I found this book very disappointing. Two out of the four glowing reviews in the 'product description' are not for this book, but for Dominic Frisby'sI found this book very disappointing. Two out of the four glowing reviews in the 'product description' are not for this book, but for Dominic Frisby's seemingly better received book: Life After the State.
If you want a rather rambling journey through the characters involved in starting up cryptocurrencies, including a somewhat lengthy discourse on who the creater of Bitcoin was (or is!), then the book might be of some interest. If you really care who Satoshi Nakomoto is, and there is a complete appendix devoted to the issue, then there will probably be something of interest (it clearly became a bit of an obsession for Dominic Frisby). However, if you are interested in Bitcoin, the currency itself, and for learning about what it is and how it works then this is not the book for you. If you are just happy to learn that Bitcoin is outside state control and somehow relies on a block chain to ensure security and uses complicated puzzles to mine new bitcoins, then fine; if it's just the personalities that interest you, you'll probably enjoy this book.
If you instead want some decent explanation of how Bitcoin actually works, how a block chain works in practice, how new bitcoins are actually mined, how security is guaranteed in practice, etc etc so you can actually start to understand cryptocurrences and take an informed view on their future, then look elsewhere. Dominic Frisby does write about the future of currencies and cryptocurrencies, but without the bedrock of being able to understand the mechanism of how cryptocurrencies actually work, one can't appreciate whether his predictions and observations have any sort of grounding in reality.
It is pretty clear that Dominic Frisby doesn't actually know much about the mechanics of Bitcoin. If he wanted to concentrate on personalities, he could have relegated some of the currency details to an appendix or appendices which just aren't there. Instead, in chapter one, we are told that bitcoins are mined by finding "the answer to a complex mathematical puzzle" along with many other simplified explanations that end up actually explaining nothing. In the acknowledgments, Dominic Frisby mentions that "the world of computer programming and cryptography was new to me six months ago..." and it shows. At the end of chapter one we are told "Well Done. You've just finished the hardest chapter in the book." Well, I would suggest that most people don't like being patronised. The patronising is all the worse because complicated detail just isn't there! I know no more about cryptocurrencies than I did when I started the book, and that was very little indeed.
I wasn't looking for a mathematical textbook on cryptography and cryptocurrencies, but I was really hoping for a book that would actually explain how Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies actually exist and work in practice. If you are hoping for the same, look elsewhere....more
After about fifty pages of reading, and in the spirit of magical realism, I couldn't help keep thinking of 'The Emperor's New Clothes'. I found myselfAfter about fifty pages of reading, and in the spirit of magical realism, I couldn't help keep thinking of 'The Emperor's New Clothes'. I found myself continually thinking that soon, very soon, things would pick up and I would start to feel I was getting something out of reading this book. Rather sadly, on page 150, I reminded myself there are dozens of books I have waiting for me on my bookshelves, and not enough time to read them all; I must spend the rest of my reading life as wisely as possible. So, I can't add myself to Salman Rushdie, Bill Clinton, The New York Times, The Sunday Telegraph, Darryl Hannah (?!), Emma Thompson, The TES, The Guardian, etc,etc, who all apparently believe the book has something special to add to literature or life; or even more for Emma Thompson who apparently stated: 'the book sort of saved my life.' The New York Times believes that the book 'should be required reading for the entire human race'; strong words indeed.
Well, this time in the spirit of 'being different', I thought the book was a real dirge.
It tells the story of several generations of the Buendia family and the town of Macondo, starting with the founding father Jose Arcadio Buendia and his wife Ursula, and proceeding down through the subsequent six generations expressed through their lives, loves, and relationships, and the effect of external events such as civil war. There will be more external events affecting the family after page 150, but I have little reason to believe that there will be much change in the general method of literary delivery; that is, a general telling of the story of the Buendia family.
The problem for me is that I couldn't find the least interest in any of the characters apart perhaps for a faint liking for Colonel Aureliano Buendia who developed a rather anarchic approach to life, something I can relate to. It was just a pity he had a paedophilic liking for his eventual child wife. In fact, incestuous and paedophilic behaviour looms quite large amongst the various characters. Another problem was that I felt that, on the whole, the characters had little overall substance. There was little in their described behaviour that gave any insight into them as real people. They were like cardboard cutouts on the stage of Macondo, coming and going and doing, as life and time rolled on, with no real stamp of personality in their actions.
If I were a student of literature, I would want to find out what Marquez was trying to achieve with his book. I would have a burning need to know. For a book to have been so well received, by so many, it must be achieving something; no, it must be achieving a lot. No doubt there are interviews in which he explains his literary intentions. I am left wondering how well those match the perceptions of the numerous enchanted readers.
But for me, it is time to leave the lives of the Buendias behind at the third generation, and move on with my own and more interesting life....more