Goodreads Book Blurb:
I was interested in the subject matter here but the writing let it down. Written as narrative non-fiction, there were just too many added details to make it believable. There’s a fine line to walk in books like this between journalistic integrity and an interesting story, unfortunately, it seems the author here chose the path of least resistance. This meant the story was easy to read but the important details in the case were glossed over in exchange for prose and story-telling.
For a book about the foundation and running of Silk Road, one of the first online marketplaces for illegal substances on the dark web to make use of Bitcoin, there were very few actual details about coding or the dark web or even technology or Bitcoin in general. The author made it seem like the founder, Ross Ulbricht, was a bumbling idiot who just managed to stumble upon creating this website. Then, in order to make it interesting, he had to make all the federal agents trying to find him either even bigger idiots or just corrupt, to make sure it explained why it took two years to find and arrest him.
With the numerous instances of imagined dialogue or thoughts, it was just too much. If Ross had contributed to the book, these situations would be different as it would have added some authenticity. Considering that neither Ross nor his family contributed, the author should have stuck to the facts. His own notes at the end of the book mention how much information he was allowed to peruse, he should’ve instead used the online chat logs to supplement his narrative rather than conjuring conversations from nothing.
In the end, this is an easy-to-read story, but it straddles the line between fiction and non-fiction – making this either boring fiction or poorly researched non-fiction depending on which side of the line you choose.
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