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Jordan

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Overrated beyond words

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-09-19

I heard Chris Hedges talk about this book so much, it was an essential to read, and I almost felt like an obligation. When I listened to this book, good lord. The person reading it sounds like a sarcastic grandfather exasperated with every single sentence, or a monotone zombie counting down the hours until the contract expires.

And as for the book, it's such deadening repetition, and so obvious, any point is lost because it is so excruciatingly, and painfully boring. I would sooner have several root canals back to back than listen to even a paragraph of Wolin's whiney, self-referential, pseudo-intellectual guff again.

11-hour biblical battering-ram to the head

Overall
1 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-09-19

Martin Luther King was such a wonderful man, and his labour strikes are what enamoured me to him. But this book, my goodness, really was an ordeal to get through. It was like having a bible repeatedly, and painfully rammed down my throat relentlessly. For long stretches of time, you realise just how poorly the bible and Christianity has served the African American communities so affected by racism - it lumbers people who have an absolute right to justice with absolutely addling garbage that tells people to submit to a god and pray their way to justice. Love your enemy but stand your ground and gain equality through action! All power, to all the people.

So much of this book is just an excuse to inject biblical babble into simple concepts. Racism is bad because we're all human, and skin colour, just like class, is abstract and meaningless. Labour rights are important because everyone deserves fairness. Quite easy to express no?

This book expresses those two simple concepts with the word "JESUS" so many times, you want to take Cornel West and ram a bible up his behind sideways. You want my support and solidarity against class, racism, capitalism, inequality, injustice - you will always have it and I will never tire of your eloquence. You want my ear when you're talking about racism and class, inequality and greed? You have it, you're wonderful. You want to wax lyrical about JHAYYYSUUSSS for hours on end? Take a hike!

Honestly, I love Cornel West and the rest, but after hearing 11 hours of absolute biblical rubbish I put this book down, deleted it off my phone, and I will never, ever, read it again. What a bunch of complete drivel.

Brilliantly-written mean-spirited garbage

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-09-19

I really enjoyed this book. It was exceptionally well written, it was paced perfectly, personalities were well-rounded and the story was well researched to some extent. However, there's something extremely alarming about this book which hits you as soon as it's finished - the author has hold of the establishment narrative on drugs and drug laws, and the key concepts of why Ross Ulbricht did what he did, are absolutely strangled out of existence with an overbearing ignorance of Ross' views, and also, an extremely mean-spirited view of Ross' life.

The author speaks with a laughably self-conscious commentary as though he is a billionaire philanderer who fell face-first into a bucket of success and cash, and who wrote the book in-between his quest as the modern day Alexander The Great. He sneers at almost every aspect of Ross' life and never fails to write mean-spirited quips about his appearance, his love-life, his lack of success in business ventures (which is somewhat dubious).

Many of these extremely negative and personal attacks on Ross are immediately contradicted as soon as we get into the remainder of the story - at first he describes Ross as a loser who should have just clung to the sidewalk like a pile of excrement, who was cheated on and a complete loser at life - but as this book continues with this commentary, something becomes extremely apparent: the author seemingly despises the average man and his foibles.

And it's very obvious - the author has spent so much time with his lips welded to the rear of the wealthy, that his hatred of working-class folks like Ross; with loves and losses, an average life, struggling to escape a life as a highly-educated barista or retail worker in an economy rapidly becoming degrading for most.

Ross is absolutely emblematic of most working people in America - trying and struggling to remain above water, and yet every aspect of what is extremely common in this broken world, is a major point of contention to Bilton. Ulbricht's characteristics of thrift, passion and action in a political world of apathy, dedication to learning and reading in the age of BuzzFeed and low-attention-spans, refusal to spend his riches on anything ostentatious or gaudy (except $1 million for assassinations), are all thrown underneath Bilton's establishment juggernaut.

Ulbricht's parents have derided this book as being a public hanging, and essentially they are correct. It is absolutely a salient point in this book to discuss that Ross was an idealistically-driven person who undoubtedly was corrupted by his consigliere into becoming a mere criminal with ideals and ultimately the commissioner of several murders, but there is absolutely ZERO discussion of Ross' position, or even any acknowledgment that despite Ross' awful and extremely immoral behaviour, it is far preferable to have places where harm is reduced, and in which people can buy drugs, than to simply stick with what has gone before, and continue to allow harm.

It was estimated that 20% of purchases were going through the Silk Road; that's 20% of deals which occurred with arguably far less violence and harm. The model that Ulbricht had of simply "everything is permitted" was absurd and an artefact of libertarian views, but again - any discussion of this, extremely salient fact, the very reason for the creation of the website - is resolutely ignored.

Not only this, but the perspective of the purveyors of the war on drugs is reflected as a breathless and non-stop fawning, in a world in which, aside from these two "bad apples", law enforcement and drug agencies are the most devoted, unbiased, and wonderful human beings to ever grace the earth. Any criticism of them, or even Ross' criticisms of them, is also bulldozed by Bilton's cast-iron desire to pay hardcore homage to the establishment, to the extent it makes you wonder if he went to biblical lengths of rending his garments every time they failed to capture Ulbricht.

It's not to be said that Ulbricht's failures shouldn't be put out for all to see, and they are. He was responsible for harm, albeit FAR LESS than the harm that occurs right now without the use of drug markets, several of which offer testing kits with drugs to help reduce harm and also which offers safety information. Regardless of that fact, those who died did die as a consequence, and Ross was involved with violent people and commissioned violent acts. But even in reporting these, Bilton worships heavily at the altar of "just say no" (which since that point he has, in interviews, very disingenuously argued for the war on drugs being a disaster) and neoliberal nonsense - and essentially writes the entire story in favour of the DEA, FBI and CIA, and of course the NSA.

There are some huge questions simply left out about how Ross was caught, and even worse, about the consequences to democracy and harm reduction felt right now due to resolute ignorance of a view of harm reduction.

The obvious nonsense about "CAPTCHA leaking" the IP address made it clear to many that the FBI had turned to the anti-democratic agency du-jour, the NSA, to illegally capture where his server was. And it's extremely clear that was the case, others have suggested, that - the FBI and others struggled, and turned to the NSA. And then with a hey-presto and a hoop-te-doo and massive invasion of rights, they found where the server was.

And this is the failure of the book. None of the salient ideology that Ross discussed is addressed, none of the MANY criticisms of the FBI, CIA, NSA and DEA are present in any way whatsoever. And it's a shame because it was thoroughly entertaining, but at the same time extremely gauling because Bilton could not have pressed his lips closer to the rear of the establishment if he tried.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Fascinating

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-06-19

I really liked this book, as there are many questions that still loom large in my mind about anarchism and efficiency, as well as its larger role in societal transformation.

A corrupt party, doing corrupt things.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-06-18

The DNC and the Democrats are past caring about the needs and ideas of the working class, and instead have entered a new era of not only corruption but sheer ignorance about the plight of the working class, and this book shows that not only is the DNC not at all a liberal party, or even a left party, or even a center party - it is just a corporate party that will do and say anything it wishes to gain more power, regardless of it it's true or not.

Bernie Sanders is a good man, and the Democrats are the most corrupt political party America has had for a VERY long time.

Life-changing book

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-06-18

The book is essentially, what I have now come to understand, a kind of adjunct of attachment theory. That said though, Hari's style is just so intoxicating, and the book is an absolutely amazing experience. It's definitely life changing, had a lot of insights that changed how I think about mental health completely, and I think it's just - incredible!

Don't read any more, just get it. It's incredible.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Personal minutia overshadowing interesting detail

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 31-10-17

The parts about air crashes are very well informed, and well written, and provide clear and interesting insights into what drives the FAA, NTSB and others, but far, far, far too much of this book is mired in unnecessary personal detail, which is almost unrelenting in its length. I think at least 2/3 of this book is simply an elaboration of personal details which I have absolutely no interest in whatsoever.

The information about how the institutions work, their flaws, and the flaws of profit-driven civil aviation are interesting, but I know far too much about David Soucie's personal life. He had a crappy car, he was trying to paint and decorate a bedroom for his wife, various ancillary details about friends and family, how it's like moving house, life in Hawaii, how he admired some other helicopter pilot that helped out with a hotel fire, and on and on it goes to an uncanny degree.

The book could have cut out 80% of the personal detail and briefly explained why he got into the FAA: "I worked in the aviation industry as a mechanic, then a manager, and had some ethical wrangles when a friend of mine died due to the lack of wire-strike kits on the front of the helicopter." After an extended foray into the minutia of someone's various jobs and relationships, the book becomes eminently more readable, more interesting and well paced.

Moving, thoughtful, and a new shield and sword.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-07-17

i loved this book. it gave me hope, made me laugh and shed the odd tear, but most importantly it is like getting a huge boost of experience I can use in my career.