2018: Book #29

There’s a strong movement of secular philosophy on the rise. Author and thinker Ryan Holiday is a leader in this arena. This movement is trying to give meaning to life and the pain associated with it. For a believer in Jesus, the books are good, but they fall way short. It’s like peering over a ledge and only seeing hopelessness.

The secular philosophy is akin to saying, “Go ahead…jump. Sure, you’ll die, but life is about the thrill and what you learn before you hit the ground with a massive thud.”

That’s hopelessness.

So, why do I read these books? Well, they help me better understand how the world is thinking. They also remind me that the world is embracing that fact that life is hard. Life isn’t meant to be easy. It’s not all sugar sticks and unicorns.

I just finished Holiday’s new book, “Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker and the anatomy of Intrigue.” Here is Holiday’s premise: The world needs more conspiracies.

Conspiracies help advance causes. Even if the conspiring of events is bad…the end result is good.

This is a very disturbing book. Holiday is proposing a new model for life, business, and government. Throughout the book he weaves in quotes by ancient philosophers and emperors to prove his point. However, the book centers on the court case of Hulk Hogan.

Hogan was filmed—without his knowledge—having sex with his best friend’s wife. That tape was released without his knowledge. Gawker, a now emphasis gossip website, released it. Some years before, Gawker had outed billionaire and PayPal founder, Peter Thiel as gay. Thiel wanted to be known as a great businessman. Not a great GAY businessman. Thiel, eager to strike back at Gawker, puts together a small team. They approach Hogan and fund the lawsuit to take down Gawker. They win.

Today, Gawker is bankrupt and out of business. How did it happen? It happened through a conspiracy…all because Thiel was angry and bitter over being outed, which is why he paid for Hogan’s defense.

You may be asking yourself: should I read this book? The answer is, yes.


Because you need to understand how secular philosophies are influencing both business and life.

Here are some notable quotes from the book:

“Never interrupt an enemy making a mistake.” – Napoleon

“The great sin for a leader, Frederick the Great once observed, was not in being defeated but in being surprised.” – p. 246

“Anyone who is threatened and is forced by necessity either to act or to suffer,” writes Machiavelli, “becomes a very dangerous man to the prince.”

“The great Sun Tzu said that you must know your enemy as well as yourself. To not know yourself is dangerous, but to not know your enemy is reckless or worse. Because without this knowledge, you are unaware of the opportunities you enemy is presenting to you, and worse, you are ignorant of the opportunities you present to those who wish to do you harm.”

The book is both fascinating and sad. The story is intriguing and true, but the case Holiday makes is ultimately empty. Read it with a guarded heart. Keep an open mind so you can learn from it. In this way you will know Christianity’s competition well.

I give the book 4.5 stars out of 5.

For the moment, this is my choice for Book of the Year.

That’s book #29 for 2018.
23 more to go to reach 52 for the year.

Remember, all leaders are readers.
If you want to be a better leader…be a reader.

Interested in purchasing this book?