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Inverview with Evan Ratliff, author of The Mastermind (gimletmedia.com)
136 points by Aissen 43 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 39 comments

Everyone keeps recycling this story, it was originally done by the Atavist magazine, it is an incredibly rivetting read. https://magazine.atavist.com/the-mastermind

My understanding is that it's the same journalist who wrote that story/book being interviewed in the podcast (Evan Ratliff). Either way, the Atavist piece is a great read and very nicely presented

It is - he's on a press tour for his book Mastermind which I just started and is good so far


There is also a competing book that just came out called Hunting LeRoux:


It is being developed into a film by Michael Mann

Based on reviews and my reading so far Mastermind from OP author seems like the real deal

As aosaigh said, it's the same author interviewed on the podcast. In addition to the Atavist magazine's publication, his book came out a few weeks ago.

I had never heard of the story before, and now I can't wait for biopic :-)

Interesting episode of a podcast I love (although it's more targeted to technologically interested but not too knowledgeable people).

I don't think they ever mentioned TrueCrypt in the episode.

I came here to say this, I listened to this episode but didn't realized it was related to TrueCrypt until now.

same here

Him being behind TrueCrypt is only speculation. There is no proof that it was him, and he denies it himself. There's only some limited circumstantial evidence.

Wikipedia has:

>According to the TrueCrypt Team, Hafner claimed in the email that the acknowledged author of E4M, developer Paul Le Roux, had stolen the source code from SecurStar as an employee

Yes, he is an alleged TrueCrypt author. What's for sure, is that he was the author of E4M, upon which source code TrueCrypt was initially based, according to the same wikipedia page:


The Atavist magazine version of this is available at: https://magazine.atavist.com/the-mastermind It's a fantastic (but long) read, I highly recommend it.

MasterMing the merciless? a funny typo.

The title used to say "The Founder: how the creator of TrueCrypt became a criminal masterming". I just fixed the typo to "mastermind". Thanks @bryanrasmussen !

Edit: It has now been updated by the mods to its current title. It went through "The Founder", "The Founder: Interview with Evan Ratliff, author of The Mastermind", and "Inverview with Evan Ratliff, author of The Mastermind", and probably manually demoted from the #1 spot.

I understand the rules of non-editorialization of titles (unless you're the article author, the you can click-bait as you wish), but it seems even the mods understand the need to provide context.

hope my pointing out the typo wasn't the cause of the cascade of renaming.

Not at all, don't sweat it. The HN rules explicitely say "don't editorialize": https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Despite the rules, the current title is completely meaningless to me. How many people here have heard of TrueCrypt, vs The Mastermind?

I only clicked because of your editoralization, and I'm very glad I did!

It sounds like one of those toy rebranding exercises. Where they take a TV character, add armour (that never appeared in the TV show), and sell it as 'Battle Pony' or something.

Or maybe Ming's Zord, in a Power Rangers crossover that I now want to see.

So, is Gordon alive?

Slightly off-topic: any ideas of other good tech podcasts you'd recommend?

I just did a HN search, but did not find any such thread.

I like "Talking Machines", about Machine Learning/AI.

Link: https://www.thetalkingmachines.com/

I read the book from Amazon and done with it in just one day. If you are smart and have bad intentions, the book shows how far a mastermind can go in his vicious world.

It's interesting that someone who wrote a tool called "Encryption for the masses" also happened to be involved in illegal crimes.

I don't mean "people who care about privacy etc. are criminals". But I can imagine a moral-panic of "but criminals write such software", and it doesn't undermine the value of using such software.

For what it’s worth, the story seems to be that he was out of writing said software before having the ideas for criminal enterprises. He was supposedly rather spiteful of freeloaders after releasing E4M, and went after the TrueCrypt authors in particular.

It’s very Breaking Bad.

That is a completely bonkers story, would make a great movie or series.

Kinda reminds me of Breaking Bad, but different.

transcript not accessible for nojs. any alternatives?

Does this paste [1] help? If not, I'll delete it.

It's set to expire in 12 months.

[1]: https://framabin.org/p/?fc98aeebe5cb2585#Pa6OgUybxSWBWFGHlek...

Javascript is required for PrivateBin to work. Sorry for the inconvenience. Loading… In case this message never disappears please have a look at this FAQ for information to troubleshoot.

Thanks for this!

tyvm! i was able to read once i clicked "raw"

I highly recommend this book. Probably the biggest criminal enterprise that nobody has really heard of.

if you haven't yet read The Mastermind, it's a real treat of excellent writing and journalistic skill: https://longform.org/posts/the-mastermind

This could make a good Narcos season.

When genius meets dysfunction.


can someone tl;dr this? what kind of crimes did he commit?

edit: the atavist article linked to elsewhere in these comments covers it:

"Paul Le Roux, the former head of a prescription drug, weapons, narcotics, and money laundering cartel, has been cooperating with the D.E.A. since 2012."

Also smuggling gold, literally having competing businesses burned to the ground, buying a ton (1000kg) of meth from North Korea, tried to smuggle it out in a submarine, having people killed for smaller and smaller things as he grew increasingly paranoid, then hiring another hitman to kill his main hitman, because he was stealing from him.

Under the podcast is a transcript you can skim.

Another proof that a talented person is talanted in everything.

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