TL;DR: Smart money is already preparing the next wave of history. That’s how it goes. Those who panic, give-in, and settle are left behind. Those who prepare, build in times of crisis, are inevitably rewarded. Coronavirus changed your life, for sure. Now is a great time to reset, get back to basics, and familiarize yourself with the future of finance, peer-to-peer electronic cash. Here are five crypto books to get those mental juices flowing.
Top Five Crypto Page Turners to Beat Coronavirus Boredom
#5 Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Utopians, and Technologists Who Created Cryptocurrency
New York University professor Finn Brunton comes from the world that birthed cryptocurrency, hacking. He’s more than just a touristic academician, having slept on conference floors during 2600’s Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE) gatherings.
His book is a masterful look back at all the subcultures that helped bring along the idea of peer-to-peer electronic cash. We’re for sure losing part of that ethos as enthusiasts transition into corporate finance, begging for licensing and “regulatory clarity.”
Cypherpunks are largely gone, replaced by marketers and hype men. Brunton has a real love of money and its development, and when combined with his passion for old school hacking, the perspective is at once powerful and inspiring.
#4 Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain: Bitcoin, Blockchain, Ethereum & Smart Contracts
David Gerard is Nouriel Roubini but with wit and turns-of-phrase so biting they actually sting. He hates, loathes cryptocurrency and all it stands for. Other than providing him with a steady stream of subject matter to point his wicked keyboard at, Bitcoin, to Gerard, is utter, contemptible awfulness.
And yet Gerard, in a kind of ironic twist, is probably best known for his writing on things cryptocurrency. Attack is well worth reading for a number of reasons, not least of which is to ground oneself in what a blockchain or distributed ledger actually is: an old technology, little more than a database.
Such sobriety helps to innoculate converts from the inevitable scams that roll along, promising “paradigm shifts,” “a new way of thinking,” and “human liberation.” I do find his thinking short-sighted, myopic ultimately, hamstrung by the unearned confidence progressives around the world are famous for, but, again, no crypto library would be complete without grappling with Gerard.
#3 Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money
Nathaniel Popper of The New York Times was one of the first mainstream, legacy journalists to take Bitcoin seriously, to see it as something more than a mere curiosity. And though Popper is an outsider, and his narrative can come across, at times, as a glib sneer, Digital Gold has become a go-to reference source for the early history of crypto.
Popper is famously agnostic on the subject, holding no cryptocurrency out of a misplaced sense of journalistic ethics. He doesn’t ever seem to acknowledge how that simple fact makes him less empathetic, less understanding, and obviously biased in favor of government fiat money.
Nevertheless, Digital Gold was the mainstream’s first account of Bitcoin, and the alliances and early businesses and personalities he writes about have since gone on to infamy. Many more were yet to make themselves known, and that gives his book a special distinction.
#2 How Money Got Free: Bitcoin and the Fight for the Future of Finance
Brian Patrick Eha has the distinction of writing the definitive early history of Bitcoin. No one, thus far, has done better. How Money Got Free is mandatory reading for understanding the social dynamics behind how Bitcoin grew from mathematical theory into a full-blown phenomenon.
He follows the lives of a dozen key players, names still very relevant (a testimony to Eha’s curation), narrowing it down to handful as his principal focus. Eha, unlike Popper, has sympathy for his subjects and the subject matter without fawning or resorting to hagiography.
How Money Got Free is so well-written it’s downright cinematic. Eha doesn’t tell readers about Bitcoin and its pioneers, he takes us to the parties, inside the families, and we get a glimpse into the brave new world of money’s future.
#1 Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption
This might be considered the third in a trilogy from Ben Mezrich, who famously routed twin brothers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss in an early account of their relationship to the founding of Facebook. His version of events became the foundation of the film, The Social Network, making the Winklevii household villans.
Funny thing happened in the ensuing years since. Zuckerberg, who was a heroic figure in Mezrich’s early work, turned out to be something of a snake while the Winklevoss twins were vindicated in a substantial settlement over the Facebook affair. And with that money, the twins’ next life chapter begins.
Personally, I am not a fan of the Winklevoss and their vision for Bitcoin. In a lot of ways, it’s the antithesis of peer-to-peer electronic cash’s potential. But that doesn’t mean their personal story about finding money’s future is any less compelling. Just the fact these dudes were at the start of not one but two unicorns is more than enough reason to study their business acumen. A fantastic, breezy read.
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DISCLOSURE: The author holds cryptocurrency as part of his financial portfolio, including BCH.