BOOK REVIEW: CONSPIRACY: A true story of power, sex, and a billionaire’s secret plot to destroy a media empire


I just happened to be interested in Ryan Holiday’s book after reading Obstacle is The Way by the same author. So, when I found that he had written a book about conspiracies. I had to read it. CONSPIRACY: A true story of power, sex, and a billionaire’s secret plot to destroy a media empire was one of the books that I read very fast as it was so interesting and I couldn’t put it down. I had to reschedule my activities to read it. I read it in two days, luckily it was on a weekend and I started reading it on Friday evening and by Saturday midnight I was done with it. It was about a conspiracy by Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal to destroy Gawker media. At the time Gawker Media was an online tabloid that focused on rumors and gossips of celebrities and famous persons. Gawker media ran a story about Peter Thiel being gay and this did not go down with Thiel who firmly believes in privacy. A conspiracy was hatched on how to bring down Gawker media and the owner of Gawker media Nick Denton. 

The book holds an argument that conspiracies are necessary and very important especially when it is necessary to take down insurmountable persons and entities that take advantage of other people’s weaknesses. To engage in conspiracies there must be conspirator who in this case was Peter Thiel, unknown person marked X, Hardy, a lawyer and Terry Bolea commonly known as Hulk Hogan. At first none were known to each other. Conspiracies must retain secrecy at the start to the end. If there are no secrets the conspiracy will fail. The following were the features of conspiracies as demonstrated by Ryan Holiday’s book:

  1. Inciting incident; something must occur that occasions the need for conspiracy. “The beginnings of all things are small.” Cicero.
  2. After the incident there must be a decision to act against the powers that be. “No one attacks me with impunity.” Plots of revenge and justice plots both begin, in their own way, with a transgression, against a person or the whole. And then someone deciding that they aren’t going to take it. The distinction between a conspiracy and a feud is as much in the time it takes. In a fight, one responds to punch with a punch. In a conspiracy one holds their punches and plots instead for the complete destruction of the antagonist, while often intending to escape with knuckles unbloodied and untraceable prints. “Fights breakout, Conspiracies brew” 
  3. Conspiracy are the weapons of the people. Only princes who have weapons to go for full-fledged wars. The only weapon that ordinary people have is conspiracy.
  4. Get a team. Conspiracy without coconspirators is not a conspiracy it is a crime.
  5. Conspiracy requires meticulous planning. To begin you must study the end. You don’t want to be the first to act. You want to be the last man standing.
  6. Tear your heart out. Conspiracies require something that everyone else does not have: hardness and viciousness; the unforgiving utilisation of power and violence against the opponent. You must not treat your opponents as human being. You must forego the impulse of kindness and forgiveness.
  7. The timeline of the conspiracy is usually radically altered by sudden events and happenings. You must have capacity to respond to sudden change of events.
  8. Prepare for setbacks as conspiracy is one long struggle in the dark.
  9. Know thy enemy; To know not yourself is dangerous, not to know your enemy is reckless or even worse. Because without this knowledge you are unaware of the opportunities the enemy is presenting to you and you are unaware of the opportunities you are presenting the enemy to do you harm.
  10. Secrets are crucial elements of conspiracies. It is very difficult to destroy an enemy when they know you are coming for them.   Secrecy is both power and pal.
  11. Sow confusion and disorder. A good strategy must be flanked by feints and disguises. Otherwise, the strategy would be too easy to deduce. It is the art of deception and confusion. Attack the enemy’s morale, economy and corrupt him.
  12. Ensure that there are ties that bind among the co-conspirators. What is the self-interest of the conspirators and what rewards would be given at the end of it? Make this clear to avoid conspirators giving up or giving secrets to the enemy.
  13. Be aware that conspiracies take longer than expected.
  14. Conspiracies succeed because the conspirators want it more. Victory goes to the one who wants it more
  15. Manage the aftermath.

On overall, the book is appropriate for anyone interested in conspiracy or any individual who has need to confront powers that be in an effective way even when they do not have resources to for direct confrontation. You can’t afford not to understand conspiracy especially if you are facing giants. It is a nice book for those who want to understand the nature of conspiracy. You can get this book from Amazon using this link:

https://amzn.to/3la6ev9

Below are other book reviews you can read here:

Review of Ingenious: Crash Course On Creativity by Tina Seelig

Book Review: Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono

Book Review of The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future

Published by Samuel Ng'ang'a Mwangi

One day I had too much to tell but there was no one to tell the story. I had to write articles, print them and then give them out to anyone who cared to read. Author of "So You Want To Get Into Courtship?" A Guide To Purposeful Christian Courtship. I write and rewrite on my blog www.mwelisa.com.

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