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Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson review – pillock, genius, or both?

The tech mogul is portrayed as a brutal visionary with father issues in this comprehensive biography

The big question in the public mind about Elon Musk, as a London cabbie once put it to me, is whether he’s “a pillock or a genius”. The quick answer is that he’s both; a better answer is that there’s a lot of detail between those two extremes – so much so, in fact, that it takes Walter Isaacson 688 pages to cram it all in. But cram it in he does.

Isaacson is an experienced biographer, with lives of Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, Jennifer Doudna and Steve Jobs to his credit. With the benefit of hindsight, that last volume looks like a practice run for a life of Elon Musk, who, like Jobs, makes people wonder whether appalling personal behaviour can be separated from the relentless drive that has made him successful.

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