Listen free for 30 days

Listen with a free trial

One credit a month, good for any title to download and keep.
Unlimited listening to the Plus Catalogue - thousands of select Audible Originals, podcasts and audiobooks.
Exclusive member-only deals.
No commitment - cancel anytime.
Buy Now for £38.99

Buy Now for £38.99

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

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)

What listeners say about The Contrarian

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    31
  • 4 Stars
    16
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    4
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    31
  • 4 Stars
    10
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    24
  • 4 Stars
    12
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    4

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

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?

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

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.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant insight into the modern word!

If you've ever wondered about the tech titans, their reach and influence and where their ideas/thinking comes from... this is a brilliant deep dive. A story of our times.

From libertarian ideals, Austrian economics, the machinations of a Trump presidency and some odd/zeitgeist thinking...

For me, this book identified the genesis of some ideas that seem to be so prevalent nowadays. I had no previous awareness of their origins or how they came to promenence.

A great guidebook - Goes well with Jane Mayers 'Dark Money'

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Dirk101
  • Dirk101
  • 18-01-22

Great Read!

An engaging book!
Well written.
Great narrator.
It is a Must Read.
Dont be fooled. Make up your own mind.