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Publisher's Summary

When a pseudonymous programmer introduced “a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party” to a small Online mailing list in 2008, very few paid attention. Ten years later, and against all odds, this upstart autonomous decentralized software offers an unstoppable and globally-accessible hard money alternative to modern central banks. The Bitcoin Standard analyzes the historical context to the rise of bitcoin, the economic properties that have allowed it to grow quickly, and its likely economic, political, and social implications. 

While bitcoin is a new invention of the digital age, the problem it purports to solve is as old as human society itself: transferring value across time and space. Ammous takes the listener on an engaging journey through the history of technologies performing the functions of money, from primitive systems of trading limestones and seashells, to metals, coins, the gold standard, and modern government debt. Exploring what gave these technologies their monetary role, and how most lost it, provides the listener with a good idea of what makes for sound money, and sets the stage for an economic discussion of its consequences for individual and societal future-orientation, capital accumulation, trade, peace, culture, and art. Compellingly, Ammous shows that it is no coincidence that the loftiest achievements of humanity have come in societies enjoying the benefits of sound monetary regimes, nor is it coincidental that monetary collapse has usually accompanied the collapse of a civilization. 

With this background in place, the book moves on to explain the operation of bitcoin in a functional and intuitive way. Bitcoin is a decentralized, distributed piece of software that converts electricity and processing power into indisputably accurate records, thus allowing its users to utilize the Internet to perform the traditional functions of money without having to rely on, or trust, any authorities or infrastructure in the physical world. Bitcoin is thus best understood as the first successfully implemented form of digital cash and digital hard money. With an automated and perfectly predictable monetary policy, and the ability to perform final settlement of large sums across the world in a matter of minutes, Bitcoin’s real competitive edge might just be as a store of value and network for final settlement of large payments - a digital form of gold with a built-in settlement infrastructure. 

Ammous’ firm grasp of the technological possibilities as well as the historical realities of monetary evolution provides for a fascinating exploration of the ramifications of voluntary free market money. As it challenges the most sacred of government monopolies, bitcoin shifts the pendulum of sovereignty away from governments in favor of individuals, offering us the tantalizing possibility of a world where money is fully extricated from politics and unrestrained by borders. 

©2018 Saifedean Ammous (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Less Bitcoin, more old Austrian Economics Vendetta

Working about 75% thru this book on Audible. Most of it is economics from the Austrian POV. Long story short everything was great under the gold standard and bad before and since. Bitcoin is the next gold so bring it on.

The economic theory here is a missed opportunity for advocates of this economic school to be serious, instead they are not. Fallacies galore combined with implausible claims. For example, Mozart was great art made under gold, while today Miley Cyres 'twerks' under fiat money. Possibly but we know about Mozart today because he made it through the great filter of history. Plenty of ribald ballads were sung in Mozart's time that were forgotten about. It's absurd to evaluate the art of today without understanding the fact that we know more about today's art than we ever will of a previous eras because the forgettable has yet to be forgotten.

The author considers a cartoon version of Keynesian economics (and quite frankly is pretty rude about Keynes the man, claiming he never read classical economics and alleging he had sex with children. The first is clearly false, I don't know about the second but it's suspect when an author writes a book on theory that only does personal attacks on theorists he doesn't like. If you are writing biography or history then do so).

A more serious book would have attempted to wrestle with the actual challenge Keynes poised to the Austrian view of money. The first is clearly the gold standard did not last very long and by the author's admission quickly became consumed by banks that issued paper against their gold holdings. If it was so good why did it fail? Government control was not really the issue. Even when private gold holdings were illegal, gold jewelry was an option and even today is often used as a way to hold gold.

The book confuses savings with investment badly by failing to consider investment is spending. Very little savings is in the form of money, for good reason. Money, at best, can give one a 0% return. Stuff $100 under a mattress and ten years later you will only have a $100 bill. The investment the author equates to savings only happens when money is spent directly by the 'saver' (say a person uses some of his income to buy work tools) or loaned to a business that is doing investment (you save $100 in the bank, the bank loans $100 to the pizza place that uses it upgrade its oven). Savers in a modern economy are investors.

The book focuses on one aspect of danger with fiat money, runaway money printing either by a malicious or incompetent government. But the book acknowledges banks will create money based on fractional reserves (you put 100 gold nuggets in the bank, the bank loans out paper for 90 of them figuring on any given day only a small portion of people will show up demanding actual nuggets). Since this is a known issue with money, how can fiat money 'steal savings' when contracts can easily be written with inflation adjustments built in or it is easy to hedge against inflation risk in the financial markets? The hyper inflation of a desperate government (usually losing or almost losing a war) looks less like the theft of savings as the destruction of value....which is what happens when a nation loses a war. The Confederate States of America, for example, didn't 'steal' savings from Southerners, the assets Southerns had were destroyed as war devastated the nation. Sure if you were a plantation owner who sold his plantation for gold before the Civil War, you would have gold after the Civil War. But whoever brought your plantation wouldn't be as well off.

The gist of this is that the system seems to both demand that money be a store of value AND it provide some inflationary stimulus. The author takes the position that money is neutral...as long as we can divide it into as small units as we need, it doesn't matter if currency is 1 g gold bars or 0.001 g gold bars. But then how can inflation cause such problems? If money was neutral then inflation would simply be neutralized by the market. A 10% increase in prices would be meet with 10% increased wages and 10% increase in debts leaving everyone in the same position as before. If, however, money is not neutral out the window goes the assumption that money needs to be a 'store of value' above all else and a hard money supply will only produce good things and habits for the economy.

I suspect bitcoin will take the place of gold. It's a 'hard money' check on very dysfunctional governments...a great way for people in bad countries to escape the capital controls and bank freezes of a collapsing government...but ultimately not a money replacement.

22 people found this helpful

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book is a subjective opinion of random person

lots of invalid facts, conviniently forgetting to mention important things and lots of topics where is clear the author has no idea what he is talking about

it's like listening somebody talk drunk in bar and connecting random dots in history while leaving out many important dots

12 people found this helpful

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Mislabeled

The title suggests that the book would be dealing with Bitcoin, instead, it talks mostly about the gold standard and the history of money (albeit badly covered). The author seems to have picked the title to seem more current than what the content of the book provides.

11 people found this helpful

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Good Austrian economics, poorly presented

great dialogue and a convincing story, but it was astonishingly redundant and stressed the same points throughout (which is fine, to a degree). I much more appreciated the general economics information than anything else

10 people found this helpful

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  • PG
  • 06-22-18

Must read

This book is a must read for everyone interested in economics, finance or politics. Bitcoin will change the world as we know it today.

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Extrapolation Crazy, need another book on bitcoin

This guy makes crazy assumptions about the present as to why art is the way it is from economics. I’ve never heard of someone so thick headed that their opinions bleed their own biases into what was supposed to be researched writing. Anyone can go on and make up explanations that sound right.

5 people found this helpful

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First and last third of the book are 5 stars

The portions of the book dedicated to Bitcoin (the first and final thirds) are illuminating a describe it’s importance, applications, and uniqueness of the technology.

However, because I’m not an economist and I don’t have a strong foundation of Keynes vs Austrian school of thought. The authors aggressive bias and negativity throughout the middle of the book is off putting. I think this portion would have been better suited in another work where he could flesh out his ideas and provide stronger evidence. Instead of requiring me to take his word on the subject with very selective references and “evidence”.

Overall I think it was a good listen to highlight Bitcoins under examined qualities.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

instant classic

The only book that I have purchased in both print and audible format. Of the books I listen to repeatedly, this book will stand alone for the foreseeable future. Years of common Bitcoin lore backed up by a history of economics and statistics reveal why and how it is unlikely that I will ever see Bitcoin dethroned.

5 people found this helpful

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Must read.

Might be an artifact of the translation into audiobook, but I noticed a lot of repetition and belaboring points. Also a clear bit of bias at points and what occasionally felt like adhominem attacks. Overall though, it's probably the best overall analysis of the potential and pitfalls of bitcoin and blockchain technology I've seen in one place.

5 people found this helpful

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  • bk
  • 01-17-20

Interesting but not convincing

This book is useful to know the limitations of Bitcoin and I don't think I want to use it after reading this book.

Who want to mind Bitcoin when Bitcoin does not generate any new coins?
What happens when nobody is maintaining Bitcoin blocks?

3 people found this helpful

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  • Vincent
  • 03-08-19

My perspective on the world turned upside down

Want to find out why the world is the way it is today? Look no further than this book. This book is about more than just Bitcoin. It’s about what makes good hard money and the consequences on society for not choosing hard money and instead choosing easy, infinitely printed money. Wonder why it’s so much harder to get onto the property ladder today and much more? Look no further than the printing press of your central bank. This book is amazing and must be read by everyone. The only slight small thing I’m not in agreement with however is that blockchain has no use outside of digital cash. I agree that projects should not call themselves decentralised if they can alter the blockchain when events don’t go their way but I do think Bitcoin and blockchain will have a profound impact on our society for years to come. The possibilities and future events are yet to be imagined. Im so excited for what happens next in this space.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Jamie Wood
  • 05-01-20

Rants detract from story

The author strays too often into areas that he seems ill-equipped to handle. His analysis of the history of money is selective. His biographical arguments on Keynes are evidentially thin. His analysis of modern music and art is weak. These positions may be grounded in some truth, but they appear in the text as opinions not well reasoned arguments. And what are they doing here anyway? There is no need for these digressions: it undermines the obvious authority the author displays elsewhere and makes a reader question his overall rigour. One is left with the impression not of a careful academic study but of an ideological project. This is a shame because parts of the book are excellent when the topic sticks to the proposed subject ie Bitcoin.

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Don O'treply
  • 03-07-20

Interesting but very smug

Contains quite a lot of interesting material but is rather spoilt by the many extended passages dedicated to telling us how stupid, lazy and greedy most people are.

After listening to this I invested in some bitcoin. It lost 10% of it's value in one day and is still falling. Sound money indeed.

8 people found this helpful

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  • LC
  • 12-18-18

Disappointing due to bias

Some interesting points made but it is clearly very biased and is providing a one sided subset of the facts which are presented in a distorted and misleading way. There is also a huge amount of repetition, strongly pushing the favoured viewpoint.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. M. J. Young
  • 01-23-20

Great book for understanding the advantages of the gold standard and its relationship to bitcoin

The first few chapters of this book are not really about bitcoin but rather about the gold standard and the libertarian argument for keeping this. The book then goes on to argue that bitcoin is a modern replacement for gold, that it alone (rather than any other cryptocurrency) has particular strengths, such as immutability and being out of control (having no one in charge). These make it an ideal replacement for gold and a long-term store of value.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Big J
  • 03-20-20

Highly recommended

Very interesting. A whole history of money and where bitcoin fits into it. Great read!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MR c j cartwright
  • 10-18-19

This book will go down as the bible of Bitcoin

This book goes into huge depth about the history and fundamentals of Bitcoin, a must for anyone thinking or already into bitcoin that wants a better understanding of the blockchain and everything bitcoin.

2 people found this helpful

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  • 2teirah
  • 08-22-19

Bitcoin and other currencies

This book explains a lot more than bitcoin. Fascinating stuff! Worth a second listen for sure.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MR WYNESS
  • 12-21-18

This is one of the best books I have ever read

I highly recommend this book, not just for a great understanding of Bitcoin but for economics and money explained in an easy to follow manner.

2 people found this helpful

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  • warren smyth
  • 06-17-18

Outstanding Book

A great book on Bitcoin. Loved the history of money chapters which showed why Bitcoin is hard money. Would highly recommend. Some real lightbulb moments whilst reading.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Kyle
  • 01-19-20

Should be mandatory reading.

This book should be mandatory reading at school. Most have no idea what money is and almost no one knows about sound money. The bitcoin information was very helpful to understand such a complex system

2 people found this helpful

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  • andiputra7
  • 09-30-19

Clear No Hype Explanation on what Makes Bitcoin Tick

This audiobook provide a clear explanation on the history of money, the importance of hard money serving as reserve currency, and how Bitcoin, like gold before it, could possibly play this role in the future.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-10-21

must read!

amazing. must read before buying Bitcoin. great insight to the power of Bitcoin and blockchain

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  • Brad Matthews
  • 04-24-21

Brilliant book

Loved the context given in the first 2/3s on sound money, really establishing why bitcoin is so outstanding.

Fantastically well presented.

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  • Icarus
  • 04-10-21

Fantastic explanation of ‘sound money’

This book does a great job of explaining the history of money and why we use it. It does a fantastic job of showing how fiat money really is at the core of our world’s issues with regards to materialism, improvidence, instant gratification, and how it is inimical to long-term capital accumulation.

The book does a great job of covering Bitcoin itself, and gives a great foundation for carrying out further research of your own.

If anything, this is a shorter version of The Creature from Jekyll Island but without the Fed, and with the addition of crypto-currencies.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-20-21

exceptional

the number 1 book for understanding bitcoin, alternative coins and the concepts of money in general

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-07-21

recommend to every new potential bitcoin investor!!

- book broke down simple concepts
- at times a little confusing for the average non-economical background consumer, but otherwise you still understand the gist
- the chapter hating everything about modern art was weird and mainly very opinionated by the author
- but otherwise learning about bitcoin and the economy and previous forms of currency was really enlightening
- just please stop hating on miley cyrus, that’s weird

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  • Mark
  • 01-05-21

So much more than just a book on bitcoin

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to understand the nature of money and the fundamental flaws in our global financial system.

The content is incredibly important, but unfortunately not taught in schools or in the vast bulk of university courses.

Yes, there is plenty of content related to bitcoin, however it's presented in the context of the world's financial system and how bitcoin addresses many of the fundamental flaws of the existing financial system.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew Biz
  • 12-09-20

The History of Money and Bitcoins Place

This was a fascinating read and deserves your attention if you want to understand money and the Bitcoin network. It wasn't hard to follow and made great points from history.

I only had one issue with it. As the author was slinging mud at the second largest blockchain Ethereum. As the DAO hack did happen the author forgot to mention that Bitcoins supply was modified to having 21 Billion instead of 21 million in the early days before it was patched. I think we have to acknowledge nothing is perfect and to compare Ethereum to Bitcoin is essentially comparing it to chalk and cheese. Serving different functions.

I absolutely recommend reading this book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-28-20

omits the key

It tells you why bitcoin is good. But it doesn't tell you what bitcoin is and how bitcoin works....