Elon Musk, the billionaire Silicon Valley "it boy" of the moment who founded Paypal and Tesla, recommended an obscure, out of print history book in an interview on Thursday with Bloomberg. That book, Twelve Against the Gods: The Story of Adventure by William Bolitho, quickly sold out on Abebooks.com and Amazon.com. At the time of writing, it is also attracting bids in excess of $100 on eBay.
Twelve Against the Gods is a series of sketches of the lives of twelve historical figures including Alexander the Great, Casanova, Napoleon, and Woodrow Wilson. Its description states that it is "intended to elucidate history somewhat, more to illustrate it, to honour without hypocrisy the deeds of men and women whose destiny was larger, if not deeper than our own." It was published in 1929.
The book was written by William Bolitho who was born in 1890, fighting in, and barely surviving, WWI. After the war, Bolitho became a foreign correspondent for The Guardian, working in Paris where he met Ernest Hemmingway. Bolitho was also good friends with Noel Coward, who dedicated his play Post Morterm to him. Bolito died at an early age in 1930 from peritonitis.