American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road by Nick Bilton

American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road

The unbelievable true story of the man who built a billion-dollar online drug empire from his bedroom--and almost got away with it In 2011, a twenty-six-year-old libertarian programmer named Ross Ulbricht launched the ultimate free market: the Silk Road, a clandestine Web site hosted on the Dark Web where anyone could trade anything--drugs, hacking software, forged passp...

Title:American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:1591848148
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:328 pages

American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road Reviews

  • Dino-Jess ✮ The Book Eating Dinosaur ✮

    I had never heard of the black market website

    until sometime last year.

    When an interpretation of the site was featured on Mr Robot's second season, my friend sent me a message that said "

    " with no other explanation. When I mentioned that I didn't know what he was referring to, he sent me to

    that helped bring me up to speed. And from then on, I was fascinated with this story.

    When I found out that

    was yet to be

    I had never heard of the black market website

    until sometime last year.

    When an interpretation of the site was featured on Mr Robot's second season, my friend sent me a message that said "

    " with no other explanation. When I mentioned that I didn't know what he was referring to, he sent me to

    that helped bring me up to speed. And from then on, I was fascinated with this story.

    When I found out that

    was yet to be released, I was so eager to read

    by Nick Bilton, that I bought his other book,

    and loved it so much I immediately began worrying that this one wouldn't stack up.

    And it didn't. Not

    .

    I really think I did myself a disservice in reading extensively about the Silk Road and DPR before embarking on this book - as I knew all the twists and turns in this story ahead of time.

    That is not to say that Nick Bilton doesn't deliver a fantastic,

    , narrative of events in this. He does such a superb job of delivering facts, figures and tidbits of information that at times you might actually scratch your head and wonder how on earth he got his hands on this type of information. Never fear - he explains the entire research process at the end of the book which I found incredibly enlightening and mildly astonishing.

    But what I enjoyed the most was that even though Ross Ulbricht was not talked to for this book, I feel like I know and understand the

    mastermind behind Silk Road for having read it. His beliefs, trials and tribulations were woven together with such coherency that even though I knew how this story played out, I wanted him to triumph.

    Nick Bilton sure knows how to tell a story. His attention to detail is incredible and even when explaining complex and overwhelming computer systems, coding and all sorts of other technological jargon, his writing style is so readable that you will zoom through the pages faster than you thought possible.

    At first I wasn't sure about how short some of the chapters were, and the ends of some of them didn't leave me

    to continue reading right away. But with so much of the story to be set up, it's understandable why the story was written this way.

    It's a fascinating story that I will likely read again, because it very subtly makes you question your beliefs, morals and integrity as it paints you a portrait of a small idea taken to the grandest of scales and turned awry as a result of its successes.

    I guess the most important part of me reading this book is that even though the entire thing was a giant neon flashing sign of Ross's guilt - with his association to the sales of drugs, guns and anything else illegal that the Silk Road wanted to dabble in.... At the end of the day I am not entirely convinced that Ross Ulbricht is DPR. Because...

    Nick Bilton, I will read your shopping lists. You are a unicorn.

  • Virginia

    A thrilling tale of the modern crime world that is so insane you couldn't make any of it up!

    Following the steps of Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind The Silk Road, and the law enforcement agents out to stop him, you get an incredible insight into the cyber criminal world and how it's evolving. You also get to see how law enforcement departments both help and hinder each other as well as how easy it is to blur the line between what is legal or not. Good guys become bad guys and bad guys beco

    A thrilling tale of the modern crime world that is so insane you couldn't make any of it up!

    Following the steps of Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind The Silk Road, and the law enforcement agents out to stop him, you get an incredible insight into the cyber criminal world and how it's evolving. You also get to see how law enforcement departments both help and hinder each other as well as how easy it is to blur the line between what is legal or not. Good guys become bad guys and bad guys become human. It's a very cool story that I still can't believe is non-fiction.

    I recommend this to anyone who enjoy thriller novels, those interested in modern crime, and anyone who's ever thought about their impact in the world.

  • Jillian Doherty

    Holy awesome read batman!!

    If you like literary story telling that just happens to be a roller coaster of legit events~ you'll love this too! It has every element of a good narrative, while being able to google all the characters and timelines = story happiness!

  • Ryan Shaw

    I don't have the energy or will to write an actual review but I will say this: I started the book and then I finished the book. There may have been a bathroom break in there but this book had me from beginning to end.

  • Olivier Schreiber

    Ross's mother wrote the following:

    A book called American Kingpin by Nick Bilton claims to be the “unbelievable true story” of my son, Ross Ulbricht. After reading an online adaptation, I agree: It’s unbelievable.

    Just the headline and subhead demonstrate the hyperbole, sensationalism and inaccuracy of this coverage:

    It calls the case a “murder mystery,” yet no murders occurred.

    The Silk Road was not a “billion-dollar enterprise.” The government says the site’s total revenue was a fraction of that (

    Ross's mother wrote the following:

    A book called American Kingpin by Nick Bilton claims to be the “unbelievable true story” of my son, Ross Ulbricht. After reading an online adaptation, I agree: It’s unbelievable.

    Just the headline and subhead demonstrate the hyperbole, sensationalism and inaccuracy of this coverage:

    It calls the case a “murder mystery,” yet no murders occurred.

    The Silk Road was not a “billion-dollar enterprise.” The government says the site’s total revenue was a fraction of that ($183,961,921, 82% less).

    Ross is not “dangerous.” All his convictions were non-violent. He has no record of hurting anyone. No victims came forward at trial to claim that Ross had harmed them in any way. Rather, he is widely known as peaceful and compassionate. Read what 100 people who actually know him have to say.

    And that’s just the headline!

    Other points:

    Bilton portrays Ross as having arranged murder-for-hire, yet this was never proven and Ross was not charged with this at trial.

    Note: There is a 3-year-old, unprosecuted indictment in Maryland based on the word of ex-DEA agent Carl Mark Force. Force is now in prison for corruption along with ex-NSA/Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges. As computer experts, these two agents had unfettered access to the site and the ability to act as DPR, change evidence, steal money and more.

    Bilton conflates Dread Pirate Roberts and Ross. Yet, as Ross’ appeal states on page six, the government did not produce a single witness to authenticate a connection between Ross and any of the communications attributable to DPR.

    Note: The question of multiple DPRs was touched on (and blocked) at trial, yet recent evidence shows that someone using the DPR account logged into the Silk Road seven weeks after Ross was arrested. Who was that? In addition, evidence of tampering of the Silk Road forum database has been discovered. None of this is mentioned.

    Ross is not a computer programmer or coder and never was.

    Bilton extensively quotes Ross’ journal. Yet, as technical experts know, digital evidence is vulnerable to planting, deleting, altering. Incriminating content could have easily been planted when Ross was arrested (he was on an open source network), or at other times before or after. There are many issues with the laptop investigation, among them: the laptop crashed during investigation and one agent testified that he didn’t follow the guidelines when investigating it.

    Ross is not violent. He is not a murderer. He is a danger to no one and should not be locked away, especially for life. I think Nick Bilton knows this, as he emailed me the following:

    “I’ve spent a hundred hours talking to people who knew Ross over the years, and what I find truly remarkable is that there hasn’t been a single person who disliked him. People have told me he was kind, thoughtful, compassionate, and how he was helpful and caring to everyone, especially to those in society that most people judge and ignore.” – Nick Bilton

    Yet, presumably for money, Bilton has used unproven allegations to produce a book that smears a man who is fighting for his life.

    Ross cannot defend himself or his reputation against this media onslaught. He is helpless to stop the feeding frenzy, sensationalizing, fictionalizing and profiting from his life. He’s just trying to survive yet another day in a cage, trusting that the appellate court cares more about the truth than the media does.

  • Chuck

    5-stars

    Wow! This one really pisses me off, but it’s a marvelous read. What a shame that more nonfiction isn’t written in this style. This is the can't-miss book of the year, for sure. Guaranteed.

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