American Kingpin reads like a thriller. It is the engrossing true story of a man who built the biggest illegal website in the world. The book talks about Ross Ulbricht and his Silk Road website, the people who helped him make it, and the people who ultimately brought him down. It is also the story of a dogged investigator and two agents who broke the law, influenced by Ross and greed.
Nick Bilton tells a compelling story. You can tell that he did his homework. The book is narrative nonfiction and that, with the obviously meticulous research he did, makes this book a great read.
I am on the internet a lot. Facebook, email, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads. And I Google everything I’m curious about. But I knew nothing about the dark web and the Silk Road until I read this book. On the Silk Road you can buy virtually any drug you desired, including heroin and fentanyl. You could buy fake ids. You could buy guns. Without the watchful eye of big brother and tax free. The site operated using bitcoin as its currency. Though the site started small, it got so huge, its founder, Ross (or The Dark Pirate Roberts) almost a billionaire. We are introduced to Julia, Ross’ long-suffering girlfriend; Variety Jones, Ross’s right-hand man; Agent Force of the DEA, who got too far undercover; IRS investigator Gary Alford; an intrepid FBI agent and a crooked FBI agent. The supporting actors are sometimes more interesting that Ross. But the story is all about a young Ph.D. flunkie developed the biggest illicit items website in the world.
This book was compelling and entertaining. I can’t think of any complaints I have about the book. The story is expertly plotted and told so well, I didn’t want the book to end. If you are interested in computers, true crime, or just a really good story, you will like this book. I highly recommend it.
I won this book and received no compensation in exchange for this review. The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.