Summary of The Rise and Fall of Silk Road

How a 29-year-old idealist built a global drug bazaar and became a murderous kingpin.


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The Rise and Fall of Silk Road summary
How did a libertarian idealist become the power behind America’s largest online drug marketplace?


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In early 2015, a jury found Ross Ulbricht guilty of creating and running the drug-selling e-commerce website Silk Road. But how exactly did Ulbricht come to create Silk Road, and how, with all the encryption and secrecy standing in the way of discovery, did law enforcement ultimately bring Ulbricht to justice? In this long article, Wired reporter Joshuah Bearman weaves a detailed and gripping narrative of the various individuals – including Ulbricht, Silk Road employee Curtis Green, Drug Enforcement Administration agent Carl Force and FBI agent Chris Tarbell – and the encryption technology which played a part in the Silk Road saga. In detailing the rise of Silk Road and the evolution of its founder from political experimenter to brutal businessman, Bearman also raises larger questions about the nature of identity and the corrupting influence of power. getAbstract recommends this article to everyone interested in the intersections among digital technologies, politics, law, philosophy and identity.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the Silk Road website operated,
  • How Ross Ulbricht functioned as the mysterious founder and leader of Silk Road, and
  • How law enforcement found and prosecuted Ulbricht and closed the Silk Road case.


From Libertarian Ideals to Silk Road
The seeds of the philosophy which Ross Ulbricht would one day cite as inspiration for his clandestine e-commerce website, Silk Road, were planted during his time as a master’s student at Penn State. Ulbricht’s field was science, but he developed a strong...
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About the Author

Joshuah Bearman writes for Rolling Stone, Harper’s, Wired, The New York Times Magazine, The Believer and McSweeney’s and contributes to This American Life.

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    Edward Brown 7 months ago
    This summary, reminds me of the recent summary of "the subtle art of not giving a fuck" in that it seems to signal a new willingness on the part of Get Abstract to summarize "badass" content that pushes the envelope.
    Bravo! Keep up the great work!

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