Conspiracy: Review and Summary Notes


Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue by Ryan Holiday

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This book is a paean for definite optimism, and a call to take patient, considered action.

See also: High Agency

If you’re familiar with Ryan Holiday’s first book, Trust Me, I’m Lying, you’ll know how corrupt and unethical Gawker is. As an example of one of Gawker’s misdeeds:

They found that while he was editor in chief, A. J. Daulerio ran a tape of a college-age girl having sex on the dirty floor of a bar bathroom, and when the girl begs repeatedly over email for him to take it down, he tells her simply, “I’m sure it’s embarrassing, but these things do pass.”

While Trust Me, I’m Lying is told from the journalist’s perspective, Conspiracy is told from the subject’s perspective, of how journalism is about raw power, and it is the subject’s role to be subjugated by the journalist’s power over them. Conspiracy, then, is a story about what happens when that power is reversed.


[There is] this sense of powerlessness over our future and a naïve certainty that the good guys always win […] If you want to have a different world, it is on you to make it so.

The cleanest or at least the clearest lesson […] is in the power of secrecy, of coordination, and of pushing past those situations where “nothing can be done.” In a time when computers are replacing many basic human functions, it will eventually come to be that audaciousness, vision, courage, creativity, a sense of justice—these will be the only tasks left to us. A computer can’t practice secrecy or misdirection, a computer can’t feel an urge to remake the world.

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