• Elon Musk

  • By: Ashlee Vance
  • Narrated by: Fred Sanders
  • Length: 13 hrs and 23 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (1,081 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

South African-born Elon Musk is the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity. Musk wants to save our planet; he wants to send citizens into space, to form a colony on Mars; he wants to make money while doing these things; and he wants us all to know about it.

He is the real-life inspiration for the Iron Man series of films starring Robert Downey, Jr. The personal tale of Musk's life comes with all the trappings one associates with a great, drama-filled story. He was a freakishly bright kid who was bullied brutally at school and abused by his father. In the midst of these rough conditions and the violence of apartheid South Africa, Musk still thrived academically and attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he paid his own way through school by turning his house into a club and throwing massive parties.

He started a pair of huge dot-com successes, including PayPal, which eBay acquired for $1.5 billion in 2002. Musk was forced out as CEO and so began his lost years, in which he decided to go it alone and baffled friends by investing his fortune in rockets and electric cars. Meanwhile Musk's marriage disintegrated as his technological obsessions took over his life...

Elon Musk is the Steve Jobs of the present and the future, and for the past 12 months he has been shadowed by tech reporter Ashlee Vance. Elon Musk is an important, exciting and intelligent account of the real-life Iron Man.

©2015 Ashlee Vance (P)2016 Random House Audiobooks

What listeners say about Elon Musk

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Fascinating insight

This is an excellent audio book onto the insights of Elon Musk. In particular the first half provides a brilliant view of his background, his leadership style and the type of personality that drives such an interesting person.

I did find the second half of the book a bit too much about the industry of space exploration, electric cars and solar power. This meant you were losing the insights into the person, and it became a more technical book on the industry.

Overall a great read but perhaps this should have been 2 books - one about the person and one about the industries.

9 people found this helpful

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Fascinating

I found Elon's story really fascinating but I would have liked to hear more from Elon himself.

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Very inspiring!

when you listen to this book, you know your dream of changing the world can be achieved

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Proudly South African

Great story and very inspiring. Elon has a brilliant mind and makes me proud to be a South African.

Would highly recommend this book.

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Excellent Book

Loved the book and the narrator was really good. Easy to listen to. Put the book on everyday while working.

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It's Average

Just want to mention this : This is the story of how , why, when Elon's companies went up down left right. This is not a Biography. This is log book of Elon's life. If you want to read a real biography, read Steve Jobs by Walter Issacsson. Where you can see what Steve was thinking, what was his mindset for all what was going on.

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Really enjoyable

A great insight into Elon Musk. It nearly convinced me to buy a Tesla. It’s great that the author writes he could be the richest man in the world by 2025 which he is already 🚀

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HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Love it!
The only thing wrong with this book, is that Elon isn't narrating. But due to his busy schedule (as explained in the book), we fully understand. 😅

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Great insight into Musk

A great and gripping book about a fascinating modern figure. Already it's kind of dated though and so much more could be added. But a great intro to all Musk's exploits. Really enjoyable, but I could've done without the narrator's voices/accents!

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Excellent!

Well written & narrated. The author also gave an amazing account of & insight into the life of Elon Musk.

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  • Andrew
  • 01-15-17

Fascinating insight but a little repetitive

Well written book with a good relatively independent view of the history of Musks companies. Issue is repetitive nature of second half of the book- lots of the same principles come up time and again without really developing much further insight into the direction or the individual.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Arvin Seeva
  • 12-26-16

An eye opening insight into the future.

A recommended biography of a person that sounds like a slave driver, but driven by passion for a better future and humanity.

11 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 12-20-16

The power of personality

If you could sum up Elon Musk in three words, what would they be?

insightful, enjoyable, entertaining

What did you like best about this story?

Musk is just a balls out force of will.

What about Fred Sanders’s performance did you like?

He is a solid performer and made the autobiography experience enjoyable.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No

10 people found this helpful

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  • Robert
  • 12-13-16

Too much rambling

There are very good parts in this book about Elon Musk's career but there is a lot of filler by talking about how his companies do better than the competition by doing this or other design choices. Most of them are subjective opinions of the author or the people interviewed and are not measurable facts. Also all of his childhood living with his father is missing yet they keep alluding to it later on as a key point in his life. I feel I learned something from Elon as an entrepeneur in spite of the filler of this book though so not all was lost.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Wras
  • 04-30-16

Building the impossible

From terraforming to car sales

I have been following Elon Musk and some of his projects for a few years, Spacex is one that I follow with most interest because of the implications for space travel and that renewed sense of the excitement we had when we were going to the moon. I am of a generation that read science fiction and wanted that technology, that utopian belief that we were here to improve the world, to do amazing things but little by little, a revolution here a war there, a wall of bureaucracy here and several dreams squashed my generation and me became the old generation the passers of a poisoned chalice to the new generation or so we are made to believe by the cynics and the conspiracy theorist that want the world to be as low as the lowest common denominator.

Yes we are in trouble, but mostly because a lot of those futuristic dreams came true and we being human did not foresee the knock on effect of their success. Now the next part will be counter intuitive to many but give me a minute; we are living in the golden age of humanity more people have food than ever before, more people are educated than ever before, more workin medicines exist and are used than ever before and here is the one that many will dispute we live in the most peaceful time in history (this is looking at the world after the Second World War) and because of all this positive things we have overpopulation and ecological problems that are hard to fix.

Here walks in Elon Musk with dreams that are the continuation of that dream of a better world except he wants it to be several better worlds, a spacefaring humanity and ecological mature culture that strive towards solving the problems of fossil fuels by utilizing and creating infrastructures to use nature's power for the world and our benefit as a species.

If you are interested in any of that, this book will invigorate you with the sheer arrogance and vision of this one man and the things he has achieved are absolutely herculean in scope while risking it all for a belief in humanity.

Most innovators and smart people in this world are not building the future but betting on sales skims that do not create anything or just expanding on entertainment for sale. Only a few are pushing for true innovation, visionary dreams that only children dare to have and creating a new future that is not just about money but a vision that believes we could do better; we could be gardeners instead of a plague on our world.

A fast paced and interesting view of the technology business world, with a very american cheerleader histrionics and to many awesomes for my taste and phrases like “The optics of the situation “ are used instead of one word, but all this I can forgive because the bulk of the book is very well presented and explains a lot of what is going on in industries that are for the most part very secretive.
Is it a bit to positive? Yes, but don't you need a bit of positivity and hope in your life?
Is it impartial? I doubt it, but it gives a fairly vast picture of what this man is about, after all perhaps he has a few more year to go and I hope he continues to develop his dream, just because he has one.
A book that invigorated me and I enjoyed cover to cover; plus ultra, plus ultra.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Beshr
  • 12-03-16

Well-rounded great book

Really deserves all 5 stars. Most importantly is the fact that a lot of lessons can be distilled from this book, which is much more important than "performance" or "story". Highly recommended.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Ahmed K
  • 01-17-17

Extremely interesting and eye opening biography!

Thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. Gets really deep into what makes Musk and his companies what they are now. More than just a way to learn more about Musk, it shows some of what's necessary to accomplish such successes.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Patrick
  • 07-03-16

Ashlee Vance is unable to write balanced accounts

Written by a fanboy for fanboys. While there was massive merit to it, Vances input was highly unnecessary and he could have at least feigned objectivity and balance but didn't, this became quite grating.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Phillip
  • 05-14-16

Phenomenal read from start to finish.

Ashlee Vance did an AMAZING job writing this book. Fred Sanders narrates it extremely well. It's so inspirational, everyone should listen to Elon's amazing story. I cannot wait to see what other extraordinary inventions he comes up with in the years to come.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Jkay
  • 11-13-16

Great insight into a great mind and leader

Brilliantly structured book on the mind of a genius. Entertaining story on the creation of some of the most innovative and life changing companies on the planet.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 06-17-16

An underwhelming narrative of a really cool guy

This book is a bit of a let-down. You will learn a bit about Elon and his companies, but it will sap 13 hours of your life away and you won't be a better person for it.

You'd think there's so much you can learn from Elon Musk, but this author didn't really make much effort to gather any nuggets of insightful information, just snippets of hearsay from sources that have worked around Elon. Listening to the book feels kind of perverted because it's written in a way where the author digs up lots of dirt on him the way a trash magazine reports on the secret lives of celebrities.

The Author even gloats mildly about his tenacity in pestering Musk until he agreed to let him write the book.

Don't bother listening to this one.

72 people found this helpful

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  • Mikhail
  • 06-17-16

Fascinating story of an exceptional man

Things I liked:

1. Elon Musk's story is nothing like you have ever heard, even if you have studied the greatest men and women to grace this planet.

2. His big picture thinking and pursuit of ideals, never backing down until those ideals are achieved is grandiose.

3. The idea that a man like this is alive at this present moment gives me the extra motivation to work hard on my purpose and perhaps come across Elon one day.

4. Both the writing by Ashlee Vance and reading by Fred Sanders is fantastic. The story flows very well and I will undoubtedly be listening to this again.

Things I disliked:

1. I wish there was more.

24 people found this helpful

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  • MKG
  • 05-07-16

Best Biography Ever!

Simply the most impressive and exciting true story about a person's life that I've ever known.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Rufus Keown
  • 05-31-17

A really good read (listen)

Really enjoyed musks story of obsession and his drive to make the world a better place. Highly recommended for those who believe in a bright future.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 05-21-16

Loved it

Great story well told, if slightly biased towards the end. He is an amazing and terrifying man.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-31-17

Changing force

Musk has ambitions that are so magnetic that it makes you want to change the world too.
He really is shaping the future, Ashlee Vance does an outstanding job presenting this.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Brian
  • 07-11-16

Brilliant book

An amazing story of a truly remarkable and resilient man. Vance captures Musk's personality, both good and bad points, and digs deep into his success and failures.

Very well narrated.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Thomas
  • 08-05-19

Great book

Couldn’t put this book down, Elon is a super interesting bloke. Made my top 15 list

2 people found this helpful

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  • benedict
  • 05-20-16

such an amazing story.

Extreme management and perseverance to achieve what he does, inevitably burning people on the way. His arrogance and dictator style leadership means he achieves the impossible. Lucky he has an underlying altruistic vision of solutions for humananity which drives him.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Julian Rich
  • 07-22-20

Amazing person

I love this guys vision. If one thing is for sure, it is we need more visionaries like him.

1 person found this helpful