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

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4.27  ·  Rating details ·  11,384 Ratings  ·  977 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
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Kindle Edition, 330 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Portfolio
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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.
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 (
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Andrew Smith
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Ammar
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
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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
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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
Hossein
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
واقعا نمیدونم چی بگم.
فقط میتونم این شخصیت رو تحسین کنم.
کار ندارم که استعدادش رو در راه غیر قانونی خرج کرده در هر حال قابل تحسینه.
داستان واقعی زندگی راس اولبریکت خالق سایت سیلک رود بزرگترین سایت خرید و فروش مواد مخدر و البته تمام کالاهای ممنوعه که بدون این که حتی یک کلمه برنامه نویسی بلد باشه دست تنها چنین امپراطوری عظیمی رو رقم زده که تخمین زده میشه آخرای کارش قبل از دستگیری روزی 500 میلیون دلار درآمد داشته.
توصیه میکنم بخوانید حتما.
Virginia
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
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SAM
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime, 2017
"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 th ...more
Jess
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.
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!
Chuck
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Matthew Murray
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is another reason why I don't read fiction anymore. Crazy story.
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
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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
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
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Nasser Salah
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
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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
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Kathleen
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
Sam Soffes
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. A fair amount of it takes place a few minutes from where I live. Imagining the events unfolding in places I pass through everyday put me there as it was happening.

After listening to this book, it makes me want to go build something amazing and change the world. I realize that may not be the proper takeaway.

American Kingpin is fascinating story expertly told. Highly recommend.
Katherine Coble
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
The first half of the book was intriguing and fast paced. Then it got bogged down. Bilton keeps trying to find ways to make the story interesting but instead mires it in unnecessary detail. I didn't need to read 1500 words describing a run-down house in Utah where some drug dealer had a package delivered.
PiRAT
Sep 27, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
TL;DR: - Author tries to masquerade old tropes as a pitiful excuse for what happened with the silk road. If this was classed as a fiction, not making reference to the real Silk Road or Ross, then maybe, 2/3 stars? As a mediocre crime drama, idk, I don't really read that type of stuff.

As it is classed as NON-fiction though, it is an unforgivable, cast iron 1 star, maybe 0. It just fundamentally is wrong about a great many things. The most truly painful thing is though, that people who are unfamil
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Charlene
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
Kim
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ross Ulbricht was a soft-spoken kid from Austin looking for an opportunity. Raised by libertarian parents Ulbricht was a confirmed Ayn Rand/Ludwig Mises-reading libertarian himself. He was also a big fan of drugs, especially marijuana and mushrooms, with a strong libertarian belief that the government had no business telling people what they should be putting into their bodies.

He had a flash of an idea for creating an Amazon.com for drug dealers and buyers. He was convinced that such a website w
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Sandy Nawrot
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I'll be honest, I'd never even heard of the Silk Road before this book. (I guess I don't have cause to buy guns, drugs, organs or hacker equipment on the dark web.) But this is another one of those true stories that play out like a fascinating movie. In fact, there exists a documentary called "Deep Web" about the Silk Road. It couldn't be more fantastical if you made it up.

Ross Ulbricht is a gifted, free spirit, a shaggy hipster who meditates and doesn't even swear, who has always wanted to make
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Roy
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this. A historical account of the online drug empire known as The Silk Road. Its written in that fiction style whilst allowing the true story to unfold. Not sure if all the facts presented are true but it makes for entertaining reading. Could definitely see Hollywood making this into a feature film.
Mark Yellis
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remember the Silk Road website? Remember Dread Pirate Roberts? Do you? If so, you will find this well researched account of a young libertarian who became the most notorious criminal in the world over a stretch of a few years quite fascinating.
I memba!
Tangled N Books
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read by Tina

Reading a non-fiction novel was not a 2017 goal of mine. I happen upon the title when going through an email list of recommended readings I received from audible.

What luck! It's captivating. Engrossing. Thrilling. It is almost like reading a real life story of Heisenburg! What a way to start the month of July!

Unbeknownst to Ross Ulbricht, the creator of a small startup website known as the Silk Road, he became the Kingpin on the dark web. With no tech background and self taught, he
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Nadia
It's amazingly well-written book -- it's real story but is so well written that it's being read like a fiction. Although there were so many different federal agents on the case that some times I got lost who is who. :)
Even more than Ross's story it was interesting to read about kitchen wars between different US agencies and even different branches of the same agency and to think about how easier it would have been if they cooperated instead of trying to pull blanket to their side. I was rooting
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Constantin Ursu
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very well documented biography and didn't feel like the author was taking any sides, although he was clearly assuming many things about how Ross might have felt. All in all, I think it's quite a sad book and the Escobar of the dark web wasn't by far as smart as he thought he was, neither were the agents who pinned him down with a simple google search. As much as I can see the damage Silk Road brought to the world, I'm still convinced that an Amazon on the dark web (at least for drugs) is way b ...more
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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
...more
“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.” 1 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.” 0 likes
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