American Kingpin – Ross Ulbricht and the Silk Road


American Kingpin – by Nick Bilton, ~325 pages (2016)

What I liked about this book

This story is based on the life of a young man, Ross Ulbricht, who makes use of the “Dark Web” to launch the biggest online provider of illicit drugs to the world. He sets it up as a discreet, “untraceable” site that is accessed through a special browser access – purported to be out of the FBI’s line of sight.

The plot is very descriptive and the author has a unique writing style:  he pens short chapters (3-5 pages) in succinct nuggets to keep the story moving along at a fierce pace throughout.  This is a smart strategy because it prevents any downtime or boredom in the on the reader’s end.

What I disliked about this book

I couldn’t get over the selfishness of the main character.  It’s amazing to think that someone could be so careless with his life – while also being so dismissive of the powers of U.S. federal law enforcement. That said, his chutzpah is amazing in how he puts his blinders on and sticks to his mission. He does this despite risking the stiffest consequences possible – the remainder of his very young life spent rotting in a prison cell. Unbelievable.

To whom would I recommend this book

Limit to adults over the age of 18.  This book is filled with drug references (since that is the point of the book), and contains other adult content that makes it unsuitable for minors. Otherwise, it is a very interesting, pertinent and unique story.  It’s easy to feel like the reader wants to “pinch oneself” with respect to believing someone actually thought they could live this story and actually emerge on the other end a free person. I guess we really do learn something new every day.

Any thoughts?