[A] page-turning tale of the criminal exploits of a hacker of breathtaking ambition, Max Butler … The personalities, feuds, double dealing, and scams of the hackers are just one half of this lively story. The other half, told with equal verve, is law enforcement’s efforts to find and convict Butler and his accomplices. … Poulsen renders the hacker world with such virtual reality that readers will have difficulty logging off until the very end.”

Publisher’s Weekly

True crime doesn’t get much better than this: a thrilling account of the exploits of Max Butler, a.k.a. Max Ray Vision, a notorious hacker who stole access to 1.8 million credit card accounts before law enforcement caught up with him. … Kingpin gives us not just the personalities and double-dealing of this new underground, but also a look at how hacking has transformed the world of crime.”

Barnes & Noble, Best Books of the Month

As the words tick away before our eyes, the suspense ratchets up incredibly. The complex concepts that drive the whole computer crime community are becoming simultaneously clear for the reader and the cop on the page … As a reading experience, it is utterly compelling and fascinating.”

Bookotron: The Agony Column

“Based on years of reporting, the book is a fascinating lesson in high tech crime as well as a gripping story about one of the past decade’s most notorious thieves. … If you like technothrillers, you are going to love Kingpin. Not only is it an action-packed crime story, but it’s a vision of the criminal world to come.”


“Equally important in this enthralling tale is learning just how widespread hacking’s effects have become.”

New York Post

“Kevin Poulsen’s Kingpin: How one hacker took over the billion-dollar cybercrime underground is a gripping tale that goes beyond the hacker stereotype… Poulsen’s reporting is first class: the book contains fascinating details of the FBI’s investigative techniques and the scams that Butler and other hackers ran. Poulsen is also a former hacker, a background that shows in his sure-handed and engrossing descriptions of Butler’s attacks. It’s not easy to write a gripping passage about a database query language, but Poulsen pulls it off.”.

New Scientist

Hello, Hollywood, Kevin Poulsen has a tale for you… For those who wish to understand how credit card data are stolen, and how the data are converted into stolen cash and merchandise, Poulsen has provided the ultimate reader’s guide.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Cybercriminal-turned-technology journalist Kevin Poulsen probes the depths of the hacker underground—as only one who’s been there /done that can—in an epic cyberthriller … Kingpin sketches a pitched battle between the colorful hacker worlds and the modern day J. Edgar Hoovers who chase, arrest and jail them.”

Metro Silicon Valley

Kevin Poulsen knows of what he writes. The pre-eminent former hacker-turned-journalist/author has delivered a compelling read… spin[ning] a tight narrative on how Max ‘Vision’ Butler crowned himself lord over an international underworld of thousands of professional computer intruders and credit-card thieves that have upended the lives of millions of Americans.”

USA Today

“Wired editor Poulsen successfully sifts through Butler’s many sordid capers. While the author avoids alienating readers who don’t know their bits from their bytes, he also provides enough jargon for technophiles. Even though readers may not exonerate Butler for swindling so many for so long, Poulsen makes them care enough about him to wonder why he kept doing it. A compelling ride.

Kirkus Reviews

[A] milestone in the anthropology of hacking, up there with Steven Levy’s Hackers. … [W]hat will make this book endure is Poulsen’s elegant elucidation of how the hacking world evolved from its pimply, ideological beginnings into a global criminal enterprise.”

The Atlantic

The author … is especially adept at conjuring a world that very few will ever hope to understand. The notion of cybercrime is something that most of us know as some vague and vaguely Russian-dominated thing, but Mr. Poulsen sketches in history, major cases and context to make it all sharp and clear. He had me laughing a time or two at the sheer brazenness of the schemes. … [A] brisk and entertaining tale.

The New York Times