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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.
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?
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 Isaacson.Tulane.edu.
Photo credit: SimonandSchuster.com
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Exclusive to Prologue members & their guests:
- We will meet with Walter Isaacson at 4-4:50pm, downstairs, at The Hub at Temple Beth Am, for a cocktail reception
- While there, autographed books will be distributed
- During the 5-6pm public reception and author presentation, upstairs, we will have reserved seating
- All Prologue members and their guests must pre-register and pre-pay for this event -- we will be unable to accommodate walk-in attendees
- Plan to arrive early for vehicle/occupant check-in at Temple Beth Am's guard booth (photo I.D. and vehicle tag may be recorded)
- Carpool / ride-share is recommended and encouraged!
There is an elevator in The Hub.
- Guests: Non-members are welcome to attend one event per season. Members may bring with them an unlimited number of non-member guests, as long as the guests, individually, abide by the above Non-member Guest policy.
- Registration: Pre-registration is required.
- Payment: Pre-payment is required.
- Cancellation Policy: Refunds will not be allowed for cancellations received after registration closes, and no-shows.
- Registration will close on Thursday, October 19 (or when it sells out).