Walter Isaacson Calls Into Question the Accuracy of His Own Book

Will Oremus, Washington Post:

Already, one of the book’s critical passages has sparked geopolitical drama — and an embarrassing public walk-back by Isaacson. In an excerpt from the book published in The Washington Post on Friday, Isaacson recounts how Musk single-handedly foiled a Ukrainian sneak attack on a Russian naval fleet in Crimea by cutting off the Starlink satellite internet service Ukraine’s drones were relying on. Isaacson writes that Musk made the decision because he feared the attack could lead to nuclear war, based on his conversation weeks earlier with a Russian ambassador.

But when CNN obtained the excerpt and reported on it, Musk tweeted a different account. He said he didn’t cut Ukraine’s Starlink service in Crimea; it was already deactivated there, and he refused the Ukrainians’ emergency request to activate it so they could carry out the attack. Isaacson tweeted Friday that Musk’s version of the story was accurate, meaning the passage in his book is misleading.

This can be considered, at best, a mixed review of Isaacson’s book, but is that fair? If there is already one pretty significant error in Isaacson’s original reporting in this high-profile, all-access biography — one that its own author is pointing out days ahead of its Tuesday release — that gives me pause, especially considering Musk himself is not a reliable narrator.

Update: In a lengthy interview with Shawn McCreesh of New York, Isaacson seems to believe Musk has sent a rocket to Mars, something which has not happened.