Bitcoin

Remember when bitcoin was a libertarian thing? A neat little alternative to the fiat money system? Remember when even some hardcore anarcho-capitalists didn’t like it because it wasn’t gold? Oh, good times! Good times…

This week bitcoin made all-time highs (a measly $2,900 for those reading in the far future) amid wider acceptance from mainstream players. As is to be expected from this community, there is a very heated debate about everything from technical aspects like the block size to strategic directions regarding development and promotion. It’s moving so fast, one hardly knows where to begin describing it, let alone summarize it for those who haven’t kept up.

How can you learn about bitcoin?

Admittedly, as a currency whose original purpose was to disrupt the status quo, the best way to learn about it is online. The bitcoin world is moving fast and there are tons of free resources out there to get a good grounding on what it is.

However, by the same token (no pun intended), it is precisely because of having a glut of information online that it is often hard to know where to start on your journey. There are advantages to letting others do the legwork for you in summarizing what you need to know and delivering it to you in a neat little package we call ‘a book’.

Books of Liberty has traveled to all ends of the virtual world in search of books that would be a good starting point for the uninitiated and at the same time an interesting read for the dilettante.

Books to pique your interest

First on the list is The Internet of Money. This is a collection of talks by Andreas Antonopolous, by far the person I admire and respect most in the bitcoin/blockchain world. It was he who really drew me in and helped me understand the technology and the potential of this amazing invention. But beyond giving Andreas the honor of being first in my book recommendation list, this book is great because it really gets to the heart of what bitcoin is and why we should care about it.

The chapters of this book cover all fundamental aspects of bitcoin, its history, the technology, its benefits, adoption, and future. It is accessible and understandable for readers of all backgrounds and levels of expertise. And the audio book is narrated by the lovely and hyper-intelligent Dr. Stephanie Murphy, who co-hosts Let’s Talk Bitcoin! with Andreas and Adam B. Levine.

The next book, Mastering Bitcoin is also by Andreas Antonopolous and is more of a technical book that covers all the nitty gritty of how bitcoin works. It is as comprehensive as anything you could get in book format.

Bitcoin is the brainchild of Satoshi Nakamoto. It is unknown who this individual or group is, however one can get a fascinating glimpse into the early days of bitcoin through reading Satoshi’s whitepaper and his posts in The Cryptography Mailing List. The Book of Satoshi provides a comprehensive compilation of their writings. Spoiler alert:  Satoshi’s original intent was not for bitcoin to be yet another tool for the big banks to fleece the public and streamline their operations.

For the novices, two additional books would serve as a useful starting point. Bob Murphy provides interesting economic insight in the Understanding Bitcoin, co-authored with Silas Barta and Steve Patterson provides a clear-as-daylight introduction in a jargon-free exposition titled What’s the Big Deal about Bitcoin?.

Finally, for those more interested in a historical account of the bitcoin saga as written by journalists looking to convey the fascinating story arc, two further books come to mind: Digital Gold by the New York Times’ Nathaniel Popper and The Age of Cryptocurrency by The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey.

Concluding thoughts

So say what you want about bitcoin’s impending demise or its potential to skyrocket; talk all day about how it has sold out to the big banks or it being the last true hope for the individual; if you’d like, feel free to make a prediction on its price five years from now. The only thing you probably can’t get away with is ignoring it. And as always, thank you for reading!

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