American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road
Author: Nick Bilton
Number Of Pages: 352
Release Date: 2017-05-02
Details: NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER. 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 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 New York Times bestselling 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. Filled with unforgettable characters and capped by an astonishing climax, American Kingpin might be dismissed as too outrageous for fiction. But it’s all too real.An Amazon Best Book of May 2017: The Silk Road was once an ancient trade route through Asia, but in 2011 an idealistic young man named Ross Ulbricht used the moniker for a new enterprise that the internet age had never seen; A Dark Web site where everything from drugs and guns to passports could be bought and sold—this was the new Silk Road. Ulbricht was an extreme libertarian who never imagined his revolutionary new free market enterprise would become a billion dollar empire, or that he would be sought by multiple agencies of law enforcement over the coming years. American Kingpin takes us back in time, from Ulbricht’s early failures to becoming Dread Pirate Roberts, the name he adopted to hide himself online. We see how a small pink pill in an anonymous envelope caught the eye of a low-level Homeland security employee and became the catalyst for Federal agency power struggles, and cops who became criminals over the course of a massive manhunt for someone they weren’t even sure existed. The cast of characters involved, those who Ulbricht enlisted to aid him and those who worked to bring him down are a fascinating mix of personalities, but none more so than Dread Pirate Roberts himself. American Kingpin is addictive reading, and whether or not you are already familiar with the Silk Road, by the time this book ends you will likely want to know even more about the Dark Web and the legacy of the world’s largest online retailer of illegal goods. --Seira Wilson, The Amazon Book Review
Package Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches