Space X rocket after launch

Elon Musk, by Walter Isaacson

An in depth look at Elon Musk, a high achieving, brilliant and somewhat eccentric entrepreneur.

Publisher:Cammeray, NSW : Simon & Schuster, 2023.
ISBN:978-1-982181-28-4
Characteristics:688 pages, Hardcover; 24 cm.
Source:Yarra Plenty Regional Library
Elon Musk, by Walter Isaacson, cover
Elon Musk, by Walter Isaacson, cover

Once again, Walter Isaacson has done a brilliant job documenting a larger than life personality.

With many chapters (listed below) Isaacson covers Musk’s life well, from his humble beginnings in South Africa where he deals with the tough South African neighbourhood he grows up in, having been beaten up a number of times, to him dominating whatever industry he enters. His father is a bit of a tough master, which no doubt helped shape Musk’s grit.

Like Steve Jobs, you get the impression that his main skill is seeing and driving through ideas, rather than having the same technical know how of those under him. He knows how to get the best out of people, often burning them out.

Musk made some highly lucrative deals in the earlier days of the IT boom, and he has used this wealth to rescue an electric carmaker, build rockets, and perhaps the most controversial of all, to buying and rejuvenating Twitter. And with each he has stamped his own brand by including the letter “X” in the business name. He loves “X” so much, even a child of his has the burden of “X” in their name.

A controversial issue for Tesla car drivers and stock owners are Musk’s promises that never come to fruition. He’s been teasing for years that self drive cars are “only a few years away”, and he’s been saying this for seven years now. My opinion is that there are too many variables too close to the vehicle to ever make self drive cars as safe as the average motorist can drive.

He’s a fascinating figure in history now, and it will be interesting to see what else he achieves. I think going to Mars, with SpaceX or any other way, will never happen due to the vast distances and expenses involved. People take for granted the huge achievement of NASA’s project of getting people on the moon, and Mars is more than 600 times the distance.

The book is a top read and with Isaacson’s meticulous interviewing and recording and expressing of details, the reader is not left wanting. The work is an excellent starter to getting to know Elon Musk.

Chapters

The plentiful and short chapters covering Musk’s life.

Prologue: Muse of fire

  1. Adventures
  2. A mind of his own: Pretoria, the 1970s
  3. Life with father: Pretoria, the 1980s
  4. The seeker: Pretoria, the 1980s
  5. Escape velocity: Leaving South Africa, 1989
  6. Canada: 1989
  7. Queen’s: Kingston, Ontario, 1990-1991
  8. Penn: Philadelphia, 1992-1994
  9. Go west: Silicon Valley, 1994-1995
  10. Zip2: Palo Alto, 1995-1999
  11. Justine: Palo Alto, the 1990s
  12. X.com: Palo Alto 1999-2000
  13. The coup: PayPal, September 2000
  14. Mars: SpaceX, 2001
  15. Rocket man: SpaceX, 2002
  16. Fathers and sons: Los Angeles, 2002
  17. Revving up: SpaceX, 2002
  18. Musk’s rules for rocket-building: SpaceX, 2002-2003
  19. Mr. Musk goes to Washington: SpaceX, 2002-2003
  20. Founders: Tesla, 2003-2004
  21. The roadster: Tesla, 2004-2006
  22. Kwaj: SpaceX, 2005-2006
  23. Two strikes: Kwaj, 2006-2007
  24. The SWAT team: Tesla, 2006-2008
  25. Taking the wheel: Tesla, 2007-2008
  26. Divorce: 2008
  27. Talulah: 2008
  28. Strike three: Kwaj, August 3, 2008
  29. On the brink: Tesla and SpaceX, 2008
  30. The fourth launch: Kwaj, August-September 2008
  31. Saving Tesla: December 2008
  32. The Model S: Tesla, 2009
  33. Private space: SpaceX, 2009-2010
  34. Falcon 9 liftoff: Cape Canaveral, 2010
  35. Marrying Talulah: September 2010
  36. Manufacturing: Tesla, 2010-2013
  37. Musk and Bezos: SpaceX, 2013-2014
  38. The falcon hears the falconer: SpaceX, 2014-2015
  39. The Talulah roller coaster: 2012-2015
  40. Artificial intelligence: OpenAI, 2012-2015
  41. The launch of autopilot: Tesla, 2014-2016
  42. Solar: Tesla energy, 2004-2016
  43. The Boring Company: 2016
  44. Rocky relationships: 2016-2017
  45. Descent into the dark: 2017
  46. Fremont factory hell: Tesla, 2018
  47. Open-loop warning: 2018
  48. Fallout: 2018
  49. Grimes: 2018
  50. Shanghai: Tesla, 2015-2019
  51. Cybertruck: Tesla, 2018-2019
  52. Starlink: SpaceX, 2015-2018
  53. Starship: SpaceX, 2018-2019
  54. Autonomy day: Tesla, April 2019
  55. Giga Texas: Tesla, 2020-2021
  56. Family life: 2020
  57. Full throttle: SpaceX, 2020
  58. Bezos vs. Musk, round 2: SpaceX, 2021
  59. Starship surge: SpaceX, July 2021
  60. Solar surge: summer 2021
  61. Nights out: summer, 2021
  62. Inspiration4: SpaceX, September 2021
  63. Raptor shake-up: SpaceX, 2021
  64. Optimus is born: Tesla, August 2021
  65. Neuralink: 2017-2020
  66. Vision only: Tesla, January 2021
  67. Money: 2021-2022
  68. Father of the year: 2021
  69. Politics: 2020-2022
  70. Ukraine: 2022
  71. Bill Gates: 2022
  72. Active investor: Twitter, January-April 2022
  73. “I made an offer”: Twitter, April 2022
  74. Hot and cold: Twitter, April-June 2022
  75. Father’s Day: June 2022
  76. Starbase shake-up: SpaceX, 2022
  77. Optiumus Prime: Tesla, 2021-2022
  78. Uncertainty: Twitter, July-September 2022
  79. Optimus unveiled: Tesla, September 2022
  80. Robotaxi: Tesla, 2022
  81. “Let that sink in”: Twitter, October 26-27, 2022
  82. The takeover: Twitter, Thursday, October 27, 2022
  83. The three musketeers: Twitter, October 26-30, 2022
  84. Content moderation: Twitter, October 27-30, 2022
  85. Halloween: Twitter, October 2022
  86. Blue checks: Twitter, November 2-10, 2022
  87. All in: Twitter, November 10-18, 2022
  88. Hardcore: Twitter, November 18-30, 2022
  89. Miracles: Neuralink, November 2022
  90. The Twitter files: Twitter, December 2022
  91. Rabbit holes: Twitter, December 2022
  92. Christmas capers: December 2022
  93. AI for cars: Tesla, 2022-2023
  94. AI for humans: X.AI, 2023
  95. The starship launch: SpaceX, April 2023.

Featured image: Photo by SpaceX

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply