Synopsis: The Age of Cryptocurrency by Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey is a brilliant book, explaining how Bitcoin works and what it means for society. It comes with my very highest recommendation. Read this article for a comprehensive The Age of Cryptocurrency book review.
***This review is part of a series. Click here for my full list of the world’s best cryptocurrency books.***
The Age of Cryptocurrency Book Review
This is a really special book for me, because it is the very first crypto book that I ever picked up. I quickly read The Age Of Cryptocurrency from cover-to-cover in 2015 and it gave me the thirst to devour every other book I could find about the subject.
Since that memorable first reading, I have read many other books about crypto, and even published my own (The Crypto Intro), but The Age of Cryptocurrency remains one of my absolute favorites. The dust jacket on my hardback copy is now thoroughly tattered because I have taken it with me on many foreign trips. It is also quite filled with the marks of my highlighter pen, and there are notes crammed into the margin on almost every page. I distinctly remember that the hardest part with The Age of Cryptocurrency was resisting the strong urge to underline and highlight every single word.
The Potential & Social Impact Of Bitcoin
There are many interesting and useful insights in Vigna & Casey’s work, but I want to focus on just one in this The Age Of Cryptocurrency book review. It comes right at the beginning of the book, and it remains the single most powerful argument in favor of crypto that I have seen, anywhere.
The authors introduce us to a young woman from Afghanistan named Parisa Ahmadi. She is bright and ambitious, but because she was born into a strongly patriarchal country, her prospects are severely limited. They lay out the unhappy circumstances for Afghani women as follows:
“…one of the other things most girls don’t have in Afghanistan is a bank account. If the Afghan teen ever had any money, she had to transfer it into her father’s or brothers’ bank accounts, and that’s simply the way it is for most girls where she lives. In this sense, she was lucky—for many women from her background male family members block them from access to their funds and treat the money as their own.”
With the banking system closed to her, Bitcoin provided a life-changing opportunity. Without needing anyone’s permission, Parisa was able to get her own Bitcoin wallet and start blogging for a site called “The Film Annex”, which paid her in Bitcoin. She was able to use her crypto earnings to buy a laptop computer, and was able to realistically dream of becoming a doctor in the future – rather than being subservient to the men in her life.
The Age of Cryptocurrency is a tour-de-force of the entire crypto landscape – from how it works, to the impact it promises to have. The book is very well organized and the structure flows superbly. The sheer writing skill of the authors is on full display – some of the passages are truly memorable for their eloquence and quotability. Examples are below.
Quotes From The Age Of Cryptocurrency
This The Age Of Cryptocurrency book review wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include a few of the best snippets. If you are on the fence about investing the time in reading this book, I think these quotes will be enough to help push you over the edge and get you to buy it.
“The system we use now for managing exchanges of currency and assets dates back to the time of the Medici family of the Florentine Renaissance, when banks first assumed dominance in the monetary economy of Europe.”
“Just as the technology of printing altered and reduced the power of medieval guilds and the social power structure, so too will cryptologic methods fundamentally alter the nature of corporations and of government interference in economic transactions.”
“Technology does not wait for us to catch up. From threshing machines and power looms to electricity and assembly lines to mainframe computers and e-mail, individuals and governments who haven’t paid significant attention to new technologies have been in for a nasty shock.”
“These days more than ever, technology is driving the twin processes of human discovery and the struggle for freedom. True to the spirit of Gutenberg’s invention, information technology now fully occupies the engine room. For information truly is power. The telegraph, telephone, and later television all helped spread ideas and shift power away from those who’d previously monopolized information. Then came the Internet, which has amplified this effect to new extremes, giving people more power than they’ve ever had. Whatever you want to call this new economy—the sharing economy, the collaborative economy—it is upending centuries of accepted social norms.”
“Bitcoin… has gone from what was ostensibly one lonely coder’s pet project to a global phenomenon that has sparked the imagination and activism of libertarians, anticorporatists, crypto-anarchists, utopians, entrepreneurs, and VCs. Bitcoin has gone from being essentially worthless to dearly valuable, only to crash and rise again, a wild trading pattern that has few analogues in capital markets. It’s certainly gone from nowhere to somewhere, and where it goes from here may be as messy and chaotic as where it’s been.”
If there is to be any criticism in this The Age of Cryptocurrency review, it is this: It isn’t the best book for absolute beginners. While Vigna & Casey do their best to try to take things slowly, I think the best audience for this book is those who already have at least a rudimentary knowledge of Bitcoin, or at least finance. Other books like The Internet of Money by Andreas Antonopolous, or my own The Crypto Intro would be a better bet for complete crypto novices.
The Age of Cryptocurrency will take readers to a strong level of understanding… so long they are not starting from scratch.
The Verdict: The Age Of Cryptocurrency Book Review
If you have an interest in technology, finance, social issues, or your own financial future, you should absolutely elevate The Age Of Cryptocurrency to the top of your to-read list. It does a thoroughly expert job of explaining the crypto phenomenon, as well as the crucial nuts and bolts of how crypto works.
But most of all, where this book really shines is in the analysis that Vigna & Casey bring to the table. Even crypto experts will appreciate their insights about where crypto might be heading in the future. The prognostications in this book are extremely well thought-through.
If you enjoyed this The Age of Cryptocurrency book review, you would also enjoy my book – The Crypto Intro. It is more of a hands-on how-to guide for getting started with Bitcoin and crypto. Read The Age of Cryptocurrency for the history and societal impact of crypto, and read The Crypto Intro for the exact steps to try it for yourself!