This is an account of the irony of Ross Ulbricht building an online marketplace dependent on trust, while simultaneously destroying the trust of his closest friends and family (see p. 64).
The first version of the Silk Road website was hard to find, and once you did you still had to convert currency to Bitcoin in order to make a purchase. There were so many hurdles that a site like that could probably only work for purchases that were already high-friction, such as drugs (p. 44).
One thing that is striking to me about the book, and in interviews Bilton has done, is how vehemently he argues for the veracity of his account. He writes compelling “narrative nonfiction” (as he calls it, in a manner suggesting that the first word acts as a qualifer on the second), with details that would be unknown to anyone who was not present at the time they occurred, such as private conversations between Ulbricht and his girlfriend. Bilton’s argument is that he did detailed research on everything from weather conditions to private chat logs, and was thus able to piece together a mosaic. I would not be surprised if it later comes out that he exaggerated or invented certain parts of the account. Nevertheless, it makes for a compelling read.