Errol Musk told Insider he isn't happy with what he's heard about the new biography on his son.
Elon Musk's father said he doesn't plan to read the book, but he's seen excerpts from it.
Errol Musk is a central figure in the book, but said he resents being cast as the villain.
Errol Musk isn't happy with Walter Isaacson's recent biography about his son, Elon Musk.
Elon Musk's father, an engineer from South Africa who was at one point involved in the emerald business, is a central — and controversial — figure in the book. Isaacson's biography on Elon Musk is filled with accounts of incidents where the Tesla CEO and other family members claim Errol Musk bullied and demeaned Elon. In the past, Errol Musk has repeatedly denied the accounts.
In the book, Isaacson claims Elon's negative relationship with his father helped shape his personality and outlook on life — characterizing Errol as a sort of Darth Vader to Elon's Luke Skywalker and Errol's impact on Elon's psyche as "a danger that needed to be constantly battled."
Errol's name appears more than 120 times in the over 600-page book. But Errol said that he doesn't plan to read the full book, aside from some excerpts that he said journalists and friends have sent him.
"Why would I want to read someone's poor interpretation of the story? I was there," Errol Musk told Insider in a phone interview. "And then of course there's stuff about Elon and his wives and children and all that which is not my business. I don't want to read about stuff that's not my business," he added.
The 77-year-old said he doesn't feel Isaacson was able to get an accurate picture of his life or his character based on the one conversation he said they had over the phone. In his book, Isaacson wrote that he spoke to Errol for about three hours and exchanged a series of follow-up calls and emails with him over the course of two years.
Errol said he felt he'd been cast as the villain
Ultimately, Errol Musk said he feels the book is an over-dramatization of his son's life — and one that inaccurately casts him as the villain in his son's story.
"He writes things people want to hear," Errol said of Isaacson.
"They want to read about poor little Pip and poor little Oliver Twist," Errol Musk said, referencing Charles Dickens' novels "Great Expectations" and "Oliver Twist." "Those are my sons and I'm as they said 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,' which is not true. It makes for good reading, but it's not necessarily accurate."
In the biography, Isaacson wrote that Errol has a "Jekyll-and-Hyde nature."
"There were times when Errol would be jovial and fun, but occasionally he would become dark, verbally abusive, and possessed by fantasies and conspiracies," Isaacson wrote of Musk's time living with his father during his adolescence in a portion of the book he titled "Jekyll and Hyde."
Elon Musk has made similar comments in the past. In 2017, he told Rolling Stone that his father was "a terrible human being."
"My dad will have a carefully thought-out plan of evil," he told the publication. "He will plan evil."
Errol Musk has also faced scrutiny for a romantic relationship with his former stepdaughter Jana Bezuidenhout, whom he fathered two children with after divorcing her mother. In the biography on Elon Musk, Isaacson wrote that the billionaire was worried his father was "uncomfortably attentive" to the stepdaughter when she was 15 years old. Errol denied the claims, saying he was equally attentive to all of his children.
"It's nothing like what the press say that 'I made my stepdaughter pregnant,''" Errol Musk said, adding that his former stepdaughter was in her 30s when she had a child with him. "That's laughable. That's an absolute joke. I mean women don't get 'made pregnant,' women make decisions."
Insider has previously attempted to contact Bezuidenhout for comment on the book and her relationship with Errol, but has not heard back.
After Isaacson's book was published earlier this month, Errol Musk said the author called him to get his reaction to the biography.
"I told him he'd gone for sensationalism and he laughed," Errol Musk said, adding that the author told him that he hoped Errol would eventually be able to repair his relationship with his children.
'I'm their dad. I'm not their pal.'
In the book, Isaacson wrote that Elon Musk and his brother Kimbal Musk have cut off communication with their father — an assertion Errol Musk denies.
"Kimbal — two days ago because of his birthday – I sent him a happy birthday greeting. To which he sent me a 'Thanks Dad,'" Errol said. (Kimbal's birthday took place on September 20, two days before Insider spoke with Errol.) Errol Musk added that he'd also communicated with Elon Musk's office just hours before we'd spoke regarding funding for a trip he plans to take to Florida in November to speak on a panel.
"I have the same relationship with my sons as my father had with me," Errol said. "In other words, we are men, we don't hang out with each other. They're my children. I'm their dad. I'm not their pal."
Isaacson, Elon Musk, and Kimbal Musk did not respond to a request for comment ahead of publication.
Though Errol Musk claims to have not read the book, he pointed out a few instances from the biography where he felt Isaacson's account didn't match his understanding of his son, including an incident where Elon Musk got into an argument with Bill Gates after he learned the Microsoft cofounder had shorted Tesla's stock.
"I was quite surprised because I know Elon wouldn't do that. He's very stoic," Errol Musk said, adding he'd not previously heard of the argument. "To get Elon to say two words by the way is very difficult. He's a one-word person."
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