American Kingpin

American Kingpin

The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road

Book - 2017
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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 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 anything -- drugs, hacking software, forged passports, counterfeit cash, poisons -- free of the government's watchful eye. It wasn't long before the media got wind of the new Web site where anyone -- not just teenagers and weed dealers but terrorists and black hat hackers -- could buy and sell contraband detection-free. Spurred by a public outcry, the federal government launched an epic two-year manhunt for the site's 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 himself -- including 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 weren't 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 author Nick Bilton offers a tale filled with twists and turns, lucky breaks and unbelievable close calls. It's a story of the boy next door's 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.
Publisher: New York, New York :, Portfolio/Penguin,, [2017]
ISBN: 9781591848141
Characteristics: xv, 329 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Dec 22, 2017

Absolutely 100% one of my favourite books of the year. American Kingpin is a nonfiction telling of the website Silk Road, its Creator, and the many government agencies trying to take it down. I would compare it to the HBO show The Wire, in the sense that you are being told the story from both the criminal and law enforcement point of view - and end up kind of rooting for 'characters' on both sides of the story! This book is truly fascinating, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in true crime.

Dec 09, 2017

I am also interested in the audiobook version.

Sep 27, 2017

Reads like a movie! Such an interesting book!

Sep 04, 2017

I thought it was an interesting fast paced read.
I'd never heard about this true crime story before, in which a guy used the dark web to set up an Amazon type of website to sell drugs, guns or anything illegal.

StevenOClark Aug 11, 2017

This is one wild, true story. Quite the page turner.

AL_HOLLYR Jul 05, 2017

An ultra-modern take on the true-crime thriller, Bilton's book is a fast-paced, deeply-researched narrative that traces the rise and fall of the Silk Road, an online black market.

Bilton does a masterful job of tracing the story from multiple perspectives, with each new view adding another layer of suspense. By the end I did tire of his often overly-dramatic chapter transitions, but the story does have more incredible twists and turns than one could possibly imagine.

May 10, 2017

A very well researched and fast-paced read-I could hardly put it down.

May 08, 2017

Please make the downloadable audiobook version available


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