Conspiracy

Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue
Narrated by: Ryan Holiday
Length: 11 hrs and 39 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (77 ratings)

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Publisher's 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

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Ryan Holiday takes an interesting story and makes it about him and draws it out

The story is fantastic, the characters are great but the writing is waffling. Full of repetition.

The narration is like this.

He wanted. To receive. The news. But on this. Day. The news. Was not. To be. Found.

Frustrating to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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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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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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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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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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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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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Great story

Any additional comments?

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

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  • Em&Me
  • 02-15-20

An incredible story poorly told.

I’m going to start by saying that this book is a very well researched, thoughtful and nuanced retelling of a fascinating true story.

The problems for me are twofold; Ryan Holiday (the author) narrates this book. As skilled as Holiday is as a writer his speech on this title is monotone, pauses in odd places and sounds robotic, so much so that I would have sent this back unfinished if it weren’t for the fact that the story itself is relevant and engaging.

My second frustration with this listen is that Holiday makes dozens and dozens of references to other situations, politicians, writers and historical events. Among many others the references are as diverse as the writing of Sun Tzu, many former presidents, military strategy of WW2 and so many more. Whilst I do understand the importance of ensuring that a true story is both relevant and placed within a historical context there are so many references here that they become an unwelcome distraction, as a reader it felt that I was being patronised too - that Holiday assumes the reader/listener wouldn’t be able to form connections, inferences and conclusions independently. Much of it was unnecessary padding.

This is a shame, after listening to this I have every admiration for Holiday as a writer. This is not a project that I could have researched and written about, Holiday has my full admiration for his attention to detail. I do think that Holiday should have written with the confidence to write the story, which he does very well without the need to continually qualify his assertions.

These criticisms notwithstanding this is a parable for our times. Undoubtedly it raises many questions about free speech in the internet age, personal privacy and the power of wealthy individuals to manipulate the law and wider society. To some extent this story is still unfolding, it would be useful to revisit the effects of the events in this book a decade from now.

It is worth sticking with this.

2 people found this helpful

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  • G-Montoya
  • 03-13-18

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 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • PM1982
  • 08-01-19

So... long... pauses...

So... long... pauses...after...every...word
Struggling to listen even with 2.5x speed.
Also not a huge story

1 person found this helpful

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  • Richard
  • 07-02-19

Really badly written and read

No doubt this is a story worth telling but the author has really made a mess of it. “Why use one word when twenty will suffice “seems to be his motto.

This is one of the best examples of why an author should not read his writings. His voice grates and he frankly isn’t commercial book standard.

Very disappointing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jogile
  • 06-02-19

Dragged out and boring

Unnecessarily dragged out with forced insights into Machiavelli's writings. Got 4h in and just couldn't handle what felt like a failed attempt at an intrigue

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tatiana Whited
  • 03-22-18

Great story; enjoyed it.

really interesting and thought provoking. Thought Ryan's narration was a bit off cadence at times.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Patrick
  • 03-06-18

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Stefan
  • 04-22-20

Brilliantly written, poorly read

This is a brilliantly written, interesting and highly thought provoking. Unfortunately the narration from the author is... in some... cases... agonising. He... is constantly... leaving ... very large gaps.... between words... that... don’t ... need them.
This started off early in the book sounding like emphasis on points but ends up just being an off putting speech pattern, as if he was breaking for a comma that clearly wasn’t there every couple of words in every sentence. I finished the book only because I felt early on that this could end up being very thought provoking and it exceeded my expectations.

Despite it being so agonising, I really recommend listening as the topic is very relevant, raises questions and is thoroughly researched.

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  • Simon Huggins
  • 04-06-20

Great story but seems padded out

Great high level look at the state of the US legal system and how it takes a conspiring billionaire to enact change. It is reasonably balanced, by has a feel of something that has left a lot of holes in order to tread a very careful path, which, given the nature of the subject matter is understandable.
However it does comes across as a very good news article / blog post extended to the length of a book so that a publisher can have the right spine size on a bookshop shelf. At the end, I found that it was indeed a Random House book originally, so yes, that's something most traditional publisher's suffer from: slaves to the word count.
The narration was engaging, and I did enjoy listening to this. One useful artefact of the constant repetition from different angles is that I took details in more, so it's kind of the equivalent of reading a blog post five times over.
You get the feeling that Dan is trying to avoid upsetting everyone involved too much, but I can't say I blame him, as contact are everything in the world he is discussing.
A nice idea that ironically suffers from the results of the very topic he is discussing.

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  • H Bansal
  • 02-17-20

Well Written Poorly Narrated

The story of how Peter Thiel and his team conspired to bring down the behemoth Gawker Media and Nick Denton has been very well written, with great highs and lows the story is awe-inspiring. But the way in which the author has narrated his own book is so bad that its made a mockery of his writing. The narration is bereft of any emotion or even punctuation. It feels as if Ryan is reading a boring newspaper clipping that he has to do for the sake of ads. That too with the kind of dullness and lack of energy that makes it a frustrating listening except for the content that is already there on the internet. There is nothing new that he adds to the story except for some quotes from Machiavelli's Prince or Winston Churchill on strategy and power. I was so excited to listen to this audiobook but now it feels that I can't even finish it. I would recommend Ryan Holiday to get his books narrated by someone else, he needs to accept that narration is not his strong suit.

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  • David
  • 05-06-18

Great book, terrible narration

This is the second Holiday book I've read, and he's certainly improved as a writer. I was captivated by the narrative throughout, and even though there's perhaps a little too much analysis the paving was good enough to keep me enthralled.

But Holiday. Stop. Reading. Your own. Books. Your pauses. Hurt. My ears. You are far. Too. Monotonous. You are not. A good. Narrator. I don't know if it's a cost saving tactic, but it really doesn't make me want to read another of your books.

Overall a great read, I can't deny that. I'm glad I got the book. But geez Holiday you make it a difficult decision.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-23-20

great book

the most ironic part of this book is that fact that Facebook and cyber bullying has caused more damage than Gawker ever did.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-01-19

Fine Story but Ignore the last three chapter

It's a fascinating story but the last few chapters are completely irrelevant to the story of Peter Thiel vs Gawker via Hulk Hogan.

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  • AdamJ
  • 04-28-19

I really enjoyed this

Very different to Ryan Holiday's normal writing, this was truly awesome. I really liked it, could not stop listening.

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  • Harry
  • 01-08-19

Cool story

Such a fascinating story
Well read, well written and much enjoyed.
I think if you like Ryan’s other books, you’ll like this one too.

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  • Chris
  • 10-19-18

Fascinating story!

Amazing story, interspersed with Holiday's usual historical anecdotes and contemplations.

The narration is a little distracting but the content shines thru.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Glenn Gillan
  • 08-10-18

Captivating story and author covers the strategy excellently

A very well written book covering the story and all aspects extremely well. If you like Ryan Holiday's other books and his take on the world you'll enjoy this too. The coverage and analysis of Peter Thiel's strategy really gets the mind going and the author went into the finer details here exceptionally well.

The only downfall was the audio version where the narrator separates each sentence into 3 parts with unnatural pauses in between each. It's one of those things you focus on once you notice it and distracts henceforth.

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  • Nick B
  • 07-10-18

Shakespearean drama played out in modern times.

Ryan Holiday has reached a new level in telling this tale of conspiracy in the modern age. As much a lesson on the nature of conspiracy as an engrossing tale of power, the author leverages his relationships with the protagonists to lift the veil on a story that could have been at home in a Shakespearean drama. I loved every moment of this, including Ryan's musings on the players and their drives. Well narrated and utterly spellbinding. Highly recommended.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Smedley
  • 05-30-18

Good but padded out

Was a great short story. But it was clearly padded out just to make it into a novel.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Joel
  • 04-24-18

Shatner-esque delivery makes it a grind to finish

This was tough to listen to.

The author pauses. Several times. Before finishing. A sentence. Sometimes. Breaking up words. With. Un. Necessary. Pauses. Very. Distracting.

Also. Towards. The end. It completely. Derails into. An anti. Trump. Diatribe. Which feels. Out of. Place. In this book.

Not a bad book but a frustrating listening experience.