• Conspiracy

  • Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue
  • By: Ryan Holiday
  • Narrated by: Ryan Holiday
  • Length: 11 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 27-02-18
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio
  • 5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

Regular price: £28.89

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Summary

In the tradition of Janet Malcolm's The Journalist and the Murderer and Robert Greene's The 48 Laws of Power, author Ryan Holiday examines the case that rocked the media world - and the billionaire mastermind behind it 

In 2007, a short blogpost on Valleywag, the Silicon Valley vertical of Gawker Media, outed PayPal founder and billionaire investor Peter Thiel as gay. Thiel's sexuality had been known to close friends and family, but he didn't consider himself a public figure, and believed the information was private. 

This post would be the casus belli for a meticulously plotted conspiracy that would end nearly a decade later with a $140 million dollar judgment against Gawker, its bankruptcy and with Nick Denton, Gawker's CEO and founder, out of a job. Only later would the world learn that Gawker's demise was not incidental - it had been masterminded by Thiel. 

For years, Thiel had searched endlessly for a solution to what he'd come to call the "Gawker Problem". When an unmarked envelope delivered an illegally recorded sex tape of Hogan with his best friend's wife, Gawker had seen the chance for millions of page views and to say the things that others were afraid to say. Thiel saw their publication of the tape as the opportunity he was looking for. He would come to pit Hogan against Gawker in a multi-year proxy war through the Florida legal system, while Gawker remained confidently convinced they would prevail as they had over so many other lawsuit - until it was too late. 

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 the First Amendment? For privacy? For culture? 

In Holiday's masterful telling of this nearly unbelievable conspiracy, informed by 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. 

Some will cheer Gawker's destruction and others will lament it, but after listening to this audiobook - and seeing the access the author was given - no one will deny that there is something ruthless and brilliant about Peter Thiel's shocking attempt to shake up the world. 

©2018 Ryan Holiday (P)2018 Penguin Audio

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  • Robert Levin
  • 10-03-18

good story, bad narration

it was a compelling story but I found it hard to follow at times due to the way it was read.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • 11-03-18

Windy, Fancy Quotes, & A Contradictory Conclusion

A windy rendition, spiced up by throwing in quotes by famous people, about the back story of the Hulk Hogan case. It has many “stream of consciousness” passages about what people might be thinking and then about what other people may think about that, etc. It tries to be philosophic but contradicts its principles in a scree against President Trump criticizing him for advocating actions against NFL players who disrespected the National Anthem. However, he approves of the NFL ruling that would suspend players for having the flag on their cleats during 911 and for wearing blue ribbons on their helmets for the police who were slaughtered in Texas. Of course, Hillary lost the election because of an invisible right wing conspiracy. Obama, who authorized wiretapping of a political opponent, is said to always “go high”. He really has to follow the media ideology because, as he knows from the Gawker case, they would crush him without much effort.

He reads like he is drinking water out of a canteen. After every phrase, he stops to take a swig leaving the reader waiting for him to swallow and begin again.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Daniel
  • Daniel
  • 22-03-18

The last hour should have been dropped

This was a very interesting look at the Hogan, Thirl, Denton, Gawker story. I really don't know why the author went off on a Trump tangent in the last hour. Unnecessary to the story and came across as an excuse for him to virtue signal how he finds the "Alt Right", which apparently includes everyone to the right of Hillary Clinton is, appalling. That's fine, I really don't care what his opinions on that group are, I just found it attenuated to what is otherwise a very good book.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Alex
  • Alex
  • 09-04-18

Too long for the amount of material presented

What would have made Conspiracy better?

This book is way too long, and the story of Peter Thiel and Gawker is way too diluted with philosophical detours on conspiracies in general. I have a suspicion that Mr Thiel's conspiracy, an exciting story, would probably take two or three hours to tell, but the book is 11 hours... It almost feels like Mr Holiday tries to imitate the broad scope of Robert Greene books or Lawrence Freedman's Strategy. The problem is, Mr Greene and Dr Freedman discuss general principles with plenty of specific examples (Thiel's story would make a one-page example there), while Mr Holiday uses one major story to venture broadly in the matters of the strategy of conspiracy. The first such venture seems interesting, then it gets repetitive. Moreover, most of those ventures don't present anything paradigm changing; oftentimes, they reiterate common sense.
So to answer the question on what would make the story better - a good editor.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Mr Holiday found an interesting and relevant story, and presented a good collection of facts on it, interviewing both sides, etc. This is what's good about this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for B. Piehler
  • B. Piehler
  • 23-03-18

Rambling and political

The storyline is fascinating but the performance is terrible. It seems like Holiday repeats himself often while trying to make a point. In a bizarre twist he tries to tie Trump's presidency to Thiel's conspiracy. It is a stretch at best.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Austin Pierce
  • Austin Pierce
  • 01-03-18

One of his best

A book that literally only he could write. No one else could. A summation of his entire career.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Dustin white-morrison
  • 22-03-18

Great book until the end.

Had he ended it after the trial the book would have been amazing. But then he had to tear into trump to make some sort of point.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-04-18

Unnecessary

It certainly felt that the writer was contracted to produce more content than was actually necessary to tell this story. As one example of how this novel drags, the writer gets on his soapbox for the final two chapters in order to deliver a bizarre anti-Trump rant that he attempted to tie in, albeit very poorly, to the overall series of events.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Grant Hall
  • Grant Hall
  • 06-04-18

I almost couldn’t make it through...

Although I liked the content, the delivery by the author reading the book was terrible. His breathy cadence really annoyed me and many times I found myself thinking, just stop the madness now. This is a book that I would definitely need to listen to again simply because I am sure that I missed a lot due to the reader....but I will more than likely never listen to again because I just do not think I could stand to listen to the author reading it again.

Ryan, if you want to narrate your books - please take some lessons, get a coach, have someone help you edit the audio....something...but my main advice would be to stick to writing and let a professional narrator do the narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Joe Rensin
  • Joe Rensin
  • 27-03-18

Worst audio book ever

I was really excited to read the story, it is a fascinating conspiracy to avenge a wrong. The author wrote what is EASILY the worst book possible, and then to make it just a bit worse still, he narrates it in a monotone slow deliberate voice. Every sentence has a parenthetical to some obscure reference in ancient history.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful