Skip to Main Content

About The Book

From the author of Steve Jobs and other bestselling biographies, this is the astonishingly intimate story of the most fascinating and controversial innovator of our era—a rule-breaking visionary who helped to lead the world into the era of electric vehicles, private space exploration, and artificial intelligence. Oh, and took over Twitter.

Australian Financial Review Top 20 Read for 2023​

When Elon Musk was a kid in South Africa, he was regularly beaten by bullies. One day a group pushed him down some concrete steps and kicked him until his face was a swollen ball of flesh. He was in the hospital for a week. But the physical scars were minor compared to the emotional ones inflicted by his father, an engineer, rogue, and charismatic fantasist.

His father’s impact on his psyche would linger. He developed into a tough yet vulnerable man-child, prone to abrupt Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings, with an exceedingly high tolerance for risk, a craving for drama, an epic sense of mission, and a maniacal intensity that was callous and at times destructive.

At the beginning of 2022—after a year marked by SpaceX launching thirty-one rockets into orbit, Tesla selling a million cars, and him becoming the richest man on earth—Musk spoke ruefully about his compulsion to stir up dramas. “I need to shift my mindset away from being in crisis mode, which it has been for about fourteen years now, or arguably most of my life,” he said.

It was a wistful comment, not a New Year’s resolution. Even as he said it, he was secretly buying up shares of Twitter, the world’s ultimate playground. Over the years, whenever he was in a dark place, his mind went back to being bullied on the playground. Now he had the chance to own the playground.

For two years, Isaacson shadowed Musk, attended his meetings, walked his factories with him, and spent hours interviewing him, his family, friends, coworkers, and adversaries. The result is the revealing inside story, filled with amazing tales of triumphs and turmoil, that addresses the question: are the demons that drive Musk also what it takes to drive innovation and progress?

About The Author

No credit

Walter Isaacson is the bestselling author of biographies of Jennifer Doudna, Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein. He is a professor of history at Tulane and was CEO of the Aspen Institute, chair of CNN, and editor of Time. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2023. Visit him at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia (September 13, 2023)
  • Length: 688 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781761422614

Raves and Reviews

'One of the greatest biographers in America has written a massive book about the richest man in the world. This fast-paced biography, based on more than a hundred interviews ... [is] a head-spinning tale about a vain, brilliant, sometimes cruel figure whose ambitions are actively shaping the future of human life.'

Ron Charles on CBS Sunday Morning

'[The book] has everything you'd expect from a book on Musk – stories of tragedy, triumph, and turmoil ... the stories are fascinating and guaranteed to spark a mountain of coverage'

Inc. magazine

‘Its portrait of the tech maverick is fascinating. . . Isaacson’s account of rolling crises over rocket engines and car designs are vivid and pacy, and his analysis of his subject’s personality is a persuasive mixture of alarm and deep admiration'

Daily Telegraph

‘An exploration of the tech billionaire’s epic feats. . . [Isaacson] has done something amazing with the Musk biography which is to write a 688-page quick read’

Financial Times

‘It is undoubtedly [Isaacson’s] most intimate [book] of the lot. . . Whatever you think of Mr Musk, he is a man worth understanding – which makes this a book worth reading’

The Economist

‘A penetrating new biography’

Daily Mail

‘With Elon Musk, Walter Isaacson offers both an engaging chronicle of his subject’s busy life so far and some compelling answers’

Wall Street Journal

‘For two years, Isaacson shadowed the Tesla and SpaceX founder’s day-to-day life. He spent hours interviewing Musk, as well as his family, friends, coworkers, and adversaries, in hopes of understanding how the South African boy who was bullied by his classmates became one of the world’s greatest tech disruptors. . . [The book] promises to be the most complete profile of Musk yet’

Time magazine

‘Isaacson takes on subjects with enormous ambitions and egos to match (Steve Jobs, Henry Kissinger, Leonardo da Vinci) . . . There’s not much middle ground on Musk – people love him or hate him – but Isaacson is best positioned to figure out what makes him tick’

Los Angeles Times

‘The best-selling author of Steve Jobs returns with a biography of the richest man on earth. Isaacson spent two years shadowing Musk, the head of X (formerly Twitter), Tesla and SpaceX, and interviewing both his friends and foes. The resulting book delves deep into the billionaire’s demons, including childhood bullies and a difficult father, and interrogates their relationship to his success’

New York Times

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Walter Isaacson