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Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money Paperback – May 24, 2016
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“An amazing story. Bitcoin is about to transform both finance and how we use the internet, and this fascinating book chronicles its unlikely genesis. Popper has produced a riveting tale filled with colorful innovators that is crucial reading for anyone who wants to understand the future.” (Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators)
“Bitcoin may be a product of computer science, but it is a very human story. This highly entertaining history reminds us yet again that truth can be stranger than fiction and can be peopled with even more unusual and compelling characters.” (Larry Summers, former Secretary of the Treasury)
“So, yes, it’s a totally awesome book” (Justin Fox, Bloomberg)
“This excellent work is the book on Bitcoin you’ve been waiting for” (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution)
“An elegant, thrilling tour-de-force. . . . Nathaniel Popper gives us a front-row seat on the origins of Bitcoin and its captivating cast of characters. The fast-paced action never stops.” (William D. Cohan, author of House of Cards)
“Finally, the book so many of us have been waiting for: A riveting and smart account of the strange history of Bitcoin. You’ll start knowing nothing about Bitcoin and finish with deep knowledge, but you won’t realize you’re learning along the way -- you’ll just think it’s a lot of fun.” (Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR's Planet Money)
“An engrossing introduction to one of the most transformative innovations in finance of the last few decades. Digital Gold paints a vivid portrait of the economics and technology of Bitcoin as well as the people behind it.” (Susan Athey, The Economics of Technology Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business and Winner of the John Bates Clark Medal in Economics)
“The most compelling and in-depth investigation into the world of Bitcoin and digital currency. Nathaniel Popper charts Bitcoin’s fascinating transformation from fringe oddity to a truly global currency. If you want to understand the future of money, read this book.” (Joshua Davis, author of Spare Parts)
“Nathaniel Popper’s new book, Digital Gold, is as close as you can get to being the definitive account of the history of Bitcoin.” (Felix Salmon, Fusion)
“An engrossing look at a system creatively designed to bring money into the 21st century.” (Library Journal)
“Necessary reading” (Bethany McLean, New York Times Book Review)
“Digital Gold is as strong a narrative achievement as a reporting one” (Chris Wilson, Bookforum)
“A vivid guide to the characters who met online and built bitcoin” (John Gapper, Financial Times)
“It’s a tale told quickly and well” (John Biggs, TechCrunch)
“An impressive accomplishment” (Tim Fernholz, Quartz)
“Bitcoin may be inherently speculative, but Digital Gold is a sound investment” (Edward Chancellor, Reuters)
“A family saga... structured like a tech thriller” (John Naughton, The Guardian)
From the Back Cover
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2015 FINANCIAL TIMES AND MCKINSEY BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR
Bitcoin, the landmark digital money and financial technology, has spawned a global social movement with utopian ambitions. The notion of a new currency, maintained by the computers of users around the world, has been the butt of many jokes, but that has not stopped it from growing into a technology worth billions of dollars, supported by the hordes of followers who have come to view it as the most important new idea since the creation of the Internet.
Believers from Beijing to Buenos Aires see the potential for a financial system free from banks and governments, and a new global currency for the digital age. An unusual tale of group invention, Digital Gold tells the story of the colorful characters who have built Bitcoin, including a Finnish college student; an Argentinian millionaire; a Chinese entrepreneur; Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss; Bitcoin’s elusive creator, Satoshi Nakamoto; and the founder of the Silk Road online drug market, Ross Ulbricht.
With Digital Gold, New York Times reporter Nathaniel Popper offers a brilliant and engrossing account of this new technology. At each step of the way, Bitcoin has provided one of the most fascinating tests of how money works, who benefits from it, and what it might look like in the future.
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Top Customer Reviews
Before this book, I read three other bitcoin/blockchain books, watched the documentary (The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin) and read lots of web site articles and blogs. I heard lots of things about the main characters, Satoshi, Gavin, Hal, Ross, Erik, Wences, Winkelvii, Charlie etc. but after Popper's book, all of them are now linked in an organized story line and they came alive in my mind. In a way this book reads like fiction, almost like the script of an HBO mini series. But all of the events are real and the characters are actual living human beings, sometimes with sad endings.
I wonder if the FBI had ever used description of some events in this book as evidence? Or just the opposite, did Popper use legal documents or police reports. How on the earth did he find out all the details of the life of the founder of Silk Road? (Like the thoughts of his former girl firends) Or details about the "super secret" meeting of Allen & Co? Wow! I am shocked, this is journalism at its best, applied to a favourite but difficult to understand contemporary subject.
Bottom line: The book is an example of very fine writing and detailed reporting of the bitcoin subculture. Not a book to learn how to mine bitcoins or where to buy them.
I am a 30-year+ veteran of retail financial services. No, not a Quant who devises algorithms; I deal with Moms ‘n’ Pops and deliver understandable solutions.
So, what’s with this Bitcoin thing? I needed to know what was going on. With the likes of Sir Richard Branson and other highly sophisticated and moneyed proponents of Bitcoin, I am reminded of the early stages of the Internet when a client commented to me, ‘if I meet someone, professionally, who concedes that he is not “online” then I fairly dismiss him. (I, of course, was very “online”.)
I’ve always maintained that ‘if humans invented it, then humans should be able to understand it’.
This book not only explains Bitcoin, this book is an historical compendium of Bitcoin’s embryonic journey to date. I had been reading, collaterally, the 2-part insertion in WIRED magazine about Silk Road, the internet drug site using Bitcoins to trade…wow, did I get confused as to who did what to whom! Popper, (Digital Gold Author) really did a yeoman’s job of articulating the timeline, whys, and the wherefores of the Bitcoin market.
To convince me of the global demand of a digital commodity (an important distinction from “currency”) I only had to read about the Argentinian entrepreneur, Wences, who recounts his days as a boy at the grocery store with his mother. Carrying bags of currency into the store, they would fill shopping carts and if any cash was left over, they would go back to the shelves to spend it all. The point made was that if the cash stayed in a closet for a week, items on the grocery shelf would have been priced higher due to rampant inflation in Argentina.
Another epiphany for me was the hypothetical example of an airliner crash survivor in the Andes Mountains. The aircraft’s cargo hold has split open to reveal gold bullion and bags of currency. Which is more valuable? The currency, because you can burn it for warmth.
Ensconced in the comfort and economic stability of the dollar-denominated United States, we Americans are hard pressed to imagine the horrific political and financial instabilities around the globe. Bitcoin, as a global commodity has the potential to be a godsend to all global trade, not just in the disparate economies that are so horribly dysfunctional.
The train is at the station. By reading this book about Bitcoin, I feel confident of my not missing it.
Overall, I would recommend this book for what it is: an introduction to people with some stuff about what Bitcoin is, technically, thrown in. I think Popper accomplishes, for the most part, what he sets out to do but the nagging sense that we've only entered into an early stage of cryptocurrency holds the book back.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
riveting and compelling prose.
Made some hard to understand technology
not that complicated, which made the book...Read more
A lot of good info too.