Mini review: The End of Money (New Scientist Instant Expert series)

endofmoneycover

This is an excellent introduction to bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and the blockchain, intelligently covering the subject in 200 pages.

My favourite sections examine the blockchain, delving into subjects such as public key cryptography, proof of work and its relation to bitcoin. It doesn’t get overly technical but explains step-by-step how things work. Despite bitcoin being better known, it is clear that the blockchain – the foundational technology behind the currency – is more likely to revolutionise the economy. The problems facing bitcoin are not widely covered but are mentioned here.

Apart from breaking up the text, the pictures in the book serve absolutely no purpose and most add nothing to the narrative whatsoever. I’m impressed – it must take some effort to be so bad. Conversely the graphs and timelines are well done, clearly showing trends and imparting a lot of information in a concise way.

The glossary is handy and the last section called “fifty ideas” is an excellent resource if you want to read further.

One thing that perplexes me is the title of the book. Cryptocurrencies will not be “the end of money” – this is the conclusion the book itself comes to in the section called “Is bitcoin really money?”. So maybe the tile should have been “The End of Money?”. Not a big deal but it struck me as strange.

Still, if the other books in the Instant Expert series are as good as this, I will be reading more.

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