American Kingpin by Nick Bilton

American Kingpin

The unbelievable true story of the man who built a billion-dollar online drug empire from his bedroom--and 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 anything--drugs, hacking software, forged passports, counterfeit cash, poisons--free of the government's watchful eye. It...

Details American Kingpin

TitleAmerican Kingpin
Release DateMay 2nd, 2017
GenreNonfiction, Crime, True Crime, Mystery, Biography, History

Reviews American Kingpin

  • Ryan Shaw
    I don't have the energy or will to write an actual review but I will say this: I started the book and then I finished the book. There may have been a bathroom break in there but this book had me from beginning to end.
  • Olivier Schreiber
    Ross's mother wrote the following:A book called American Kingpin by Nick Bilton claims to be the “unbelievable true story” of my son, Ross Ulbricht. After reading an online adaptation, I agree: It’s unbelievable.Just the headline and subhead demonstrate the hyperbole, sensationalism and inaccuracy of this coverage:It calls the case a “murder mystery,” yet no murders occurred.The Silk Road was not a “billion-dollar enterprise.” The g...
  • Andrew Smith
    Ross Ulbricht, born in Texas in 1984, is a libertarian and one of his staple beliefs is that people should be able to put into their bodies whatever they wish, including any type of drug they choose. To this end, he believes that the sale of drugs should be decriminalised. So it’s probably not that surprising that this highly educated individual (bachelor’s degree in physics and masters degree in materials science and engineering) would be at...
  • Ammar
    This book that reads like a thriller is pure joy and information. The author did a great job creating all the events based on primary documents and interviews with the people who took down The Silk Road.An adventure into the dark web, Tor, drugs, murders, an all you can buy from illegal bazaar. Ross Ulbricht the mastermind behind this massive network of drugs and other activities is hunted down by an array of government services and agents. His l...
  • Dino-Jess ✮ The Book Eating Dinosaur ✮
    I have a confession to make.....I had never heard of the black market website Silk Road until sometime last year. When an interpretation of the site was featured on Mr Robot's second season, my friend sent me a message that said "DPR!" with no other explanation. When I mentioned that I didn't know what he was referring to, he sent me to this wonderful article that helped bring me up to speed. And from then on, I was fascinated with this story. Wh...
  • Virginia
    A thrilling tale of the modern crime world that is so insane you couldn't make any of it up! Following the steps of Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind The Silk Road, and the law enforcement agents out to stop him, you get an incredible insight into the cyber criminal world and how it's evolving. You also get to see how law enforcement departments both help and hinder each other as well as how easy it is to blur the line between what is legal or...
  • SAM
    "The Silk Road, after all, was just the platform - no different from Facebook or Twitter or Ebay - on which users communicated and exchanged ideas and currency. So who was DPR to err on the side of anything but yes? It wasn't as if twitter dictated what kind of opinions people could and could not write in the little box at the top of the screen. If you wanted to spew brilliance or idiocy in 140 characters, then so be it. It was your God-given rig...
  • Jillian Doherty
    Holy awesome read batman!!If you like literary story telling that just happens to be a roller coaster of legit events~ you'll love this too! It has every element of a good narrative, while being able to google all the characters and timelines = story happiness!
  • Jess
    It reads like it was written by a 16 year old who had to come up with something quickly for their English homework. So cliche and plays into so many stereotypes! I really wanted to get on with this book and had expectations due to the other reviews on here but ended up very disappointed.
  • Chuck
    5-starsWow! This one really pisses me off, but it’s a marvelous read. What a shame that more nonfiction isn’t written in this style. This is the can't-miss book of the year, for sure. Guaranteed.
  • Oscar Calva
    "Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism." - Carl Jung "Most of the people on this site are just nerds," he said. "They're not ruthless drug lords." - Jared Der-Yeghiayan, DOHS special agentI remember when news started to pop some years ago about that dark web site "The Silk Road" a black market for drugs, guns, and all things illegal trade (highly sensationalized news indeed). That was th...
  • Matthew Murray
    This book is another reason why I don't read fiction anymore. Crazy story.
  • Nasser Salah
    Ross Ulbricht, great man with a vision. libertarian he was. Sure. he wanted to make money. That was the libertairian way. But he wanted to free poeple too. There were millions of souls crammed into jails across the country because of drugs. mostly inconsequential drugs like weed and magic mushrooms. A vile and putrid prison system kept those people locked away; lives destroyed because the government wanted to tell people what they could and could...
  • Paul ataua
    I was really looking forward to finding out more about the whole Silk Road story, but even after a few pages of this I knew I would have to look elsewhere to get a more informed picture. The telltale signs were there from the beginning when the author, telling of minor incidents five or ten years earlier, was able to add the exact moment in the sentence when someone batted her eyelids or when someone scratched his nose, and exactly what he was th...
  • Kathleen
    Bilton is a Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair where he often writes about technology, and is the author of Hatching Twitter. His experience in being able to present complicated internet technology concepts in a form understandable to the average reader proved to be invaluable in writing about the Silk Road and its founder, Ross Ulbricht. Ulbricht lived on the Dark Web, using the browser Tor that provides anonymity for its users, and the crypt...
  • Sam Soffes
    I really enjoyed this book. A fair amount of it takes place a few minutes from where I live. Imagining the events unfolding in places I pass through everyday put me there as it was happening.After listening to this book, it makes me want to go build something amazing and change the world. I realize that may not be the proper takeaway.American Kingpin is fascinating story expertly told. Highly recommend.
  • Katherine Coble
    The first half of the book was intriguing and fast paced. Then it got bogged down. Bilton keeps trying to find ways to make the story interesting but instead mires it in unnecessary detail. I didn't need to read 1500 words describing a run-down house in Utah where some drug dealer had a package delivered.
  • PiRAT
    TL;DR: - Author tries to masquerade old tropes as a pitiful excuse for what happened with the silk road. If this was classed as a fiction, not making reference to the real Silk Road or Ross, then maybe, 2/3 stars? As a mediocre crime drama, idk, I don't really read that type of stuff.As it is classed as NON-fiction though, it is an unforgivable, cast iron 1 star, maybe 0. It just fundamentally is wrong about a great many things. The most truly pa...
  • Charlene
    I knew from Chapter One that I was going to love this book. Having previously read Bilton's Hatching Twitter created high hopes and Bilton did not dissipoint! Immediately addicted, I was worried that I was going to blow through this book in the first day. The thought of not having it to savor each day was depressing because finding a book this exciting is a rarity. I tried so hard to make this book last, promising myself to only listen to the aud...
  • Roy
    Really enjoyed this. A historical account of the online drug empire known as The Silk Road. Its written in that fiction style whilst allowing the true story to unfold. Not sure if all the facts presented are true but it makes for entertaining reading. Could definitely see Hollywood making this into a feature film.
  • Mark Yellis
    Remember the Silk Road website? Remember Dread Pirate Roberts? Do you? If so, you will find this well researched account of a young libertarian who became the most notorious criminal in the world over a stretch of a few years quite fascinating.I memba!
  • Tangled N Books
    Read by TinaReading a non-fiction novel was not a 2017 goal of mine. I happen upon the title when going through an email list of recommended readings I received from audible. What luck! It's captivating. Engrossing. Thrilling. It is almost like reading a real life story of Heisenburg! What a way to start the month of July!Unbeknownst to Ross Ulbricht, the creator of a small startup website known as the Silk Road, he became the Kingpin on the dark...
  • Nadia
    It's amazingly well-written book -- it's real story but is so well written that it's being read like a fiction. Although there were so many different federal agents on the case that some times I got lost who is who. :) Even more than Ross's story it was interesting to read about kitchen wars between different US agencies and even different branches of the same agency and to think about how easier it would have been if they cooperated instead of t...
  • Gabe
    I started this after listening to the first Silk Road episode on the CaseFile podcast, which piqued my interest. After reading a slew of true crime books (related to serial killers), I needed a palate cleanser. I finished this book in two days. I enjoyed the writing style of Bilton, the detailed research, and overall story. I would recommend for those that want a light (relatively), fun read.
  • James Cobo
    Absolutely captivatingI thought I was familiar with the story of the rise and fall of the Silk Road, but Nick Bilton took the story a million times further than I had expected it to go. The underlying narrative is inherently technical, but it's told so well that it feels like reading a story about how bureaucracy works and how technical semantics can actually be hugely important. I unreservedly recommend this book to anyone reading this review; i...
  • John Tyson
    Reads like a novel. Fun and easy. Some of the sh*t that Ross Ulbricht got up to as “Dread Pirate Roberts” is unbelievable! Also, having some intel on the Silk Road probably ups your street cred.
  • Nisha D
    This book was sooooo gooood! I felt like I really understood the different characters and their motivations. I highly recommend it for people who are interested in crime dramas (which I'm usually not) or for people who enjoy a well written, well researched book.
  • Suhel Banerjee
    Have been a Nick Bilton fan since reading Hatching Twitter a few years back, and if he could bring that sense of drama, tension, and excitement in a book about a 'regular' Silicon Valley startup with many corporate restructuring, I couldn't wait to see what he would do with the greatest online drug story in history. He didn't disappoint. In fact he raised the bar.Tracing Ross Ulbicht's life all the way from the time as a precocious kid in Texas, ...
  • Chris
    A great read, thoroughly researched and convincingly told. It illuminates the insightful idea but also the confounding shortcomings of Mr. Ulbricht, who was driven by idealism but ended up lost in hubris, which eventually brought him down.