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American Kingpin
American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road | Nick Bilton
31 posts | 30 read | 41 to read
The unbelievable true story of the man who built a billion-dollar online drug empire from his bedroomand 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 anythingdrugs, hacking software, forged passports, counterfeit cash, poisonsfree of the governments watchful eye. It wasnt long before the media got wind of the new Web site where anyonenot just teenagers and weed dealers but terrorists and black hat hackerscould buy and sell contraband detection-free. Spurred by a public outcry, the federal government launched an epic two-year manhunt for the sites elusive proprietor, with no leads, no witnesses, and no clear jurisdiction. All the investigators knew was that whoever was running the site called himself the Dread Pirate Roberts. The Silk Road quickly ballooned into $1.2 billion enterprise, and Ross embraced his new role as kingpin. He enlisted a loyal crew of allies in high and low places, all as addicted to the danger and thrill of running an illegal marketplace as their customers were to the heroin they sold. Through his network he got wind of the target on his back and took drastic steps to protect himselfincluding ordering a hit on a former employee. As Ross made plans to disappear forever, the Feds raced against the clock to catch a man they werent sure even existed, searching for a needle in the haystack of the global Internet. Drawing on exclusive access to key players and two billion digital words and images Ross left behind, Vanity Fair correspondent and New York Times bestselling author Nick Bilton offers a tale filled with twists and turns, lucky breaks and unbelievable close calls. Its a story of the boy next doors ambition gone criminal, spurred on by the clash between the new world of libertarian-leaning, anonymous, decentralized Web advocates and the old world of government control, order, and the rule of law. Filled with unforgettable characters and capped by an astonishing climax, American Kingpin might be dismissed as too outrageous for fiction. But its all too real.
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review
Kalalalatja
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Pickpick

Okay, this case is 🍌👖!

What Ulbricht did and how he did it is unbelievable, but how different law enforcement agencies were too busy taking credit instead of working together blew my mind! This case could have been solved much faster if people actually spoke to each other! And didn‘t turn rogue, of course.
Also, the author‘s foreshadowing annoyed me. Yes, I know things are going to end badly, but stop spoiling it!

Thanks for the rec @Cinfhen

Megabooks Fantastic book, isn‘t it?? 1mo
Cinfhen I agree, SO MANY egos at play!!!! I wish Netflix would turn this into a series 1mo
BarbaraBB I want a podcast! 1mo
vivastory Okay, my thing lately seems to be 🍌👖true crime, so clearly I'll be reading this one!! 1mo
55 likes4 comments
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Reviewsbylola
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Ok, so I just finished this on #audio, on the recommendation of @Cinfhen @Megabooks and @britt_brooke

It was fantastic, as they said. But here‘s where I‘m perplexed. I noticed a movement to “free Ross,” including an online petition. The argument is that his sentence is unjust and the government is trying to make an example of him. That he‘s a “non violent” criminal that doesn‘t deserve to waste away in prison for the rest of his life. ⬇️

Reviewsbylola And I‘m just baffled. This is a dude that decided his political stance should dictate the right of people to do what they want—drugs, weapons, etc. As the judge said, everything he did was with the intention of stripping away the social fabric of this country and the world. He put out hits on people. Wtf kind of privileged bullshit is it for people to take up this dude‘s cause because he‘s a smart, educated white guy? Am I wrong to see it ⬇️ (edited) 1mo
Reviewsbylola that way? Because literally all I see is glaring privilege and it‘s disgusting. Ross Ulbricht knew exactly what he was doing. He knew the consequences, should he be caught. 🤷🏼‍♀️ Why would anyone take up his cause? 1mo
Megabooks I completely agree. It‘s people who are extreme libertarians, like Ross. Apparently they all just forget about that gulch experiment in South America. He took out hits on people. He had a conspiracy to distribute drugs on a scale beyond that of even Purdue pharma. He‘s the definition of an offender. Yeah... 1mo
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Mdargusch I need to read this to be able to discuss. 1mo
Cinfhen 💯 he should be locked up!! I think it‘s a very small group who favors his political views ( and maybe his looks) that want to see his sentence reduced. He created a mastermind black market that broke so MANY LAWS!!! He was selling body parts!!!!!! This dude is a criminal 1mo
britt_brooke It‘s dilusional to me, but I‘m sure these whacked out extreme libertarians view him as their pseudo leader. He‘s a criminal on a massive scale. (edited) 1mo
Reviewsbylola I‘m thinking this could count as my #politicalintrigue 🤔 What say you @Cinfhen 1mo
Reviewsbylola It‘s just wild to me how many signatures he‘s gotten on his petition. I even had a “friend” on my FB share the petition. 🙄 @megabooks @cinfhen @britt_brooke Like seriously, find a worthier cause. (edited) 1mo
Cinfhen Sure, it could work for political intrigue ❣️ 1mo
46 likes9 comments
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ShyBookOwl
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This was a slam dunk for me and my husband. We have very different reading tastes -- I'm all fiction and he's all career development nonfiction. But recently we discovered that natrative nonfiction is where our worlds can collide. This is our latest shared read. The fast-paced true story of the creator of a site on the dark web that reads like a thriller. A wild ride!

britt_brooke Narrative nonfiction is hard to beat! I loved this one. One of my top reads of the year! 1mo
ShyBookOwl @britt_brooke yes! So far we've read Bad Blood and this. I'm hunting for our next one now! Considering Bill Browder's Red Notice 1mo
britt_brooke @ShyBookOwl Bad Blood is so good! I haven‘t read Red Notice. Need to stack it. I also recommend Jeff Guinn‘s books. My favorite is (edited) 1mo
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ShyBookOwl @britt_brooke oh nice! I am curious about jonestown. Will stack! Thx 1mo
Reviewsbylola I need to read this! Some narrative nonfiction both the men and women in my family read together and enjoyed— 1mo
Reviewsbylola And I don‘t think the men read this one, but another great choice 1mo
ljuliel I‘ve seen this mentioned a lot. Guess I should give it a try. 1mo
ShyBookOwl @Reviewsbylola awesome! I guess narrative nonfiction is great common ground in families lol thank you for the recs! These look intense! 1mo
39 likes9 comments
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Cinfhen
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Pickpick

This NEEDS to be made into a movie!!!! The MOST startling NF read!!!I‘m in awe. While the writing wasn‘t perfect the storytelling was SUPERB 🙌🏻
A misguided young man who‘s ideals turned him into a billionaire criminal kingpin.

Ashley_Nicoletto I bought this for my BF last year for Christmas and he was obsessed with it. I need to read it! 2mo
Cinfhen I want EVERYONE to read it @Ashley_Nicoletto !!! It‘s bonkers 2mo
britt_brooke So happy you loved it, too! This is one I know I‘ll be recommending for a long time. 2mo
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Reviewsbylola I could be wrong but I think this is on my radar because of @Megabooks 🤔 Now I need to read it for sure! If you, Meg, and @britt_brooke all speak so highly I‘m sold! 1mo
britt_brooke @Reviewsbylola I think you‘ll like it!! 1mo
Cinfhen Yes!!!!! @Megabooks put this book on my #ReadingRadar @Reviewsbylola and it‘s 🍌👖You will LOVE IT!!!! I listened on audio which was excellent & I think @britt_brooke did 👂🏼know Meg choose audio too🎧 1mo
Crazeedi I HAVE to read this!!! 1mo
britt_brooke @Cinfhen Yes - the audio is fantastic! @Reviewsbylola 1mo
Cinfhen It‘s a crazy story @Crazeedi I highly recommend listening to the audio ❤️ 1mo
Crazeedi @Cinfhen I'm going to try to find the audio 1mo
Mdargusch I‘m definitely putting this as my next NF read since you and Stephanie liked it so much! 1mo
Cinfhen It‘s sooooo good @Mdargusch I listened on audio and was literally OBSESSED 1mo
HOTPock3tt Saw this on your top #19of2019 and now I‘m interested!!! 😃 3w
HOTPock3tt Just downloaded the audiobook from the library 🤣👍🏽 3w
Cinfhen It‘s CRAZZZZY @HOTPock3tt and the audio is great!!! Hope you love it 3w
85 likes8 stack adds15 comments
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Cinfhen
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Mind blowing!!! I just can‘t believe what I‘m reading/ listening too....CRAZZZZY🤯
Thanks for the recommendation @Megabooks Hope you‘re feeling well ❤️

Heatherfeather I listened to this with a constant open mouth and wide eyes haha 2mo
britt_brooke This is one of my top reads of the year!! I couldn‘t stop listening. The audacity of DPR!! 2mo
squirrelbrain Sounds fab! I wonder if it would be as good to read rather than listen? (I still haven‘t finished my first audiobook that I started in April - I guess they‘re not for me!) 2mo
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Cinfhen It‘s hard to believe any of this stuff @Heatherfeather @britt_brooke @squirrelbrain I‘m sure it‘s just as gripping in print. The audacity of some of the government agents is MOST SHOCKING @britt_brooke (edited) 2mo
Megabooks This is my dad‘s favorite all-time audiobook, and I love it too. Really great narrative nonfiction! 2mo
Megabooks I‘ll write back soon. I‘m just exhausted. I hope I start feeling better soon because I really don‘t feel like myself! 2mo
Cinfhen I‘m sorry you‘re so lethargic but your body really went through a major trauma and feeling tired is probably a good sign that you‘re healing!!! Thinking of you @Megabooks 😘and I‘m glued to this book! 2mo
62 likes3 stack adds7 comments
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ShyBookOwl
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Cozy on the couch with a book. The story itself is gripping, but the writing sometimes pulls me out of it. I find he uses a lot of plot devices to build suspense (eg. really short chapters that tend to end with a sensational cliffhanger line, like "BUT LITTLE DID HE KNOW..."). It's unnecessary, but I still can't put it down!

Christine Perfect cozy setup! ❤️ 2mo
ShyBookOwl @Christine yes! Got my cozy reading blanket and cozy reading sweater (also affectionately known as my grandpa sweater). I'm all set 😊 2mo
55 likes2 comments
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ShyBookOwl
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25 pages in and already having a strong reaction. When I read Ross's arguments for making all drugs legal, I cringe.

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britt_brooke
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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 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.

Cinfhen Great review!!! I‘m hooked!!!! It‘s BONKERS!!!!! On so many levels 2mo
britt_brooke @Cinfhen Thanks! It‘s a wild story. (edited) 2mo
Mdargusch So many great reviews for this book! It‘s next up for me on my NF TBR 👍🏼 1mo
britt_brooke @Mdargusch It‘s so good! One of my favorites this year. 1mo
94 likes4 stack adds4 comments
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Morr_Books
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Spent most of today audiobooking, since I decided to completely rearrange my bookshelves, which is turning into a much bigger project than anticipated. At least I finished the tagged book. Have a lot of reading to do tomorrow! #LitsyPartyofOne #24B4Monday #MrBook1inaMillion @MrBook @Alisnazzy @Andrew65 @jb72 @Rachel.Rencher @Lucas.Rencher @Lynnsoprano

MrBook It always turns out that way. 😆👏🏻🙌🏻 2mo
Andrew65 @MrBook You are right, it always does! 2mo
Bookwormjillk Love your shelves! 2mo
42 likes3 comments
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UnabridgedPod
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Pickpick

I downloaded Nick Bilton's American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road from Scribd hearing Sara rave about it, comparing it to Bad Blood, one of my favorite nonfiction books. Oh, was she ever right. American Kingpin centers on Ross Ulbricht, (continued in comments)

UnabridgedPod a libertarian who applies his views to an extreme degree when he begins the Silk Road, an online store where people can buy drugs and other illegal items. The journey that leads Ulbricht to begin the Silk Road, the way that he dives into the criminal underworld of the international black market, is something I could not stop thinking about. ⬇️ 3mo
UnabridgedPod ⠀ Ulbricht, who is seemingly mild mannered, refusing even to curse, somehow began a true double life in which he juggled these personae.

The other half of the book centers on the efforts of a variety of law enforcement agencies to investigate and shut down the Silk Road . . . and that adventure is just as captivating as the story of Ulbricht. ⬇️
3mo
UnabridgedPod I gasped at each new revelation from one of the investigators and then facepalmed when someone would refuse to share that new revelation with someone else because of a bizarre competitive streak among and between the agencies.⠀

Check out Sara's review (you can get there on meaningfulmadness.com and do yourself a favor and read (or listen to!) this book ASAP. Then, prepare to be amazed.
3mo
18 likes3 comments
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Bianca
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Here's to February being a much better reading month.

#litsypartyofone

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Christine
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Pickpick

This was great - an absorbing, well-written, (mostly) nonviolent true crime story. (Bonus: includes an extended scene of high drama in a library. 🤓❤️)

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Heatherfeather
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Pickpick

SO fascinating! Almost unbelievable...but rooted in crazy reality. I did find the narrative parts--where the author tried to fill in feelings and dialogue---um...cheesy? But the facts and the progression of the story are riveting. Also highly recommend the Casefile podcast episodes on this subject!

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everlocalwest
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Pickpick

So much that I did not know! This was a fascinating listen but yeah, I am continually stunned by the things people can justify to themselves and this case is a perfect portrait of that.

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kendrastephaniekaryn
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🌟🌟🌟🌟

Scurvygirl I listened to a podcast on this. So good. 2y
15 likes1 comment
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emileereads
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3/5 ⭐️

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Megabooks
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This book chronicles The Dread Pirate Roberts, leader of The Silk Road website and avowed extreme Libertarian, which definitely qualifies him as a #rebelrebel #septembowie

Marchpane Sounds like a fascinating read! 2y
Megabooks @Marchpane It was! My dad liked it too! 2y
Reviewsbylola I remember you posting about this before! I've been curious since then. (edited) 2y
Megabooks @Reviewsbylola It's a great piece of narrative nonfiction, if you like that! 2y
Reviewsbylola I do, so I definitely should read it. 2y
83 likes2 stack adds5 comments
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Kris10
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My July reads. American Kingpin was my favorite but I also loved Evelyn Hugo, One of Us is Lying, 11/22/63, and Final Girls!

MarriedtoMrT One of Us is Lying 👍 2y
Kris10 @MarriedtoMrT yes!! It was my second fav book!! 2y
40 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Kris10
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Holy moly this book is good! It's a non-fiction account of the rise and eventual fall of The Silk Road, an underground website where anyone can buy drugs, guns, organs, etc. 5 ⭐️

29 likes2 stack adds
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Kris10
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Spending the 4th with an American Kingpin. I'm halfway through and this book is great!

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Kris10
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What's on deck for #JulyTBR.

Hollie Wow! Looks like you have a fabulous month ahead! 3y
Kris10 I'm excited for them all! @hollie 3y
Megabooks Lots of good ones!! 3y
31 likes3 comments
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Drenton
Pickpick

A well written fascinating tale.

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Megabooks
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5🌟 if you're into narrative #nonfiction #audiobooks (looking at you @Cinfhen 😉), this is probably the second best I've ever listened to. The minute-by-minute account of his takedown nearly made my heart stop. Well researched, amazing book. In fact, probably some of the most thorough and thought-provoking journalism I've read! #nonfictionchallenge17

Cinfhen Thanks for thinking of me 😘😘it's been stacked but glad to hear audio is 👌🏽 3y
Reviewsbylola This sounds very fascinating. I like non fiction that introduces me to people or events I am unfamiliar with. 3y
Megabooks @Cinfhen Yes, if you can, audio is the way to go on this. 3y
Megabooks @Reviewsbylola Same here! And yes, this is fascinating. 3y
76 likes5 stack adds4 comments
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Megabooks
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TW in a spoiler tag.

Megabooks So I was in the shower, of all places, listening to these federal agents torture a man by trying to drown him. Sick fucks. For some reason I find that particular torture, especially perpetuated by federal agents, terrible. Maybe after all that water boarding it bothers me more. Anyway, I had to listen to it because I couldn't ff in the shower. 😢😢😢 3y
Megabooks I wanted dark, but maybe not that kind of dark. 3y
64 likes2 comments
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Megabooks
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Picked this up with an #audible credit based on @lettersfromriya 's recommendation! It sounds right up my alley. I'm not feeling much like reading a paper book tonight, so I'm going to try this instead of rotting my brain with bad reality TV! The psychiatrist adjusted my meds today so 🤞🏻🤞🏻 for better times soon.

NovelGirl82 I hope that helps! I hate that you're not feeling well. 3y
lettersfromriya I hope you enjoy the book and feel better, soon! 3y
Megabooks @NovelGirl82 Thanks, I hope it will!!! 💚 3y
Megabooks @lettersfromriya I'm enjoying it so far!! Thanks! 💜 3y
lettersfromriya I'm glad you are! 💚 3y
60 likes1 stack add5 comments
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lettersfromriya
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I'm listening to the audiobook. It's going great so far. Casey Neistat recommended it in his first 'bookclub' session on his vlogs. It's about the takedown of a drug mafia kind of person who created a website called The Silk road which used to be the Amazon of drugs a few years ago. You could buy anything from drugs to guns online and it would be delivered to you by regular postal service.
That's so sick. Genius. But sick.

What are you reading?

Cinfhen Stacking for hubby! Sounds like something he'd like to read! 3y
Megabooks I might have to pick this up! 3y
lettersfromriya @Booksandcooks it's a really good read! I'm already 50% through. 3y
lettersfromriya @Cinfhen I hope he likes it! I am. 3y
8 likes1 stack add4 comments
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ashleyv
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The Social Network meets The Wire and absolutely riveting from cover to cover!

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thatchrisblack
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It's 106 miles to Des Moines. We've got a full tank of gas, a half charged Kindle, it's bright out, and we're wearing shades.

Hit it.

(With apologies to The Blues Brothers.)

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tracyrowanreads
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Since I started ghosting thrillers I've been reading a lot more of this stuff. Eye-opening!