Book Review: CryptoCurrency by Vigna and Casey

During the past week I have read CryptoCurrency by Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey. I loved it!

Firstly, the aim of the book is similar to the aim of this website. Neither author is a developer, they are both journalists, which means that the content is very accessible to us normal (not a cryptographer) humans. Their goal was simply to understand and explain what they found as best they could. I think that they did a great job.

Since they were making the very substantial effort to write a book and not an article or a blog post, they interviewed many of the leading people in the development of Bitcoin which has enabled them to piece together a very readable history of this new technology.

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This readability is key if Bitcoin is going to be able to breakthrough into the mainstream of society – a point that they frequently make. It is also important because, although it takes them many pages, their description of the blockchain is the best that I have read so far. Given the desire to make it through those six or so pages, most people would be able to understand the basics. Let’s be honest, the blockchain is not the most easy to grasp concept in history…

The authors clearly believe that the future of finance will be shaken up by cryptocurrencies, the only questions are to what degree that happens and how soon. They make a good case and it is not easy to disagree with them.

They also take a thoughtful look at a number of the other alt coins that have been developed in the wake of Bitcoin and the technical nuances and breakthroughs that underpin their concepts. This makes the book a good way to begin to learn about the ecosystem and be able to distinguish Ethereum from Dash and Ripple from WeChat.

Interestingly, when I first learned of bitcoin et al I was struck by how difficult it might become in the future for governments to collect taxes and VAT on transactions and the potential impacts this might have to a functioning society. The authors looked at many of the potential big picture developments that might unfold, but left this topic alone. That is probably a good thing, because in doing so they investigated ideas that my friends and I had not thought of, ideas that are revolutionary for society as we know it. I’m glad they did.

This scope means it is almost impossible for even the most seasoned and knowledgeable bitcoin enthusiast to not learn something

Therefore, no matter what level you may be at, if you are interested in bitcoin, this book is highly recommended.