Book Review: American Kingpin

American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road by Nick Bilton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Drug traffickers go digital! What the 29 year old “Ross the Pirate” built in just 2 years will put Pablo Escobar to shame. That too did it from his bedroom in Austin, beaches in Sydney, cafes in San Francisco and used United States Postal Service to deliver his goods.

This is a classic case of person’s strong ideology taking over one’s identity. With misplaced ideals and extreme hunger for power, a person can go any length to carry on his mission.

One thing that amazes me is how secure today’s technologies are. Here is a guy with little programming background but smart enough to understand the power of Tor, PGP encryption and Bitcoin who built a drug cartel. More often than not, the weakest link is the human negligence, which led to his demise. If not, I would argue the technology would not have let him down.

This may not be the best book I have read, but author does a good job with his fast and crisp storytelling. It has many interesting characters. FBI, DEA, IRS, NYPD with their own heroes and all of them are entertaining.

If you are someone who wants to learn about the dark side of the internet aka ‘Dark Web’, what masks cybercriminals wear to work, this maybe a good start. The book could very well been a good crime novel. But this is a true story with real characters making it more interesting.

View all my reviews

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