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Virtual Billions: The Genius, the Drug Lord, and the Ivy League Twins behind the Rise of Bitcoin Hardcover – April 5, 2016
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“Like The Big Short and Bringing Down the House, Eric Geissinger’s Virtual Billions tackles a fascinating but elusive subject—in this case, Bitcoin—and makes it accessible and entertaining. This is a riveting slice of instant historical journalism about the digital currency that exploded onto the scene in 2009 and in just five years was worth $14 billion.”
—RICHARD ROEPER, film critic, radio host, and cohost of Good Day Chicago
“Enthusiastic… [Geissinger’s] account of Bitcoin’s rise is thoughtful and generally precise.... A perceptive early look at the volatile present and seemingly inevitable future of "’crypto-currency.’"
About the Author
Eric Geissinger has worked as a technical writer for Silicon Valley software companies for seventeen years. His short fiction and poetry have appeared in several literary journals. He lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York with his wife and two daughters.
Top customer reviews
I've been bemused ever since, and then when the collapse suddenly happened, we all started to read about some elusive Japanese dude named Satoshi Nakamoto, possibly a fictional person or at least a nom de guerre. The story took on a surreal aspect. Even if you were a genius novelist like Tom Clancy, you couldn't come up with this stuff--Nakamoto, the reclusive (fictional?) genius who invented true electronic currency Bitcoin; Dread Pirate Roberts, drugs, hackers, drugs, counterfeiters, MURDERS, and a guy who acted all naïve innocent but ended up with a massive jail sentence for providing Silk Road.
This book proves, life is STRANGER than FICTION.
- Starts with a quick lesson in fiat currency and libertarian philosophy.
- I learned about cryptographic principles, “e-wallets” and a “public ledger” which will be kept of all transactions.
- Dare to read about its secretive, enigmatic founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, who may be a real person, a pseudonym, or even a group of people.
- And then, of course, the Winklevoss brothers who invest in BitCoin early-on thus enabling them to make millions.
- With the increased regulation of Bitcoin, the author believes it will accelerate the cybercurrency’s eventual economic impact.
Eric Geissinger writes in a very engaging style, making what might otherwise be a dry, even technocratic history into a wild and entertaining story, or series of stories. (Should I refer to the linked stories as block chain? Probably not ;)
If you have any interest in learning about Bitcoin, there is something for everyone here. You can acquire a basic understanding of virtual or fiat currency, it's historical precedents, or go further to develop an understanding of the level of sophistication of both ideas and programming behind bitcoin. If you are not completely confident, he will show you a lot of examples of currencies based on little of substance and requiring no small amount of faith, like the US dolar since the gold standard was dropped.
I am still not sure that I am 100% convinced, as this is a fiat currency which was never tied to anything of substance, though I fear that any answer to "from whence was this value created?" might sound a good deal like the answers I get when I ask a good friend, a physics professor at a large University, what the Universe is expanding into? In fact, the answers might be remarkably similar ;)
I, myself, am not even a "bitcoin newbie," having never engaged the currency in any way but for reading this book and watching a film about it. (I do, however, have a kid who was clever enough to mine a small handful of bitcoins in the days when virtually no one had heard of it, and more clever still, has held onto them). That, however, did not take a lot of faith. It cost her exactly nothing, except time away from her homework.
The market does seem to have somehow established value and a measure of stability but, call me a luddite, I am still wondering where that germ of value came from, for myself a more essential question than who Satoshi is.
I believe that this book would be most interesting and valuable to those who are comparatively unfamiliar with Bitcoin, though I do believe that it is a book which nearly everyone can enjoy, and learn something from. How often can you say that?
I very much enjoyed reading it, have a better understanding of Bitcoin, and the Roman Empire, and long cons. At present I am investing in my kids educations, at places where they prefer a different kind of fiat currency: checks or credit cards, or even wire transfers, and probably do not have any bitcoins in my immediate future, but.. you never know..