Ashlee Vance Elon Musk

Last updated date: June 20, 2019

DWYM Score
9.6

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We looked at the top 1 Autobiography and dug through the reviews from 6 of the most popular review sites including Good Reads, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Space Flight Insider, Clean Technica, Hook Agency and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Autobiography you should buy.

Overall Take

Ashlee Vance's "Elon Musk" takes an in-depth look at the man behind some of the most interesting innovations of our time. Vance was given exclusive access to Musk, his friends and family members. You'll also get 16 pages of color photos to enhance your reading. In our analysis of 60 expert reviews, the Ashlee Vance Ashlee Vance Elon Musk placed 4th when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note July 2, 2019:
Checkout The Best Autobiography Book for a detailed review of all the top autobiography.

Expert Summarized Score
9.7
6 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.4
2,814 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
More than any other entrepreneur today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as the visionaries of the golden age of science-fiction fantasy
- Good Reads
Despite Vance’s best efforts, Musk comes off as another megalomaniacal hypercapitalist whose stock in trade is luxury goods and services for luxury clients.
- Kirkus Reviews
Vance elucidates Musk’s unusual combination of vision, determination, intelligence, whimsy, and ruthlessness that enabled these successes.
- Publishers Weekly
One of the benefits for those buying this book are the sixteen pages of glossy, color photos. A few of which have never been seen before, which were provided by Maye Musk, Elon’s mother.
- Space Flight Insider
February 21, 2016 | Full review
Musk may sometimes be insensitive to the needs of individuals, but his entire adult life is absorbed with steering mankind as a whole to a better place. So he breaks even at least.
- Clean Technica
His determination to succeed + pig-headedness in regards to details + his voracious appetite to learn deeply in not only theory, but in more engineering type subjects has gotten him into a unique situation where he can innovate in many different spheres at once.
- Hook Agency
February 13, 2017 | Full review
What experts didn't like
The book is a good read. However, while Vance provides new information gained from hundreds of interviews, “Elon Musk” seems to jump around a bit. It’s definitely not your typical biography.
- Space Flight Insider
February 21, 2016 | Full review

From The Manufacturer

There are few industrialists in history who could match Elon Musk's relentless drive and ingenious vision. A modern alloy of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs, Musk is the man behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and SolarCity, each of which has sent shock waves throughout American business and industry. More than any other executive today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as a science fiction fantasy. In this lively, investigative account, veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance offers an unprecedented look into the remarkable life and times of Silicon Valley's most audacious businessman. Written with exclusive access to Musk, his family, and his friends, the book traces his journey from his difficult upbringing in South Africa to his ascent to the pinnacle of the global business world. Vance spent more than fifty hours in conversation with Musk and inter- viewed close to three hundred people to tell the tumultuous stories of Musk's world-changing companies and to paint a portrait of a complex man who has renewed American industry and sparked new levels of innovation--all while making plenty of enemies along the way. In 1992, Elon Musk arrived in the United States as a ferociously driven immigrant bent on realizing his wildest dreams. Since then, Musk's roller-coaster life has brought him grave disappointments alongside massive successes. After being forced out of PayPal, fending off a life-threatening case of malaria, and dealing with the death of his infant son, Musk abandoned Silicon Valley for Los Angeles. He spent the next few years baffling his friends by blowing his entire fortune on rocket ships and electric cars. Cut to 2012, however, and Musk had mounted one of the greatest resurrections in business history: Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity had enjoyed unparalleled success, and Musk's net worth soared to more than $5 billion.

Overall Product Rankings

1. Trevor Noah Born a Crime
Overall Score: 9.9
Expert Reviews: 7
2. Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom
Overall Score: 9.8
Expert Reviews: 5
3. Paramhansa Yogananda Autobiography of a Yogi
Overall Score: 9.6
Expert Reviews: 7
4. Ashlee Vance Elon Musk
Overall Score: 9.6
Expert Reviews: 6
5. Malcolm X / Alex Haley The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Overall Score: 9.5
Expert Reviews: 7
7. Eric Clapton Clapton: The Autobiography
Overall Score: 9.4
Expert Reviews: 3
8. Sally Field In Pieces
Overall Score: 9.4
Expert Reviews: 4
9. Willie Nelson / David Ritz It’s a Long Story: My Life
Overall Score: 9.1
Expert Reviews: 7
10. Andre Agassi Open: An Autobiography
Overall Score: 8.6
Expert Reviews: 6

An Overview On Autobiography

  • Your choice of autobiography starts with the subject itself. If you’re interested in learning more about the person, you’ll be more likely to pick up that book. Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime” is written by the biracial host of “The Daily Show,” who spent his childhood hidden away in South Africa due to apartheid. Noah is at heart a comedian, and his wit adds levity to what would otherwise be a somber tale.
  • Also providing a personal look at life in South Africa is Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom,” which was used as the basis for the 2013 movie starring Idris Elba. Mandela spent 27 years imprisoned due to apartheid and became an internationally-renowned political leader upon his release. In his book, he continues to inspire by presenting his story positively, never showing signs of self-pity or bitterness.
  • Passionate yoga practitioners will be familiar with Paramhansa Yogananda, the first yoga master of India. Paramhansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” is a reprint of the 1946 autobiography, complete with bonus material, including a final chapter written by Yogananda in 1951. If you want all the material from the 1946 edition, this is the only currently published version that has it.
  • You’re probably drawn to Ashlee Vance’s “Elon Musk” for the same reasons many people are. Considered one of the greatest minds of our time, Musk consistently fascinates experts in his field, as well as the public. This biography is written by Vance, an award-winning feature writer for “Bloomberg Businessweek,” based on interviews with Musk himself. While writing the book, Vance was granted exclusive access to Musk, as well as his family and friends. You’ll find this book doesn’t follow the typical structure of a biography, jumping around more than usual.
  • If you’re reading an autobiography to go beyond learning more about the subject, you’ll have plenty of reasons to take a closer look at Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime,” which provides an up close and personal look at African history and culture. While you’re reading Noah’s story, you also get a deep exploration into a variety of social issues, including racism, religion, gender roles and abusive relationships.  Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom” will also offer a view of apartheid-era South Africa from an insider’s perspective. But the book actually provides a look at how Mandela was shaped into the leader he later became. Yoga practitioners aren’t the only ones who will be intrigued by Paramhansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi.” Its underlying messages on religion and spirituality can inspire anyone who is looking for deeper meaning. Although Ashlee Vance’s “Elon Musk” truly is an in-depth profile of the subject himself, Vance offers a view of Musk that brings comparisons to legends like Thomas Edison and Howard Hughes.
  • For those who want an autobiography that revolves entirely around the subject itself, Ashlee Vance’s “Elon Musk” won’t disappoint. Unlike other biographies, this one focuses solely on the person it’s about, complete with 16 full pages of color photos. If you want to know what makes the man tick, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for in this book. Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom” is another one that puts its subject front and center, with an in-depth look at Mandela’s youth, as well as his life after prison. If you’re reading to learn more about his 27 years in captivity, though, you’ll be disappointed, as very little of the book details that part of his life.
  • Today’s readers consume content in a variety of ways. Although all four books are available in print, only Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime,” “Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom” and Ashlee Vance’s “Elon Musk” can be downloaded in audiobook form. You can get Paramhansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” for Kindle, though, as well as the other three books.

DYWM Fun Fact

Autobiographies often profile public personas, but very few of those famous people are professional writers. For that reason, many celebrities bring in ghostwriters to help turn their words into page-turners. Ghostwriters usually spend hours interviewing these people, but they go deeper than simply regurgitating what their subjects say. They observe speech patterns, humor styles and the overall “voice” of the person they’re profiling in order to make the book sound as though that person was personally behind every word. Famous people who have acknowledged using ghostwriters for their autobiographies include Gwyneth Paltrow, Donald Trump, John F. Kennedy, Leah Remini and Laura Bush.

The Autobiography Buying Guide

Autobiographies and biographies are both different from other types of books. The subject matter itself is typically the top draw, with some non-readers choosing to read one simply because they’re interested in the person it covers. If you’re looking at a list of the latest autobiographies, though, you’ll probably narrow your choices to familiar names, then choose the person that interests you most.

But before you buy, it’s important to look a little deeper. Even the most interesting subject can make for a dull autobiography, particularly if the subject isn’t willing to open up. A rambling narrative that never quite ventures beneath the surface makes for a dull read. In addition to an interesting subject, you also want a book that compels you to turn the page.

Sometimes a good autobiography isn’t as much about the subject as the experiences that person has had. You may find you learn about a place or a time in history by reading about a certain person, for instance. Seeing events through the eyes of someone experiencing them can be much more powerful than reading about those same events in history books.

Even more common, though, is the inspiration a person can get from these personal stories. The person profiled doesn’t even have to be on the same type of path as you. You can apply their stories of overcoming obstacles and reaching their goals to your own journey. If you’re looking for an autobiography to inspire you, there’s no shortage. It’s just a matter of choosing which journey is most likely to draw you in.

With all of that in mind, though, it still comes down to the writing. Whether an autobiography is written by the author or a ghostwriter, the spirit of the subject shines through. A well-written autobiography will make you feel as though you’re seated across the table from the subject, hearing that person’s story over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.