Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road” as Want to Read:
American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  28,203 ratings  ·  2,288 reviews
From New York Times-bestselling author Nick Bilton comes a true-life thriller about the rise and fall of Ross Ulbricht, aka the Dread Pirate Roberts, the founder of the online black market Silk Road.
     In Hatching Twitter, Nick Bilton gave readers an astonishingly reported, riveting, and impeccably crafted story of the politics and power struggles behind the founding
Kindle Edition, 343 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Portfolio
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about American Kingpin, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about American Kingpin

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  28,203 ratings  ·  2,288 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road
Ryan Shaw
May 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Olivier Schreiber
May 04, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 (
Moeen Sahraei
May 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unbelievably exciting. This book is the best real story I’ve ever read. The author had done heck of a research and collected every single piece of this amazing puzzle.

This book relates the story of The first online website for selling drugs and later it was even used for selling weapons.People called it
“the Amazon for drugs” because you could simply make an account on the site and buy a wide variety of drugs like heroin, cocaine , marijuana and more than ten thousand other miscellaneous drugs
Jason Pettus
DECLINED TO REVIEW. Generally speaking, it's a pretty typical phenomenon that when we get interested in a nonfiction book because of the subject it's covering, most of us are willing to put up with pretty lousy actual writing in order to read more about that subject, with me being no exception. But man, I just reached my limit when it came to Nick Bilton's American Kingpin, which takes on an utterly fascinating subject (it chronicles the rise and fall of "dark web" location Silk Road, one of the ...more
Andrew Smith
Ross Ulbricht, born in Texas in 1984, is a libertarian and one of his staple beliefs is that people should be able to put into their bodies whatever they wish, including any type of drug they choose. To this end, he believes that the sale of drugs should be decriminalised. So it’s probably not that surprising that this highly educated individual (bachelor’s degree in physics and masters degree in materials science and engineering) would be attracted to the idea of building an online site to prov ...more
Jun 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: society, usa, crime
It would be exaggerating to say that I found this book a struggle, but it didn’t hold my interest as much as I had expected. I seem to be in a minority on that, as other reviewers describe the book as a page turner. For my part, there was a particular element to it that reduced my overall enjoyment.

True crime isn’t a genre I turn to very often, but this did look like an interesting story. I was vaguely aware of the Silk Road website when it was active, but I’d never heard of Ross Ulbricht until
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book that reads like a thriller is pure joy and information. The author did a great job creating all the events based on primary documents and interviews with the people who took down The Silk Road.

An adventure into the dark web, Tor, drugs, murders, an all you can buy from illegal bazaar.

Ross Ulbricht the mastermind behind this massive network of drugs and other activities is hunted down by an array of government services and agents.

His libertarian ideas that nothing should be controlled
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelve this in the category of truth is often stranger than fiction…

This is a fast-paced, well-researched and documented account of the man who built the Silk Road--the infamous marketplace for selling drugs and weapons on the dark web--and it reads like a suspense thriller. Written in a narrative nonfiction style, Bilton delivers one of the most compelling true crime books I’ve listened to replete with characters tailor made for a Quentin Tarantino movie.

Ross Ulrich, the self-titled Dread Pirat
Jun 12, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It reads like it was written by a 16 year old who had to come up with something quickly for their English homework. So cliche and plays into so many stereotypes! I really wanted to get on with this book and had expectations due to the other reviews on here but ended up very disappointed.
Dino-Jess ✮ The Book Eating Dinosaur ✮
I have a confession to make.....

I had never heard of the black market website Silk Road 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 "DPR!" with no other explanation. When I mentioned that I didn't know what he was referring to, he sent me to this wonderful article that helped bring me up to speed. And from then on, I was fascinated with this story.

When I found out that American Kingpin was yet to be
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, good-true-crime
"The Silk Road, after all, was just the platform - no different from Facebook or Twitter or Ebay - on which users communicated and exchanged ideas and currency. So who was DPR to err on the side of anything but yes? It wasn't as if twitter dictated what kind of opinions people could and could not write in the little box at the top of the screen. If you wanted to spew brilliance or idiocy in 140 characters, then so be it. It was your God-given right to say what you wanted on the Internet, in ...more
Joy D
Narrative non-fiction that reads like a cybercrime thriller, this book tells the true story of Ross Ulbricht (aka Dread Pirate Roberts), creator of the Silk Road website (now defunct) on the dark net where drugs, weapons, body parts, and other contraband were offered for sale using Bitcoin virtual currency. It is a story of the rise and fall of the Silk Road, the transformation of mild-mannered college-educated Ulbricht into the head of a global criminal enterprise, and the government agents and ...more
Paul Ataua
Sep 29, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was really looking forward to finding out more about the whole Silk Road story, but even after a few pages of this I knew I would have to look elsewhere to get a more informed picture. The telltale signs were there from the beginning when the author, telling of minor incidents five or ten years earlier, was able to add the exact moment in the sentence when someone batted her eyelids or when someone scratched his nose, and exactly what he was thinking in the quiet of his room some five years ea ...more
Matthew Murray
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is another reason why I don't read fiction anymore. Crazy story. ...more
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Damn, it’s hard to beat good narrative nonfiction! This is the rise and fall of Ross Ulbricht, a staunch libertarian, who believed people should be able to buy and sell whatever they wish without government regulation. It’s your body, put what you want into it. He created the Silk Road, a darknet marketplace where patrons could buy and/or sell illicit items, primarily drugs, anonymously. This shit is crazy. I couldn’t stop listening.
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 Stars. Loved it!
Jillian Doherty
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!

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.
Review of the audiobook narrated by Will Damron.

This book is nonfiction written like fiction, which means the author has to make up dialog and even scenes in many places throughout. This is both the best and worst thing about the book, as there are many gripping sequences, but many times the dialog between characters sounds fake. However, the eventual police takedown of DPR (Dread Pirate Roberts, the moniker taken on by Ross Ulbricht) by itself justifies the fiction-like storytelling. It has a g
Alex Givant
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2019, audio, crime
Excellent account on hunt for Silk Road owner, read absolutely like a fiction.
Ellen Gail

3.5 stars.

Quick side note: if you haven't finished Breaking Bad, this spoils the ending. American Kingpin does I mean, my review doesn't. My review will encourage you to watch Breaking Bad however.

If I can quote another fantastic reviewer for a quick sec, the fantastic Dino-Jess said, "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." And that was 100% true
Oscar Calva
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks
"Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism." - Carl Jung

"Most of the people on this site are just nerds," he said. "They're not ruthless drug lords." - Jared Der-Yeghiayan, DOHS special agent

I remember when news started to pop some years ago about that dark web site "The Silk Road" a black market for drugs, guns, and all things illegal trade (highly sensationalized news indeed). That was the first time I ever heard of the dark web, it eve
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ross Ulbricht, great man with a vision. libertarian he was.
Sure. he wanted to make money. That was the libertairian way. But he wanted to free poeple too. There were millions of souls crammed into jails across the country because of drugs. mostly inconsequential drugs like weed and magic mushrooms. A vile and putrid prison system kept those people locked away; lives destroyed because the government wanted to tell people what they could and could not do with their own bodies.
This site Silkroad
American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road

Incredible. This was just a few years ago, folks! It's clear there will be more of this type of chicanery ahead, and we are certainly stepping in the middle of it right now. Deep and dark and full of nasty consequences. This is not my usual topic, but this tale had me high-fiving strangers at the end when Ross and all his buddies were caught up in their consequences. (You gotta love Target! Earbuds and all. Nothing p
Brendan Monroe
I like Ross Ulbricht. I do. I think he went up against what is, frankly, an unjust system that had to get rid of him for fear that he would bring it crumbling down.

Ulbricht is not that much different in my mind from people like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Daniel Ellsberg. Did those men all undermine U.S. laws? Yes. But the laws they undermined were, for the most part, bad laws.

Ulbricht's case is admittedly different from those of the above men in that he went too far in pursuit of what
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bilton is a Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair where he often writes about technology, and is the author of Hatching Twitter. His experience in being able to present complicated internet technology concepts in a form understandable to the average reader proved to be invaluable in writing about the Silk Road and its founder, Ross Ulbricht. Ulbricht lived on the Dark Web, using the browser Tor that provides anonymity for its users, and the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. All he needed to build his $1.2 ...more
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like true crime non-fiction this is a very good read. 

It's one of those books where story is so interesting, that you forgive author all writing lapses. The story of Silk Road creator from the beginning to the very end. I found an evolution of the main character and his motivations to create his website to be very interesting. Also, equally fascinating was to read about investigations conducted by different branches of the government and how they competed with each other.

After reading thi
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-library, 2019
You type lines of code into a computer, and out comes a world that didn’t exist before. There are no laws here except your laws. You decide who is given power and who is not. And then you wake up one morning and you’re not you anymore. You’re one of the most notorious drug dealers alive. And now you’re deciding if someone should live or die. You’re the judge in your own court. You’re god.

American Kingpin tells the fascinating true story of the rise and fall of Ross Ulbricht, aka the Dread Pirate
I knew from Chapter One that I was going to love this book. Having previously read Bilton's Hatching Twitter created high hopes and Bilton did not dissipoint! Immediately addicted, I was worried that I was going to blow through this book in the first day. The thought of not having it to savor each day was depressing because finding a book this exciting is a rarity. I tried so hard to make this book last, promising myself to only listen to the audio version while on the treadmill. (What a great r ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: American Kingpin 4 stars 1 5 Jan 27, 2021 07:30AM  
My Favorite Crime...: Ross' Philosophy 1 7 Jan 19, 2021 12:31PM  
My Favorite Crime...: The Silk Road 3 7 Jan 16, 2021 07:36AM  
My Favorite Crime...: Doing Time 2 6 Jan 15, 2021 06:06PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World
  • Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street
  • Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork
  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
  • Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice
  • Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption
  • Światy równoległe. Czego uczą nas płaskoziemcy, homeopaci i różdżkarze
  • Blood and Oil: Mohammed bin Salman's Ruthless Quest for Global Power
  • The Mastermind: Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal.
  • San Francisco. Dziki brzeg wolności
  • Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber
  • The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron
  • The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History
  • Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
  • The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company
  • The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War
  • Cyrk polski
  • 27 śmierci Toby'ego Obeda
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Nick Bilton is a Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair, where he writes about technology, politics, business and culture. He is also a contributor to CNBC, and a former columnist and reporter for The New York Times.

He has written three books, including The New York Times bestseller, “Hatching Twitter,” which chronicled the turmoil and chaos inside Twitter as it grew from a fledgling startup to a m

Related Articles

Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
119 likes · 20 comments
“Most people go through life thinking that tomorrow they’re going to do something great. Tomorrow will be the day that they wake up and discover what they were put on this earth to do. But then tomorrow comes—and goes. As does the next day. Before long, they realize that there aren’t that many tomorrows left.” 3 likes
“Over time he learned that the way to have a leg up on everyone else was to anticipate something before it happened and then have the answer to it.” 1 likes
More quotes…