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Summary

In 2016, one of the giants of modern journalism fell: Gawker Media, infamous for saying what other outlets wouldn't say, was sued for publishing Hulk Hogan's sex tape, lost the case and went bust. After countless other lawsuits it seemed that Gawker had finally run out of luck. But luck had nothing to do with it.

Peter Thiel, PayPal founder and billionaire investor, had masterminded the whole thing. Still furious at an article that had outed him 10 years previously, and increasingly disgusted at Gawker's unscrupulous reporting methods, Thiel had spent nearly a decade meticulously plotting a conspiracy that would lead to the demise of Gawker and its founder, Nick Denton. After a multiyear proxy war through the Florida legal system, the settlement of $140 million in favour of Hogan ended it. The verdict would stun the world, and so would Peter's ultimate unmasking as the man who had set it all in motion. Why had he done this? How had no one discovered it? What would this mean - for free speech? For privacy? For culture?

In Holiday's masterful telling of this nearly unbelievable conspiracy, informed by exclusive interviews with all the key players, this case transcends the narrative of how one billionaire took down a media empire or the current state of the free press. It's a study in power, strategy, and one of the most wildly ambitious - and successful - secret plots in recent memory.

©2018 Ryan Holiday (P)2018 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Thrilling!! Amazing story masterly told!

If this was Ryan’s debut book of this genre! I cannot wait for the ones that will follow!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Patrick
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 06-03-18

very disappointing end to mostly excellent read

absolutely excellent book of Holidays, when he sticks to journalism he is unrivalled. I thoroughly enjoyed this book until his political Trump Derangement syndrome views leaked in and ruined it. Unnecessary and unwanted commentary on what was a mostly excellent story.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Somewhat over ambitious, okay

This book is a description of the way the Hulk Hogan case was fought and won, and how (and why) it was financed.

I would have liked more about the actual case in court, but perhaps that was not in itself very interesting. The courtroom itself zips by.

It was interesting, but it felt very padded. Could have said as much in half as many words. My fault maybe for buying the unabridged version.

The author tries hard to use the case to say something about the nature of conspiracies, but that seems like a huge reach throughout and I was profoundly unconvinced.

The narrator didn't use enough inflection for me. Every sentence seemed to be read with the same gradually reducing pitch.

I bail on bad audio books very quickly but I listened to this until the end so it can't have been that bad.

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Highly recommended

Such a well written and researched book. I knew the story before but it flows like a thriller mixed with amazing insight. This is one of those books I will talk about a lot and will recommend to others.

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A rare treat

Initially was put off by the delivery but once you settle in I can't imagine anyone else but the author reading. A fantastic tale, even if the overall thesis is a bit of a reach

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great book by Holiday for holiday.

great exploration of the moral, practical, and historical use of conspiracy. Holiday wrote with insight and fluidity.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Delivery lets it down

This is a competently written insight into the fascinating decade long conspiracy to take down a media empire. However the audiobook is severely let down by the decision too allow the author Ryan Holiday to perform the reading. Typically I enjoy authors reading their work as the tend to provide additional insight, but this is certainly not the case here. Holiday reads like a child struggling through an unfamiliar text. The paused and emphasis are bizarre and disjointed. I tried playing at 1.5 speed which did improve delivery somewhat but this performance should have never been allowed to make it past a publisher.

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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting but told too slowly

If you enjoy good narration then you will not enjoy this book. You will frequently find your self repeating sentences in your mind with the emphasis placed in the correct place. Disappointing given that it is narrated by the author.

It is an interesting story but it could be told in 4 hours rather than over 10!

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

As [insert famous person] once said...

A Rolling Stone article dredged out into novel length.

As Winston Churchill famously said before the MPs in the House of Commons “a book half comprised of pointless quotations and comparisons is not worth the extra effort to read compared to a quick half hour scan on Wikipedia”.

Add to this the hubris of Holiday to read this himself, a man so chronically nasal, with little sense of verbal timing, makes the whole book a slog fest.

And no Holiday, you’re wrong, the infamous tape is easy to find on the internet. Nothing ever gets truly deleted, which is a real shame when you think about it.

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  • MR
  • 17-04-18

Great story, needs a professional to narrate

I’ve really enjoyed this book but, 60% of the way through I’m finding it hard going because the one-note, oddly hectoring yet emotionless narration is really grating.

Ryan Holiday is a talented and engaging writer and I’ve heard him speak well in other media, but his narration of his own work is something he really needs to work on as it is distractingly not good. It detracts from his work, which is a huge shame.

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  • gottimw
  • 14-08-18

Interesting book, recommended despite voice acting

Interesting story that will make you think hard who is right and who is a bad guy.

But me holidays narration is abysmal. Monotonous and badly paced like he is reading it for the first time and sometimes has to stitch in the rest of the sentence. Next time maybe hire a profesional VA.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Traian
  • 21-07-18

Ryan Holiday's reading style ruined the book for m

He pauses in the middle of sentences. Difficult to listen because of this. I enjoyed the story though and the insiggt into Peter Thiel's thinking.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • RMR
  • 18-04-18

Great story, weak performance.

I’m Ryan’s greatest fan but he read his other books sooooo much better than he read this one.

It was like he broke the whole book into two or three word phrases in an annoying rhythm instead of speaking freely in full sentences like in his other books.

The book is good enough to compensate, but his normal cool and relaxed accent is missing.

I hate slamming one of my hero’s but I hope it is taken constructively.

Epic story and brilliant angle. The subject of the book is not either party or the gossip but the use of conspiracy as a weapon. It is totally inspired.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Stephen Schoenberg
  • 26-03-18

Much to think about, but much unsaid

The best thing about this book is that it will make you think about a lot of issues. The story at its core is quite fascinating, and I appreciated the historical connections made by the author. I think that Holiday's "Tell 'em what you are going to tell 'em, tell 'em, and tell 'em what you told 'em" style detracted from the story: Michael Lewis would have made it more compelling. The book troubled me in the days after I read it, for the things it did not say. First, the book is a very sad commentary on the US "Justice" System, which seems to be more a complex auction than a tool of justice.
The more troubling aspect is that Holiday seems to have been captured by his subject Thiel. He clearly spent some time with Thiel and did not regain the distance to be objective. Holiday barely seems to note that Thiel wants to avenge his loss of privacy, while leading a company that seeks to violate everyone's privacy. Indeed, the real difference between Gawker and Thiel is that Gawker made their discoveries public, while Thiel sells your secrets to the rich and powerful. The recent scandals about Facebook show Thiel's DNA in that company's approach to user's data as well. Finally, Holiday seems too struck with Thiel's intellectual depth to point out that his fondness for Ayn Rand does not comport with that view.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • jaxx Morgan
  • 20-03-18

A balanced tale of patience, perseverance and pride

Holiday strikes the perfect tone of inquiry and investigation as he details Peter Thiel’s ten year takedown of Nick Denton and the Gawker empire. His story examines both sides of each man’s hubris and arrogance. With personal access to Thiel and Denton, Holiday steps us through a decade of bad behavior that results in a remarkable lack appreciation for the nature of consequences.

An easy listen and a compelling story for our times.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rodney
  • 14-03-18

Great insight

Book examined the inner workings on the entire Gawker trial. Because Holiday worked with all the parties, it gave an in-depth look into the whole case from start to finish. Great book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Colin
  • 13-03-18

Amazing

The story by itself is incredibly compelling but Ryan Holiday masterfully weaves the strategy and philosophy behind conspiracies into the story.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Just trying to help
  • 11-03-18

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

The story was interesting. The book could have been half the size. A lot of filler.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Tzin
  • 08-03-18

Wow!!

Great book detailing the underground war that took down the outrageous yet feared celebrity blog site Gawker. Ryan Holiday masterfully weaves together an intriguing tale with modern and ancient parallels!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • AudreyLM
  • 03-03-18

Great story

Any additional comments?

It's a great piece of research but the author should not be reading his own books. Very distracting.