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The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money Are Challenging the Global Economic Order Hardcover – January 27, 2015


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Vigna and Casey's thorough, timely and colorful book is a rewarding place to learn it all. (The New York Times Book Review)

For any book on bitcoin to be worth reading, it has to delve further: into the crypto-currency's ideological and technical roots, for instance, or what it adds to the narrative of money, or even what its economic and political impact may be. The currency's...underlying technology provides plenty of intellectual fodder-and is unlikely to go away. So there is plenty to write about if you are serious. Paul Vigna and Michael Casey, two journalists at the Wall Street Journal, are certainly serious. (The Economist)

[Vigna and Casey] have produced more than a bitcoin 101: their [book] is a smarter, more holistic take on not just bitcoin, but the potential of all digital currencies to change the way we send each other money. (Fortune)

To their ample credit, Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey, veteran Wall Street Journal reporters, resist the common temptations to hype their trendy subject. They've written a reported explainer that patiently documents bitcoin's rise, acknowledges its flaws and highlights its promise. Smart and conscientious, The Age of Cryptocurrency is the most thorough and readable account of the short life of this controversial currency. (The Washington Post)

This book should be required reading for anyone who has an interest in digital currency or the capabilities of the blockchain. (Bitcoin Magazine)

Anyone who doubts that bitcoin and its imitators are at the early stage of altering fundamentally the global payments system--if not the nature of money itself--will find it difficult to resist Michael Casey and Paul Vigna's admirably clear and judicious account. If the word 'blockchain' makes you want to call a plumber, or if you think Satoshi is some kind of raw fish, you need to read The Age of Cryptocurrency today. If you're already a bit-convert, you'll still learn a lot. (Niall Ferguson, author of The Ascent of Money)

Anyone who views bitcoin as a voodoo concept must read this totally comprehensible narrative outlining the history of money and how bitcoin might become a new and better currency. For those confused by bitcoin concepts, this clearheaded and readable book sets forth credible reasons why bitcoin might or might not be an evolving economic miracle. (Arthur Levitt, 25th Chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission)

An invaluable book: a fascinating field guide to the phenomenon in which three of the most powerful forces shaping our world today--the reform of finance, technological innovation, and the rejection of traditional politics--meet. (Felix Martin, author of Money: The Unauthorized Biography)

The Age of Cryptocurrency not only demystifies and explains bitcoin, but also shows where it fits into the cultural zeitgeist and where it's pointed, and what that may mean for our financial system. (John Mauldin, New York Times bestselling author of Endgame)

The thought-provoking Age of Cryptocurrency was a pleasure to read. The authors have successfully demystified cryptocurrencies like bitcoin so that even a traditionalist like myself can understand them and embrace their potential. And the references to money were so spot-on, they even taught this old dog some new tricks. (Edmund C. Moy, 38th Director of the United States Mint, 2006-2011)

Vigna and Casey unlock the mysteries of cryptocurrencies and their implications for the future of financial transactions in an engaging, lucid, and thought-provoking account. The technological developments described in this book will someday affect every one of us and I can think of no better guide to what the future holds. (Eswar Prasad, author of The Dollar Trap)

Even to a bitcoin skeptic like myself, Vigna and Casey's book is a fascinating journey into the cast of characters and oddballs behind the movement into the digital currency realm. (Barry Ritholtz, CIO, Ritholtz Wealth Management)

Thorough, multidisciplinary approach to the topic, including a fascinating examination of the origin of money... newcomers will gain a better understanding of the revolutionary potential of digital currency...And the explication of the non-currency applications of the concepts behind Bitcoin--such as tamper-proof records of verified information will be valuable to any reader. (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

About the Author

MICHAEL J. CASEY writes for The Wall Street Journal, covering global finance in his "Horizons" column. He is a frequent contributor to the Journal's MoneyBeat blog and co-authors the daily "BitBeat" with Paul Vigna. He is the host of the book-themed video series "WSJ Afterword" and a frequent guest on and host of "The News Hub" and "MoneyBeat." His podcast on world economic affairs is forthcoming. Casey has written for such publications as Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, and The Financial Times. He is the author of two books: Che's Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image (Vintage, 2009), one of Michiko Kakutani's "best books of 2009," and The Unfair Trade: How Our Broken Financial System Destroys the Middle Class (Crown, 2012).


PAUL VIGNA is a markets reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering equities and the economy. He is a columnist and anchor for MoneyBeat. Previously a writer and editor of the MarketTalk column in DowJones Newswires, he has been a guest on the Fox Business Network, CNN, the BBC, and the John Batchelor radio show. He has been interviewed by Bitcoin magazine and appeared on the Bitcoins & Gravy podcast, and boasts a collective 20 years of journalism experience.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (January 27, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250065631
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250065636
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

No doubt, the book is extremely well written, and easy to understand.
William Mougayar
The Age of Cryptocurrency is the seminal guide to Bitcoin and digital currencies, especially for the mainstream audience.
RL Willard
A comprehensive book that covers quite a bit of history as well as recent activity.
Ska Man

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
The authors of this book are reporters, and as a piece of reportage it is broad, deep, and well-balanced. They take you through the history of bitcoin, the alternatives to bitcoin, all the technology behind bitcoin, and extended uses for this disruptive technology which could have wide implications throughout society. They provide a broad discussion of the projects underway in 2014 to employ bitcoin.

If the book has one shortcoming, it does not define how it all works quite precisely enough for a techie. The reader of this review may find it useful to mix my point of view with that of the book itself in trying to envision the mechanics.

The casual reader is somewhat familiar with the bitcoin phenomenon. It appears to have been started by a single idiosyncratic individual calling himself Satoshi Nakamoto but whose identity remains unknown and who dropped out of sight some three years ago. What this gifted technician did was to envision the architecture of an entire system, implement that system, find a group of disciples, fanatics if you will, to carry it on, and then quietly disappear. This is truly the stuff of science fiction

The thing that he invented is the thing that is most difficult to describe. Here I go in my own words, rearranging some thoughts from these authors.

The first question is what a currency is. We are familiar with fiat currencies such as the dollar the euro and the yen. We are familiar with the fact that these have all evolved from metallic representations, such as silver dollars and $20 gold pieces, to paper certificates indicating that metal was once held in storage to back them up, to fiat currencies which have nothing whatsoever behind them. The dollar today is an artificial construction, a unit of exchange.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By RL Willard on January 27, 2015
Format: Hardcover
The Age of Cryptocurrency is the seminal guide to Bitcoin and digital currencies, especially for the mainstream audience. It is concise, yet penetrating and gives more than a fair and satisfying view of the genesis, players and pros v. cons inherent the space. As someone who lives this industry and talks about it on a national level, I highly recommend it for anyone seeking to acclimate and educate themselves on this socially transformative issue.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Floored on January 28, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are two steps you need to go through in order to understand cryptocurrency.

The first thing you have to do is ask yourself a series of questions "what is money?" "What is value?" "What is a payment?" "How does our payment system work?" "How does our money work?" "How does Bitcoin work?" "How well does Bitcoin conform to how we understand money/payments/assets/value as working?" "What are crypto-currency's strengths/weaknesses? And how do these strengths/weaknesses compare to the system we are using now?"

It is only once you have taken the time to thoroughly examine these questions that you can move on to the second step and begin to look at the second half of the equation and start talking to the people involved. Here you ask the Bitcoin Fanboys why they like it. You ask the doubters and trolls why they hate it. You ask the critics what they would change. You ask the intellectuals what they are impressed with or what they have doubts about. And all the while you must ask yourself "how objective is the person I am talking to?"

Jeffery Robinson's book Bitcon was deeply flawed because he basically skipped over the first part. He created a narrative of opinions without ever asking how objective those viewpoints were. And while he quite correctly divided the crypto currency space up into true believer and doubter, he failed to recognize that those doubters tend to be every bit as fanatical, unbalanced, and uninformed (on the subject) as the cult-like faithful.

Vigna & Casey do not fall into this trap. "The age of cryptocurrency" is intelligent, thought provoking, and well researched. This book provides an easy context to understanding this very important technology.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gil Luria on January 27, 2015
Format: Hardcover
This is the right book to read in order to understand what bitcoin really is and the context in which it appeared. Michael Casey and Paul Vigna combine an in-depth understanding of the complicated subject matter with an objectivity and perspective that is hard to find when discussing cryptocurrency technology and bitcoin.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By francesco on January 27, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just received my two copies two days ago and had the incredible pleasure to read the book. Its well written and definitely a must read for any person interested in Finance, Technology and Bitcon; the book also face human matters as the struggle of un-banked in the World and present solutions that no other publication has proposed. I highly appreciated Paul Vigna and Mike Casey perspective on those matters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William Mougayar on February 3, 2015
Format: Hardcover
If there was a book I wished had existed when I first became involved in Bitcoin in 2013, The Age of Cryptocurrency would be the one. So, to all my friends who are still skeptical about cryptocurrency, or want to better understand it, this book was written for you. It will save you hours of piece-meal catch-up reading about this topic from a variety of sources or blogs.

The authors, Paul Vigna and Michael Casey are accomplished reporters and writers for the Wall Street Journal’s Money Beat [Michael's bio, Paul's WSJ page]. No doubt, the book is extremely well written, and easy to understand. In a nutshell, it narrates the chronology of Bitcoin’s evolution with impeccable precision. It is free of hype, while not being shy in pinning the important role that cryptocurrencies will play in our future.

In eleven chapters, the book cleverly combines extraordinary stories about Bitcoin’s usage around the world, while weaving more serious explanations of the key concepts behind the cryptocurrency revolution and all the pieces that relate to it.

The book starts with a sweeping account of the origins and relationships between money and governments from the Babylonian times, to the Chinese emperors, into Europe’s medieval rulers, to Bretton Woods, and the watershed moment when Nixon un-pegged the US dollar from gold, and beyond. That part puts an insightful context about the global evolution of money in our society and economy.

The book’s second chapter, rightfully called “genesis”, is framed by a key statement that Satoshi Nakamoto once made: “What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust.” Hence, you’ll understand the omnipresent importance of the “trust” theme that dominates today’s bitcoin applications.
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