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
You might also like:
Subscribe to Omnivoracious: The Amazon Book Review, featuring picks for the best books of the month, author interviews, reading recommendations, and more from the Amazon Books editors.