Biographies of Elon Musk and what distinguishes him

What drives Elon Musk?

Musk, the world’s richest man, has long been admired as the founder of electric car company Tesla and rocket maker SpaceX. But over the past few weeks, as he has been flirting with buying Twitter and then offering about $44 billion to the social influencer platform, all under blanket media coverage, his curiosity about what drives him has only grown.

Several biographies delve into his life and work thus far, including “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and Quest for a Fantastic Future” by Ashley Vance, which was published in 2015, and “Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and Bet” Century”, written by Tim Higgins, which was released last year.

Another book, Musk Announced last summer – On Twitter – Also in progress, this work by biographer Walter Isaacson, who has written bestselling books on Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Steve Jobs. Isaacson’s longtime publisher, Simon & Schuster, is planning to release the book, which does not yet have an exact publication date.

“I’ve always been interested in innovators and people who push boundaries, and he pushes the most important and difficult boundaries,” Isaacson said.

This week, after Twitter accepted Musk’s offer, Isaacson prepared for a reporting trip that includes traveling with Musk and visiting people from his past. Isaacson said he’s already interviewed about 200 people about Musk, and spent days talking to and covering him.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Isaacson spoke of the challenges of writing a biography of a character constantly evolving and expanding his empire: It’s like “trying to take notes while drinking from a fire hose,” he said.

This excerpt has been edited from the conversation.

When did you first approach Musk about a resume?

We started talking seven or eight months ago.

It wasn’t like I chased after him or he chased after me. We started talking about it, to see if it would make sense. I have no agreement with him, no contract, it was just, ‘Are you going to give me access?’ And he said, “I’ll do that,” and I said, “Yeah, I think I’ll do it.”

Ten minutes later he tweeted it.

What do you think makes Musk a fascinating and complex character, both for the audience and for you as a writer?

I’ve always been interested in innovators and people who push the boundaries, and it pushes the most important and difficult frontiers, which are electric cars, solar energy, sustainable energy, space travel, robotics and human computer neural interfaces.

Most of your previous books were about the lives of historical figures, and your biography of Jobs appeared posthumously, so the arc of their lives and the scope of their accomplishments is clear. But Musk is still making daily news. How does that change your approach as a biographer?

Dealing with his life is like trying to take notes while drinking from a fire hose. It keeps coming quickly.

I’m not quite sure how the story has developed yet. I will be driven by events. The good news is that I can let events drive the book, and I don’t have to impose an artificial deadline.

How do you shape the kind of chaos that musk creates into a coherent, long-form narrative?

It will definitely be a challenge. This thing is really a moving feast. But the main thing is just to make it a clear narrative, from a turbulent childhood in South Africa to becoming one of the most influential people on the planet.

What kind of access did you get? He hasn’t always been cooperative with reporters in the past.

He was very, very open, not only to him and the people around him, but he was very good at letting me reach out to people from his past. I have already interviewed about 200 different people, and have spent, I say, many days talking to him at length and shadowing him; I travel where he goes.

What do you think of the news of his acquisition of Twitter? Did a move seem in line with your understanding of his personality and ambitions?

He has always been fascinated by Twitter and deeply understands how it can be used and possibly how it can be improved. His fascination with Twitter does not surprise me.

If he continues to buy Twitter, it will greatly expand his business empire and sphere of influence. How does this news change the scope of your CV?

Adds a new subplot. The important thing is to tie them together in a narrative and show how these tasks fit together.

Musk is notorious for trolling, making explosive remarks, and reversing affidavits. How do you handle that in the form of a long narrative, knowing that his situations may look very different after publication?

I don’t think it is as random as it allows itself to appear. I think it was thought of much more than that.

Does the fact that he is constantly making news make it difficult or easier to write a book about him?

The good thing about Elon Musk is that everyone wants to talk about him and everyone has ideas about him.

What are the challenges and hurdles related to writing about a living versus a dead topic?

Well, it’s a much more exciting ride.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: