Like most of the super-rich, Elon Musk has one eye on his legacy, keen to shape how his huge fortune is perceived now and in the future. This perhaps explains why he recently shared the fact that Walter Isaacson, biographer of Steve Jobs, is writing a book about him.
“If you’re curious about Tesla, SpaceX & my general goings on, @WalterIsaacson is writing a biography,” tweeted Musk.
He added in subsequent tweets that Isaacson has shadowed Musk “for several days so far,” and that he “particularly liked” Isaacson’s biography of US founding father Benjamin Franklin. He also repeated that he will “maybe one day” write his own autobiography.
There have been a number books written about Musk’s life and his career, including a 2015 biography, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, by Ashlee Vance. The book, which Musk contributed several interviews to, was well received by reviewers. The Financial Times called it “a riveting portrait of Silicon Valley’s most driven entrepreneur [...] personal flaws and all,” while The New York Times offered similar praise, though noted that the work occasionally veered “toward hagiography and the diction of news releases.”
Musk has been less happy with other books written about him, though, including Tim Higgins’ recent Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century, which was published earlier this month.
A review from The LA Times says Higgins’ book “takes the shine off” Musk, showing him to be “a hair trigger of an executive who’s quick to fire people whether they deserve it or not.” The book has generated numerous news stories, including a particularly wild tale that Musk demanded to be made CEO of Apple after the iPhone-maker approached Tesla about an acquisition. Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook have both denied that this ever happened.
With Isaacson, though, Musk will likely know what to expect. Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs was written with “unprecedented” access to the Apple founder and praised for its detail, readability, and emotional insight. But, as we noted in our own review from Laura June in 2011, the biography is also “in some respects [...] a book told through the often discussed ‘reality distortion field’ of Steve Jobs himself.”
“[T]hough other opinions or sides to a story are presented, Steve always has the last, blunt word,” says June of Isaacson’s biography. That sounds like something Musk would like, too.