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The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  2,874 ratings  ·  304 reviews
The historic quest to rekindle the human exploration and colonization of space led by two rivals and their vast fortunes, egos, and visions of space as the next entrepreneurial frontier

The Space Barons is the story of a group of billionaire entrepreneurs who are pouring their fortunes into the epic resurrection of the American space program. Nearly a half-century after Ne
Kindle Edition, 321 pages
Published March 20th 2018 by PublicAffairs
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JG (Introverted Reader)
3.5 stars rounded up.

This was fascinating, but I'm not sure why it's called Space Baron*S*. The author came across as a huge fan of Elon Musk; I would guess at least 80% of the book is about Musk and SpaceX. That could be because SpaceX seems to be the company that's really speeding forward, or maybe because Bezos and BlueOrigin are very secretive. It could also be because Bezos owns the Washington Post, where the author works. He might be trying so hard to be balanced and fair in his reporting
Mario the lone bookwolf
After decades of state delays, the visionaries are turning to Mars cities and asteroid mining.

Please note that I have put the original German text to the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

Science fiction, especially space operas, hard science fiction, and the classic series, have dealt with the issue in a vast variety of ways. Which variants will prevail in which time frame is the exciting question. Where, in principle, it is more likely that the cultural and ideological barrie
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
While I love everything that has to do with space era (which, sadly, isn't anywhere in the observable future, since something went wrong at some point, somewhere), business, innovation, new tech, daring business undertakings, etc etc... But, somehow, this book, even though it's supposed to combine all of this, didn't click with me.

Instead, I felt like I was reading a monstrously overblown article from some newspaper. Some ingredients were missing. I do appreciate that the facts were all right-i
Dee Arr
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The full title of this book, The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos, emphasizes the battle between two of the main figures in the book. While I understand the name-dropping can potentially help in selling more copies, I feel it is important to mention others featured in the book: Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founder), Burt Rutan (not a “Baron,” but important for his role), and Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Group).

I chose to read this book because of my previous i
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars for this book. This is a very interesting read if you are into space exploration and the advances the private industry is doing towards the goal of sending humans to mars soon. The book focuses on big names like Jeff Bezos and Elon musk and 2 other billionaires and the work their companies are doing , the book gets repetitive at times and doesn’t really have anything new after the first 100 pages but like I stated before if you are into space and eccentric billionaires then this is the ...more
Nikki "The Crazie Betty" V.
I requested this book from Netgalley for a few different reasons. The number one reason being that I’m slightly obsessed with humanity’s scientific journey to attempt to get us in to space. My husband has heard me say more than once that, given the opportunity, I would gladly upend my life and go live on Mars to assist in terraforming. I’ve just always been interested in space, and space exploration and ultimately am a little resentful of the fact that I will most likely never get to see what’s ...more
May 31, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An over-hyped, biased reportage
The business of space, shown mostly in the exploits of three billionaires, Elon Musk, of SpaceX, Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin, and Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic. A comprehensive treatment by the author of the commercial spaceflight revolution, more focused on the characters and personalities of the major players than the technology. If you are a fan of privatization, this book will be of great interest, but to me it is sounding a bit over-hyped. The narrative is
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Over the last decade I’ve occasionally seen news items relating to Space X or Virgin Galactic, but hadn’t paid them too much attention. I’m more engaged with the subject now, having read this remarkable story of how a group of billionaire business rivals - each working separately – created start-up space technology companies that have added a new dimension to the space industry. The book predominantly features the pugnacious Elon Musk, the flamboyant Richard Branson, and quiet man Jeff Bezos. Mi ...more
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Space Barons failed to capture my interest in the long run. The initial chapters about Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos weren't well organized, but they had enough interesting bits that I kept coming back to the book. When Burt Rutan's story was introduced, however, the author lost me.
Mr. Davenport followed the same patten too many times: tell a bit of a story, introduce a new character, swing back in time to fill in some history of the character, then proceed in the main story on to the next character
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent narrative, both the broader context and reporting of key events.
Anoop Dixith
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was truly the most investigative of all non-fictions I've read this year. The amount of research that has gone into the writing of the historical quirks, chronologies, and stories embedded in this book is enormous. I picked up this book because I was getting more and more interested as well inspired by private space entrepreneurship - including space tourism, reusable rockets, cargo logistics, economically cheaper private contracts, extraterrestrial mining, satellites, and of course, t ...more
3.5 stars. Despite what the subtitle suggests, Davenport's book focuses on four billionaires -- Musk, Bezos, Paul Allen, and Richard Branson -- and plays off of two parables -- the tortoise and the hare and David and Goliath -- to explain how their efforts to commercialize space has(n't) worked out.

The Goliath of the space industry is the revolving door between the Pentagon, NASA, and the dominate industry players, Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Musk sued the Department of Defense and NASA several
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great overview and current summary of one of the most interesting engineering and business achievements going on right now — the new space race, in particular Elon Musk and SpaceX as well as Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin, Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic, and some earlier (Beal) and more ancillary companies. In the 1990s if I’d thought space would someday be something other than NASA dead end shuttle bullshit, I probably would have gone into aerospace rather than computing and computer security. ...more
Scottsdale Public Library
As a kid, did you ever say to yourself, “Someday, I’m going to Mars.” Well, hello, we’re almost there and it’s not on the public’s dime as people used to complain about, it’s on Elon Musk’s many dimes and Jeff Bezo’s and other future-thinking minds. “The Space Barons…” should wake all of us up and get us all back on track to not only thinking about what we could do if something serious did happen to our planet Earth, but to doing something about it now. Musk and Bezo as children made for interes ...more
Tasos Manouras
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book Chronicles the "race to space". It is a book written in a news article fashion. Fun to read, fast paced and well researched.

I would like it more if there was more of the Vision, of the 3 barons-protagonists of the book, but unfortunately the writer only shares parts of interviews, tweets and events that took place.
Dec 09, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am deeply impressed with the author's ability to write a book while also slobbering over the cocks of three billionaires at the same time. I aspire to have this level of multi-tasking ability someday!

Seriously though, this is some of the fluffiest and most inane piece of "journalism" I've ever read. I picked up this book hoping for an educational look at the nature of the space industry, its political economy, the technical challenges of building spacecrafts, etc. The book has a thin layer of
Chris Via
Nov 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, arc, science
The latest iPhone is great, but the real buzz in science and technology is the plight to colonize Mars. Perhaps still too far-fetched for some, the race to be the first commercial shuttle between Earth and Mars is a very real and burgeoning enterprise, with unthinkable funds being expended (and sometimes exploded) along the way. Recent movies and books such as Interstellar (2014), The Martian (2011; 2014), and The Terranauts (2016) have begun to imbue collective popular consciousness with the ra ...more
Francis Tapon
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My wife is from Cameroon so she thrilled that the first creature that America sent into orbit was from Cameroon.

The creature was named Enos. He was a chimp from Cameroon. He flew aboard the Mercury-Atlas 5 on November 29, 1961. Enos logged three hours and 21 minutes in space. He paved the way for the first American orbital flight just three months later.

I’m a fan of space exploration and astronomy. I’m a even bigger fan of the privatization of spaceflight so I’ve been following the news fairly c
Mal Warwick
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Not long ago, I reviewed Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance, and The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone. Both books are well done. They're the product of professional journalists who are good at what they do. But neither book comes close to Christian Davenport's superb new book, The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos, in offering insight into the personality of these two extraordinary ...more
Gary Moreau
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a thorough and professional review of the current state of space flight in the US. As the cover promises, it’s a tale filled with the current rock stars of capitalism: Musk, Bezos, Branson, et al. And a few names that have made history but aren’t quite as familiar: Burt Rutan, Mike Melvill, and a host of others.

It’s a book of tales, not technology, and that’s great for most readers. And the stories and subplots are magnificent and glorious; just what you’d expect from men who have a
Anna Shelby ☕
The Space Barons tells the stories of the four billionaires - Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Paul Allen.
The companies profiled have set huge milestones as privateers in space industry. Davenport chronicles the tumult of the beginnings of Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, SpaceX and Mojave Aerospace Venture. The first liftoffs, explosions, failures and plain daring stubbornness of the mentioned, to advance in the field of space flights.
Additional to interviews, following books influence
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good book, providing an overview of the commercial space industry and the wealthy, visionary individuals who are its prime drivers. The author, journalist Christian Davenport, covers many layers. These include the differences between commercial enterprises and government projects along with the correlation of rushed development with high risk. In the process he manages to tell not just about the steady commercialization of space access but also looks at the role of dedicated and wealthy entrep ...more
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Space barons is a good compiling of the separate space ventures and companies currently in the business. It has a narrow focus, which is wise. I have not yet tired of hearing of spacex’s success, ingenuity, can do spirit or Elon musk’s biting charm and brazenness. Davenport’s approach fills in the gaps for me on what is going on in the different companies and how they came to be.
I can’t imagine this is a satisfying read for someone who is already up to speed on the industry and excited about its
Sandeep Tammu
This is a disappointing book. Honestly, the book felt like it was rushed to publication. It doesn't have enough insights to warrant a special book. Tesla, Virgin Galactic are the currently the most hyped space-tech companies in the media. If you are into this topic, you must have already read enough about them through news articles and videos. This book reiterates the same events and does not have any compelling narrative. The only insightful thing I have found in this book are the stories about ...more
Kevin Furr
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business-tech
Published in 2019, here's an engaging history of space commercialization efforts so far. By its nature, it covers primarily Elon Musk, secondarily Jeff Bezos, and to a lesser degree Richard Branson and Paul Allen (the latter two leaning heavily on designer Dick Rutan). If our Science Fiction dreams come true, and someday space travel is a robust part of the everyday private economy, these early years and their history will someday be seen as extremely important. In recent years I've devoted a lo ...more
Dylan Jeremiah
This book was a decent timeline of the past and present of commercial space, unfortunately only the epilogue was looking ahead, predicting, and anticipating the future of space travel/colonization. Well researched and interesting to see the egos at play and the different "tortoise and hare" approaches by Bezos and Musk respectively. The narrative around Branson falls off about two thirds of the way through and isn't mentioned at the end despite being the third "rival" to Bezos and Musk. The pres ...more
John Taylor
The idea of space exploration and it being privately funded combine to make a potentially interesting book topic. Several ultra wealthy people with a passion to push the bounds of space could lead to a compelling read, but it didn't. "The Space Barons" was bogged down throughout. It was page-after-page of essentially the same micro story being told over-and-over. This company, run by this successful entrepreneur, is testing this rocket and it failed because of xyz or it succeeded. Repeat over an ...more
Loretta Altman-Pollack
Very cool book. It was extremely insightful on where #spacetravel is and where it is going.

The wonderful thing is, that private sector dreamers like (Bezos, Branson and Musk) are reigniting the possibilities of going to space. Making it affordable, reusable and fun!

Breaking through the heavily regulated and controlling government monopoly and cost waste. These folks are building, engineering, and doing.

Fabulous Disruption! They use any failures as a key ingredient to learning, by building it bet
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really fascinating look into the world of the space industry. The author focuses on four main companies that started in the US in the early 2000s, which I found to be very interesting. While SpaceX has acquired a lot of fame in the past few years, I was surprised by how far back it went and how long it took to get to this point. The author also helped shine a light on some lesser-known companies like Blue Origin.

Although the US-Russia space race ended, competition in the space industry
James Giammona
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good interviews with Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Paul Allen. I hadn't known many of the Bezos stories (he almost died in a helicopter crash while scouting West Texas property!) and Blue Origin history or the Virgin Galactic history. I knew most of the Musk history from Vance's book. Worth reading! ...more
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