American Kingpin by Nick Bilton
People who enjoy investigative journalism told in narrative form.
In a nutshell:
A very Libertarian dude decides to make a statement and start a website that sells drugs. Things spiral. The federal government gets involved in multiple ways.
Why I chose it:
After listening to Bad Blood, I needed another audio book for my runs. Memoirs have been my go-to in this format, but I think they have been replaced, as it’s easy to stay invested when it’s essential real-life suspense. And bonus: the narrator for this book happened to be the same one, and I like his style, so double-win.
I was vaguely aware of the Silk Road website, where people could buy and sell drugs and other contraband, but I had no idea about the story behind it. And OH MY GOD is it absurd. Like, this young guy with very specific ideals who is desperate to be successful in some realm just .. Starts a site. And it blows up to the point that it is doing hundreds of thousands of dollars of business a week.
The story alternates among a few major players: the site’s founder, two different homeland security inspectors, the FBI, and an IRS agent. The personalities are strong and interesting. Some people make horrible decisions. Some people make good decisions. And I yell “Are you KIDDING ME?” at least every 15 minutes. I felt like I was listening to a suspense novel, and then had to remind myself that this was real life.
If the whole Theranos situation has you intrigued, I think you’ll find this an interesting read as well.
Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it: