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Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue

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4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,377 ratings  ·  392 reviews
An NPR Book Concierge Best Book of 2018!

A stunning story about how power works in the modern age--the book the New York Times called "one helluva page-turner" and The Sunday Times of London celebrated as "riveting...an astonishing modern media conspiracy that is a fantastic read." Pick up the book everyone is talking about.


In 2007, a short blogpost on Valleywag, the Silico
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Kindle Edition, 331 pages
Published February 27th 2018 by Portfolio
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  • Conspiracy by Ryan Holiday
    Conspiracy: A True Story of Power, Sex, and a Billionaire's Secret Plot to Destroy a Media Empire
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    Release date: Jun 25, 2019
    Enter for a chance to win one of 20 copies of Ryan Holiday's CONSPIRACY!

    CONSPIRACY is the story of how Peter Thiel took down Gawker--the book the New
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    Showing 1-30
    4.04  · 
    Rating details
     ·  3,377 ratings  ·  392 reviews


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    Shiri
    Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
    Great storytelling, unconvinced by the "lessons"

    I generally enjoy Ryan Holiday's writing. It is engaging if occasionally repetitive in the "tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you've told them" style. This book was even more of a page turner than his other books or than what I expected, and I found myself incredibly drawn to reading the next page and chapters even as the end was known from the very beginning.

    That said, I came away quite unconvinced by Holiday's th
    ...more
    Anton
    May 05, 2018 marked it as attempted
    Throwing my towel at 20%.

    The premise and the story are incredible! But I just cannot force myself to suffer anymore through the obnoxious writing to enjoy them...
    Brian S. Wise
    Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    I complain a lot about books (and movies) being overwritten, but “Conspiracy” is the first book in a very long time I wanted to re-edit – in-book, with a marker – and read again. Because as long as he’s staying on topic (the conspiracy to sue Gawker out of business), Ryan Holiday’s book is awesome. He competently lays the foundation and tells you the story in just about as complete a fashion as you could hope for.

    But by the sixth or seventh reference to Machiavelli – or the Second World War, the
    ...more
    Byrne
    Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
    In 2007, a Gawker writer outed Peter Thiel as gay. In 2016, after losing a $140 million lawsuit funded by Thiel, Gawker shut down. Conspiracy is the story of how we got from A to B.

    Disclosure: Gawker has tried to get more than one of my friends fired, so I didn’t shed any tears when justice was served. High-fives may have been exchanged.

    The central thesis of Conspiracy is that we need more conspiracies. It's clear that nobody is willing to labor for nearly a decade in silence in order to achieve
    ...more
    Gabriele
    Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    Ryan Holiday says this is the best book he's written. I agree.
    Tim O'Hearn
    Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Conspiracy is a not particularly concise showcase of Ryan Holiday's maturation as a writer. His writing style here is eerily similar to Antonio Garcia Martinez in Chaos Monkeys, or, generally speaking, my own, whenever I want to flaunt that I am well-read.

    It also tells one of the most compelling and mind-boggling stories of the decade. Yes, Holiday managed to get exclusive, intimate, access to Nick Denton (the CEO of Gawker), Peter Thiel (the billionaire that everyone hates now), and Hulk Hogan
    ...more
    David
    Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Recommends it for: Vengeful billionaires, muckrakers, pro-wrestlers who bang their best friend's wife
    This was far more fascinating than I ever expected.

    The short version of the story: In 2007, Gawker Media outed Peter Thiel, the billionaire investor who founded PayPal. Angered by this, Thiel embarked on what became a slow, patient campaign to destroy Gawker. The instrument of his vengeance, improbably, was Terry Bollea, better known as former professional wrestler "Hulk Hogan," who had launched a suit against Gawker for publishing a sex video of him banging his best friend's wife. Backed by Thi
    ...more
    Raymond
    I liked the book. I think I would have liked it more had it focused on conspiracies in general and used the Gawker trial as one of many case studies. Holiday references other conspiracies in history which could have been given chapter treatments. And then he could have ended the book with why some conspiracies succeed or fail.
    Paul Hambrick
    Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it
    I've enjoyed other books by Ryan Holiday. I enjoy his stoic approach to things. He's a fascinating young man with an interesting, if not worldly, misguided insight into how things work.

    This is his first bit of journalism. He does a good job investigating and telling the story about a real, honest to goodness conspiracy.

    He leaves very few stones unturned and covers what happened very thoroughly.

    The problem with this book is at the very end, he suddenly turns it into an opinion piece on his belief
    ...more
    Joe Conley
    Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
    Shelves: nonfiction
    An interesting yarn about an interesting case, even though Holiday does his best to make the book, like, really deep, man. Holiday is big into Stoicism, and boy does that show. Just about every chapter opens with a quote from Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Machiavelli, Lucretius, Sun Tzu, blah blah blah. Basically, Holiday is trying to write a Deep Book filled with Deep Thoughts and spends pages and pages waxing rhapsodic about What Is Even A Conspiracy?

    Why he'd choose that angle is beyond me, since t
    ...more
    Fabian Il.
    Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it
    Interesting for sure but lacks depth also one can’t find universal principles of conspiracies by examining one. The book gives courage to those who conspire for the greater good that I really liked other than a few lessons though it’s more a lengthy article. Maybe Ryan pumps out these books to fast and because of that their quality suffer.
    Bartosz Majewski
    Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: business
    I've read every book Ryan has published. This one is different. If you'd put a billionaire VC, Some Machiavelli, Robert Greene strategy books, and a good law thriller into a shaker and shake long enough this book would come out.

    The story is fascinating, conclusions are refreshing and an attempt to use those events as a long meditation about conspiracies, in general, is admirable.

    Highly recommended.
    Jenn Tesch
    Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: favorites
    Absorbing + fascinating, one of those tales that's impossible to believe is a true story. Ryan Holiday is so quotable throughout the entire book, little nuggets of wisdom on society, moral high ground/obligation, conspiracy, power, history, perspective, decency, wealth, the media, the legal process, strategy, psychology, war-- I bookmarked a few of my favorites. So much to learn from this book, I wish all nonfiction was written this way.

    “We used to throw bombs, now we throw tantrums – or worse,
    ...more
    C.T. Phipps
    Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: nonfiction
    After being outed to the public by Gawker and generally disgusted by their treatment of celebrity personal information (nude photos, sex tapes, innuendo, and some genuinely good reporting like Bill Cosby's sexual assaults)--Peter Thiel, founder of Paypal, gave a blank check to a group of lawyers to find cases against the media outlet. Even if you never read Gawker's sleazy coverage, you probably have visited its former sites like Kotaku. Thiel's hatchet team discovers the perfect case in Hulk Ho ...more
    Rowdy Roddick
    Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
    How far would you go to exact revenge? In "Conspiracy", author Ryan Holiday details the lengths that notorious Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel went to achieve the complete destruction of the media conglomerate Gawker after the website published a story outing him as gay in 2007, a personal matter that Thiel preferred to keep private. Waiting nearly 10 years for the perfect opportunity to strike back, Thiel finds an unlikely ally in the way of former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, who bec ...more
    Eperdu
    Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: read-in-2018
    Another great read ...

    I’ve long been a fan of Ryan Holiday, so take that for what it’s worth, but I believe this to be yet another book that seeks to enlighten and educate.

    I was understandably confused when I learned that his latest book was about Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and Peter Thiel. It seemed really strange to me. I didn’t immediately pre-order it, I waited. I had to know, why this book, why this story? After release, the reviews and thoughts began trickling out and I knew I had to read the sto
    ...more
    Rebecca
    May 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
    This is a work of non-fiction about the secret plot to take down gossip website Gawker, orchestrated by billionaire Peter Thiel. I did not like this book, which was disappointing since I heard a discussion of it on NPR that made me think it would be fabulous. I think there were a few things that irked me.

    1) For some reason the author frequently writes in the present tense. For example (not a real quote, just to illustrate), "In 2012, Thiel goes to the store. He sees his rival, and debates what t
    ...more
    Devogenes
    Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
    An interesting story told well except for rather ham-fisted insistence on framing it within the context of a grand-unified theory of conspiracies. At times I found the author to be almost obsequiously biased towards Thiel. When Mr.A is deceitful, it's sneaky and underhanded; when Thiel is deceitful it's brilliant strategy. When Denton and Gawker dehumanize people, it's callous and arrogant; when Thiel does it it's tactical genius.

    It's also easy to forget, amongst all the quotes from Clausewitz
    ...more
    Bart Van Den Bossche
    Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    Next to the really crazy story this might be Ryan Holiday's best written book up to date. The tone of voice and neutrality through which he communicates the story really add to the whole experience and truly get you sucked into the story.
    John Temple
    Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it
    Intriguing and worthwhile story, but nearly every event was then explained and re-explained until the narrative suffocated under the weight of all the exposition and historical comparisons -- the present-tense was inexplicable too.
    Daniel Rodic
    Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: business-history
    Regardless of your opinions on Peter Thiel or Gawker, Holiday's book gives you a glimpse into how to truly wield power and use secrecy, careful planning and thoughtful strategy to accomplish a long term goal.

    If you ever dream to enact change in a big way, this is a handy playbook to learn from.

    If you enjoy shows like House of Cards or Billions, this book will be something you really enjoy.

    Ryan Holiday's Ego is the Enemy also has a lot of cross over with this book - it shows how Ego on the part
    ...more
    Alexander Fitzgerald
    May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Such an engrossing book to read. Ryan Holiday is a masterful journalist. The way he correlates military strategy and history through the pages with this case is exhilarating. His journalistic integrity is exemplary as well; it was impossible to suss out his personal views throughout the pages.

    If you follow strategists or are partial to the chess games of life, this book is a must.
    Harry Lee
    Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    Firstly, the story itself is interesting. A modern day conspiracy (that doesn’t involve governments) planned and carried out by one of the smartest thinker of this age. Secondly, the story is presented by the brilliant Ryan Holiday who is able to deconstruct it and weave in lessons of old.

    I stopped reading the other books to finish this one!
    Harry Green
    Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    I was listening to a radio show Jason Gregory was on and he mentioned Ryan as being someone who is well versed in Stoicism. So I thought I'd check out this book and I got more than I expected. Not that the book is on Stoicism, but nevertheless I loved it. I'm not too savvy about the actual events as I am pretty disconnected. But Ryan hit the nail on the head in revealing the deeper levels of this conspiracy. This book really highlights a lot of cultural problems we have in the world today.
    Mart
    Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    Hard core investigative journalism performed on the downfall of some lads who went full hard core and forgot about the journalism along the way. Pulitzer level shit. Must read.
    Ryan
    Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
    Gawker was a toxic website brought down over a Hulk Hogan sex tape. What you might not have heard is that Peter Thiel secretly funded and helped to mastermind the lawsuit. This book is about the conspiracy Thiel formed when he determined that Gawker was bad for society after the website had outed him as gay, done the same to others, and posted a variety of sex tapes--in addition to gossip.

    As I began the book, I'd read most of Holiday's work. I'd never heard of Nick Denton. I haven't seen the Hul
    ...more
    christopher
    Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
    I was tempted to give this book a one star rating, but it was kind of an entertaining pare turner so I gave it two stars, even though I'm not sure it deserves the second star.

    My main problem with this book is that it Ryan Holiday wrote a love letter to the moral monster known as Peter Thiel in the form of this book, without giving a clear picture of who Peter Theil really is. Ryan Holiday will make references to Peter Thiel being a libertarian and having "unconventional ideas" but he never comes
    ...more
    Jordan Shipman
    Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    First, Ryan Holiday is one of my favorite authors—one of a few that I’ve read everything he publishes. This book is a departure from his other work and I found it mesmerizing. I’m fascinated by this story. I saw the verdict, I read the New York Times pieces, the op-eds, the documentary on Netflix. They all miss so much of what happened. This book lays it all out there as Ryan had unprecedented access to all the people involved. I loved holiday’s approach to this book, telling the story alongside ...more
    Barry Sierer
    Sep 22, 2018 rated it liked it
    Ryan Holiday takes the reader on a fascinating story of weighty legal (freedom of the press) and ethical issues (the right to privacy) and creates a story wrapped around the emotions of the participants and the tensions inherent in a conspiracy without really addressing the relevant laws in play.

    This creates a somewhat grating narrative where the laws (which determine the legal strategy and thus the outcome of the case) at stake are largely glossed over in favor the emotional journeys of the pa
    ...more
    Erin Stewart
    Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
    I vaguely remembered reading about the case this book refers to - Hulk Hogan suing Gawker Media for publishing a sex tape he didn't know was being filmed - in the New Yorker a little while ago. I'm not American and in general I find courtroom dramas from the US somewhat puzzling, although when they're interesting they're very memorable. I think this was one of those memorable cases. On the face of it, the case posed some interesting questions about privacy, the truth, and the responsibility of b ...more
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    4,202 followers
    Ryan Holiday is media strategist for notorious clients like Tucker Max and Dov Charney. After dropping out of college at 19 to apprentice under the strategist Robert Greene, he went on to advise many bestselling authors and multi-platinum musicians. He is the Director of Marketing at American Apparel, where his work in advertising was internationally known. His strategies are used as case studies ...more
    “You rush in to stamp out the sparks and end up fanning them into flames. This is the risk.” 1 likes
    “It’s the logic of two campers and the bear—you don’t need to be faster than the bear, just faster than the other camper.” 1 likes
    More quotes…