Conspiracy by Ryan Holiday

From my notion template – goodreads digest here

The Book in 3 Sentences

  1. The story of Peter Theil’s feud with Gawker
  2. A periodically interesting look at the nature of conspiracies and grudges
  3. A nice study in patience and the power of our modern tech oligarchs
  4. The oligarch’s power resides in the ability to be patient and thoroughly work the system


Conspiracy by Ryan Holiday – would have made a great Atavist article, as a book it is ignorable – the subject matter is interesting, but it is overlong and very padded

My Top Quotes

  • Alexandre Dumas once wrote that the king of the press has a throne everywhere.
  • 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.
  • Ethics don’t win the war, but they do help keep the peace.
  • The majority of their communication is done over the phone or alone in Peter’s home. Emails can be subpoenaed, or can be hacked. Meeting in public, being seen at Thiel’s offices or in public
  • Mr. A claims that the conspirators had nothing to do with starting Gamergate, but they undoubtedly fanned the flames. His description of Gamergate to me as “largely autonomous but very helpful” is perfectly typical of the lawyerly gymnastics I’ve come to expect from him.
  • The line attributed to the management guru Peter Drucker is that culture eats strategy. It’s a truism that applies as much to conspiracies as it does to businesses. It doesn’t matter how great your plan is, it doesn’t matter who your people are, if what binds them all together is weak or toxic, so, too, will be the outcome—if you even get that far. But if the ties that bind you together are strong, if you have a sense
  • As far as I know, Gawker conducted no mock trials—at least it couldn’t in the Tampa Bay region. Because Mr. A claims he hired the only two firms in the area to conflict them out of being able to work with Gawker. His simple move had kept the fog of war thick around them. No chance for last-minute clarity or perspective.
  • “It became very clear that the kind of jurors we wanted were overweight women. Most people can’t empathize with a sex tape, but overweight women are sensitive about their bodies and feel like they have been bullied on the internet. Men don’t have that problem. Attractive women don’t have that problem. They haven’t been body shamed,” Mr. A tells me proudly. Hypothetical Juror #3 might not have been a victim of revenge porn. She might not care about celebrity privacy. Hypothetical Juror #3 might not have known what it feels like to be Hulk Hogan, but she knows what it’s like to have an unflattering picture of herself on the internet. She knows what it feels like to be embarrassed or ashamed. Which is why they would choose her.
  • The great sin for a leader, Frederick the Great once observed, was not in being defeated but in being surprised.
  • Without a way out, tensions only increase and combatants have no choice but to fight on. Scipio Africanus, the general who defeated Hannibal, would say that an army should not only leave a road for their enemy to retreat by, they should pave it. The Romans had a name for this road, the Gallic Way.
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