and better understand this person, his life and his his impact on the world.
Was this review helpful?
It's certainly well researched and will be of interest to hardcore Musk fans but the narrative is bit waffley.
Was this review helpful?
I know biographies are written by a third party but I would have hoped that Elon Musk would have had some input into this story.  A bit disappointed as some of this information is already out there for the public to read anyhow.  
Thank you Netgalley & Michael for an advanced copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
Very much a subjective biography of Musk, using pre-existing information available publicly combined with accounts of contextual history. A little more one-sided than I expected but possibly what others would enjoy.

Thanks NetGalley for the Arc.
Was this review helpful?
A biography of the richest man on the planet from Michael Vlismas. 
Elon had no input on this story which was a bit disappointing for me.  
Thank you Netgalley & Michael for an advanced copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
⬇️Elon Musk:Risking it All by Michael Vlismas ⬇️

Genre: Biography
Pub Date: 26/05/2022

▫️R E V I E W▫️

👍▫️ Michael Vlismas’ passion for this topic comes across immediatey when reading this exceptionally well written book. - Sorry, that’s my only compliment so don’t read further Mr Vlismas 🤪. 

👎▫️Vlismas compliments Musk A LOT. I’m not sure if he is hoping that one day Musk will allow him to write his authorised biography? But the compliments are a little sickly, throwing around the word genius like he is making royalties.

👎 This is well written BUT, it is full of padding and Vlismas himself would admit that. I imagine that after getting the green light to write this book from the publishing companies, Vlismas had hoped he would get help from Elon Musk or Errol Musk, but he got neither. So this book uses articles & Musk’s mothers book, with lots of padding about South African history. 

🤦‍♀️At one point the author writes about the experiences of black children in South Africa during the 70s. (I believe it’s too set the scene but i can’t be certain) he writes “he was certainly different to the vast majority of black children in the country”. I think the author comparing Elon Musk to racism in South Africa is WILD. I can’t believe people didn’t tell him to remove any comparisons at all. Who edited this book?

Rating: 🌟🌟/5
Was this review helpful?