Vance slims down his 2015 portrait of an entrepreneur who has made and spent several eye-watering fortunes on the way to restarting our country’s space program and possibly revolutionizing the auto industry.
In Vance’s view, Musk, afflicted with that vision thing, has always had his eyes on the prize—not of making bazillions but of providing humanity with the means to move beyond our confinement on a single, fragile planet. He has made bazillions nonetheless. Noting the big payoffs as well as his propensity to follow up compelling promises with scandalously late delivery dates, Vance takes readers through his booms and busts with several enterprises—notably PayPal, Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and what has the potential to shape up to be his grandest triumph of all, SpaceX. Along with views of youth and early geekdom (“It’s remarkable how many things you can get to explode,” Musk recalls), he relates suspenseful accounts of technical and financial crises, conducts tours of Musk’s factories (which are, pointedly, all in the U.S.), and brings his story up to early 2016. Overall, the author offers a picture of a brilliant, driven man: “He almost hypnotizes you,” says an associate. “He gives you the crazy eye, and it’s like, yes, we can get to Mars.” Illustrated with small, rare, dispensable photos.
A modern American success story, neither overly earnest nor unreservedly adulatory. (timeline) (Biography. 11-14)