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

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  5,866 ratings  ·  661 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 " 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
Kindle Edition, 331 pages
Published February 27th 2018 by Portfolio
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  5,866 ratings  ·  661 reviews

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Start your review of Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue
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
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
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...
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
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
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ryan Holiday says this is the best book he's written. I agree. ...more
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
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.
Sebastian Gebski
Aug 07, 2022 rated it did not like it
This book is bad. Very BAD.

1. First of all, there's very little material for a book here. The story is far from complex, there are no twists, no complex plot - just enough material for a single article/blog post, not a book.
2. The words conspiracy appears here a LOT. Seriously, I've seen more sophisticated conspiracies in a grocery around the corner ...
3. The analysis of Gawker, Denton, and even Thiel - is very shallow; it feels like based on Internet gossip site articles instead of professional
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,
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.
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.
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
On one hand, I really think everyone should read this simply because it does address what is, to me, the unanswerable questions that freedom of speech raises (and I much rather have freedom of speech than not).

Yet, the book starts at good and then you start wonder.

For instance, Holiday seems far, far more sympathetic to Thiel, which is understandable, but the sympathy is very obvious which undermines the unbias slant the book seems to want to have.

Or, there is the almost complete glossing over o
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
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 page 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
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
I doubt I'd have bothered with this book if it didn't have "Ryan Holiday" on the cover. I mean, can the story of Hulk Hogan suing Gawker really be that interesting? Who is the target audience - the intersection of "people who are fans of Hulk Hogan" and "people who know how to read"? But Holiday said it was his favourite thing he'd ever written, so I gave it a chance... and the response is a resounding "meh".

Conspiracy isn't terrible; it's as well-written as anything from Mr. Holiday, and I supp
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
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. ...more
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was an account of the conspiracy Peter Thiel spearheaded to take down Gawker Media after a blog post that outed him in 2007. There is no good guy to root for here — Gawker was a callous gossip site that encouraged bullying, published sex tapes, and delighted in its negative press. Peter Thiel, on the other hand, is a tech billionaire who went on to support Trump after masterminding the lawsuit that brought down Gawker. Is it unethical for a man with endless funds to exact revenge on a ...more
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Moods: informative, reflective
Pace: Medium

Strong character development? It's complicated
Loveable characters? No
Diverse cast of characters? No
Flaws of characters centre-stage? Yes

I thought there'd be a lot more drama and action in this book than there was.

While there certainly was intrigue, I did find the pace slower than I expected, especially with Ryan Holiday re-iterating multiple times the ideas around conspiracies and what happens when people feel wronged/vengeful, rather than focusing on th
MM Suarez
Jan 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook narrated by Ryan Holiday (author) 11hrs 39 mins

No matter what side of a First Amendment argument you fall under this author does a very entertaining job of telling this crazy but true story. I heard about this case back when these events took place but was not fully aware of how it all came about, after reading this book and looking at our world these many years later, I am not at all convinced that this case taught anyone any "lessons" if anything things have gotten worse!

The author
Oct 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Yikes. Could've been a bit more concise. It's a good story, but it leaves me feeling conflicted. ...more
John Machata
Aug 07, 2022 rated it really liked it
Well written. Interesting documentation of how Thiel responded to Gawker by analyzing their weakness, exploiting that weakness, and bringing Gawker down.
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
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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

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