Fasten Your Seat Belts for AMERICAN KINGPIN

american kingpinThis week’s Igloo Book Buzz selection is Nick Bilton’s AMERICAN KINGPIN: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, “the unbelievable true story of the man who built a billion-dollar online drug empire from his bedroom—and almost got away with it.” Portfolio published the book on May 2, and Mr. Bilton reveals, ”I’ve been covering technology for over 15 years, writing about the infighting at Twitter, the deceit at Theranos, billionaires lying and stabbing their co-founders in the back, government hackers, and the vast societal effects of everything from driverless cars to drones.

“Yet when I set out to report AMERICAN KINGPIN, I had no idea how scandalous the story would become. To me, I thought it was just setting out to the tale of an overly-ambitious kid from Texas who had lost his way.  It quickly became clear that this book was about so much more, encompassing stories of cops turning into bad guys, of murders commissioned on the Internet, guns, drugs, poisons and the potential sale of body parts on the Silk Road website, and of hundreds of millions of dollars in digital currencies. In the end, the story is without question the most terrifying and inconceivable I have ever worked on.”

Nick Bilton

Nick Bilton

Portfolio Editorial Director Niki Papadopoulos, who edited the book, says, “I knew that Nick Bilton was a phenomenal writer from working with him on Hatching Twitter, his first book with Portfolio. So my expectations were already high. But I still wasn’t prepared for the manuscript he delivered for AMERICAN KINGPIN. I read it overnight and was late to the office the next day–I couldn’t put it down, even though from conversations with my author I already knew how it was going to end! What makes this book exceptional is what isn’t in it. Nick conducted thousands of hours of research and analyzed two million words that Ross left behind him. Obviously not all of that material could make it into the final manuscript, and so the choices Nick made of what to include and how were paramount. I think he made the right ones, and all the enthusiastic early reads we’ve had confirm that hunch.”

AMERICAN KINGPIN has been generating a lot of buzz in the media and the author community. Here is sampling of the praise:


  • “Engrossing… Bilton writes in a breezy, colloquial style … A fast-paced, readable true-crime tale that frames the likely future of the underground economy.”  –Kirkus Reviews


  • “Cinematic… a page turner with a clever (and subversive) framing.”  — Bloomberg Businessweek


  • “AMERICAN KINGPIN is both a staggering feat of investigative journalism and a triumph of edge-of-your-seat storytelling. This is what true-crime writing should be.”
    —Bryan Burrough, author of Days of Rage


  • “In AMERICAN KINGPIN, Nick Bilton again proves why he’s one of tech’s best storytellers with a stunningly researched and very scary portrait of the creator of a marketplace gone mad, and the oddly uncoordinated officers who took him down.”
    —Steven Levy, author of Hackers and In the Plex


Posted: May 3, 2017