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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents The Contrarian by Max Chafkin, read by Will Damron.

A biography of venture capitalist and entrepreneur Peter Thiel, the enigmatic, controversial and hugely influential power broker who sits at the dynamic intersection of tech, business and politics.

Since the days of the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s, no industry has made a greater global impact than Silicon Valley. And few individuals have done more to shape Silicon Valley than billionaire venture capitalist and entrepreneur Peter Thiel. From the technologies we use every day to the delicate power balance between Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Washington, Thiel has been a behind-the-scenes operator influencing countless aspects of contemporary life. But despite his power and the ubiquity of his projects, no public figure is quite so mysterious.

In the first major biography of Thiel, Max Chafkin traces the trajectory of the innovator's singular life and worldview, from his upbringing as the child of immigrant parents and years at Stanford as a burgeoning conservative thought leader to his founding of PayPal and Palantir, early investment in Facebook and SpaceX and relationships with fellow tech titans Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Eric Schmidt. The Contrarian illuminates the extent to which Thiel has sought to export his values to the corridors of power beyond Silicon Valley, such as funding the lawsuit that bankrupted the blog Gawker to strenuously backing far-right political candidates, including Donald Trump for president.

Eye-opening and deeply reported, The Contrarian is a revelatory biography of a one-of-a-kind leader and an incisive portrait of a tech industry whose explosive growth and power is both thrilling and fraught with controversy.

©2021 Max Chafkin (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"[A] deeply reported and gripping biography.... It offers essential insights for anyone who wants to understand what Silicon Valley’s global ascendance has wrought - and it’s a really great read." (Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better)

"The Contrarian is much more than a consistently shocking biography of Peter Thiel.... It’s also a disturbing history of Silicon Valley that will make you reconsider the ideological foundations of America’s relentless engine of creative destruction." (Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store and Amazon Unbound)

"A captivating, incisive, rigorously reported examination of Silicon Valley’s most mysterious and controversial powerbroker." (Joshua Green, author of Devil’s Bargain)

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Cheap and highly left/anti-tech biased

Listen to the recent interview of the author on This Week In Startups and you will get a more accurate view of the character of the author. Cheap and slimy. There’s a good reason why a voice actor was needed.
This reads like a cheap tabloid.
The author attempts to ridicule Thiel for taking down Gawker, but fails to mention that their actions of outing him were illegal. Worth the read. Highly biased.

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Max Chafkin writes a novel

Regrettably, blinded by his own ideology, the author has failed to comprehend the driving motivations Peter Thiel. This book reads more like a reverse treatise on Max's ideology than an account of Peter's values, motivations and determination to make the world a better place.

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  • Graham
  • 10-10-2021

A missed opportunity, and willfully disengenuous.

The intention seems to be to make us concerned about Thiel, rather than to attempt a balanced account. It introduces a number of negative events, many of which are exaggerated, and then tenuously places Mr Thiel proximal to them. I was particularly amused with the inference that somehow a ten year old Peter Thiel was supposed to deal with the plight of uranium miners in Namibia...

The book spends of lot of time trying to paint him in such a fashion, and after the first few attempts it became a bit boring. It makes the book a lot less valuable than it could have been.

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  • foufoutos
  • 30-10-2021

Entertaining yellowish book, bad biography

The book is entertaining and is a character assassination with a political agenda. It's not the valuable business book about Peter Thiel you would expect. If you want to gain something it's definitely not here. If you look for some hours of entertainment why not?

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  • D Kamara
  • 22-10-2021

Not convinced!

It’s an interesting story but it reads like the author definitely has a problem with Peter Thiel and that really comes through… to the extent it diminishes the validity of the book. Some of the things that are attributed to Thiel and his Machiavellian plays on the US govt are just too much of a stretch for me. It feels like the author came up with an anti Thiel narrative and then came up with all sorts is stretched of the imagination to make it fit.

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