Few scandals have horrified and captured the attention of the American public like the Epstein scandal. One of Alex Jones’s first big issues was ranting about Epstein’s predatory and despicable behavior at a time when no one believed him. After the details came out, he was proven right and it seemed like everyone powerful was somehow connected to Epstein; Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Bill Gates, and various other politicians, bankers, scientists, businessmen, and public figures knew him.
Then, Epstein died. Whether he killed himself or not (I think not), along with who might have killed him if the latter is the case, became a major point of concern and conspiracy. It was with all that in mind that I went into reading The Spider with high expectations.
Unfortunately, The Spider is largely disappointing. While it does contain a good bit of useful information for those that want to start learning about just how terrible of a person Epstein was, it is incredibly biased and seems like Levine’s attempt to attack Trump and a few others while defending Bill Clinton and a few others from being lumped in as part of Epstein’s crowd.
Those sections show a lack of thought and proper research on who did what with Epstein. There are other problems too, all of which I’ll go into later on in this review.
But, despite is many flaws, The Spider still has some positive attributes and might be a book worth reading. Levine’s reporting, especially on Epstein’s early life and the crimes he committed that did not involve controversial public figures, is reasonably good and helps expose some of the extent of Epstein’s terrifying pedophile network.
Summary of The Spider by Barry Levine
In The Spider, Levine charts Epstein’s life from its beginning in New York City to his end in a dank prison cell.
For those that don’t know, Epstein was born into a family of modest means but, because of his immense intellectual capability, was gradually able to climb the ladder. He went to two good colleges, although he was embittered about not getting into Harvard, but never graduated. Despite that, he managed to first get a job at a top prep school in New York before later using the contacts he made in that position to get a highly sought after trading job.
But, as with the rest of his life, he couldn’t stick to the rules. He was caught up in an SEC investigation and eventually resigned, forming his own company instead. It was with that business that he met high-powered and high-net worth individuals, most of them with shady backgrounds, and eventually became extremely wealthy.
With that wealth, he was able to live out the debauched, abhorrent lifestyle he craved. Alongside his partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, a British heiress, he set up a human trafficking network that allowed him and his coterie of depraved acquaintances to exploit young girls. In The Spider, Levine discusses the details of that horrific operation and how Epstein managed to convince hundreds of underage girls to have sex with him and/or recruit their friends to do the same. It’s horrifying.
But, Epstein was eventually caught. At first, he was able to call in favors, including favors at the top intelligence agencies in America, and get off the hook, more or less. Despite trafficking hundreds of teenage girls, he was able to leave jail during the day and work in his office. He was eventually released but, at that point, most of his “friends” had deserted him and his legal troubles were just beginning. Lawsuit after lawsuit followed his release, most of which he gradually settled.
However, a few enterprising journalists weren’t content to leave it at that. They exposed the many horrific crimes Epstein committed, his relationships with people including Alan Dershowitz, the high-powered lawyer and Harvard professor, Prince Andrew, Harvey Weinstein, and Ehud Barak, a former Israeli prime minister. Due to the resulting outrage, the government arrested Epstein yet again, found a treasure trove of horrifying evidence, and locked him up in a prison where he died under suspicious circumstances soon thereafter. Thus ended the life of one of the worst Americans.
Most of The Spider is about Epstein’s life and crimes, but some of it also covers his strange obsession with funding research at Harvard and MIT, a bizarre plan he had to impregnate dozens of women at his ranch in Arizona, and how he was involved with a wide variety of people who had no business being anywhere near him. Levine also covers in The Spider how Epstein wrecked the lives of many of his victims, his strange decoration style, and his highly manipulative behavior.
My Take on The Spider by Barry Levine
I had high expectations for The Spider and was almost entirely let down.
Some of the book, as I mentioned in the introduction, is good. Levine covers his relationship with Prince Andrew well, does a good job describing how Epstein’s horrific operation worked, and doesn’t go off on many tangents. I finished it with much more knowledge about how Epstein managed to do what he did.
However, The Spider has numerous flaws.
For one, Levine pins an absurd amount of blame on Trump. Yes, Trump knew Epstein and Epstein was briefly a member at Mar-a-Lago. But Trump kicked him out when he found out that Epstein was a creep. Plus, unlike Bill Clinton, Trump never traveled to Epstein’s island nor has he been accused of having any inappropriate contact with Epstein’s girls. Levine’s fixation on Trump is ridiculous and is largely him barking up a tree unnecessarily. Trump is not and has never convincingly been accused of being a pedo (there was one case that didn’t go far and wasn’t taken seriously), so Levine’s fixation on him makes little sense other than that it’s likely a symptom of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
On that note, while he hammers Trump, Levine never once mentions who the “John Roberts” in Epstein’s flight logs was or what exactly Bill Clinton was doing going to Epstein’s island so many times. In fact, he seems almost entirely uninterested in discussing people outside of the Trump Administration who knew Epstein.
Then there’s his refusal to address the conspiracies about Epstein. I’m not saying he needed to defend those. But, he left out a good bit of speculation about Epstein’s death, what he was doing with all the photos he had collected, what other people were involved, or why he got off so easily the first time he was arrested. Those ommissions are frustrating.
A final frustrating aspect of The Spider is that Levine doesn’t ever quite say how Epstein made his fortune. That, I think, is a crucial omission. While it’s obvious that Epstein made some of his money with his financial business, little is known about how he came by his vast fortune. Was it blackmail? Payments for connecting pedophiles with young girls to abuse? Something else? It’s not clear, and Levine’s refusal to address it in The Spider is a glaring omission.
Some might still be interested in reading The Spider and, if so, go for it. It’s not a terrible book. But it is highly biased and nowhere near as good or informative as it could have been.
As I wrote in my review of A Father’s Voice, I think the abuse of children, especially sexual abuse, is the worst crime. As Arizona recognized in its recent anti-pedophilia bill, far more needs to be done to shield the children from potential abusers. Epstein’s life shows that too. He was able to get away with committing acts of pure evil for years, abusing and violating countless girls in the process. And people knew. His staff knew. His acquaintances knew. People in Palm Beach knew, including the police. And they all let him get away with it. Why are they not being investigated for their complicity?
The Spider is not a particularly good book. But it does expose some of the horrifying acts of Jeffrey Epstein. More needs to be uncovered and more hangings need to take place. That much is clear, even if much about him and his acquaintances isn’t.