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The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  1,249 ratings  ·  173 reviews
Bitcoin is the newest technology for money—find out how it fits in the future.
Bitcoin is the digital age's novel, decentralized, and automated solution to the problem of money: accessible worldwide, controlled by nobody. Can this young upstart money challenge the global monetary order? Economist Saifedean Ammous traces the history of the technologies of money to seashells,
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by Wiley
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Matt Weller
May 30, 2018 rated it liked it
As I see it, this book is made up of three distinct sections/essays:

The first 10% (5 stars):

Potentially the best explanation of the characteristics of money and how they work together to solve the "coincidence of wants" issue.

The next 50% (0 stars):

Think of the obnoxious frat bro who just read Ayn Rand for the first time and now has the world completely figured out, or the stoner who believes that the illegality of pot is the cause of all suffering in the world: it's the sort of exaggerated,
Jul 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended, but with caveats.

For full disclosure, I am a cryptocurrency (particularly bitcoin) enthusiast and was in this camp long before I read "The Bitcoin Standard".

I would agree with some other reviewers that the first third of this book, covering the nature and history of various media used as money, is very readable and interesting. Likewise, the latter third, going specifically into why the author feels that bitcoin is potentially suitable to be a new monetary standard (even better than
Martin Brochhaus
This book has a few flaws but I'm pretty sure, it is the most complete and easiest to understand and most factually correct book on bitcoin available right now. If you want to learn about bitcoin, and more importantly about money in general, this is a great and quick read by a clearly intelligent author.

Chapter 1 defines what is money in theory. Chapter 2 shows examples of primitive monies from the past. Chapter 3 raves about Gold as the best form of money man has known so far. Chapters 4-7 get
Warren Mcpherson
May 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: bookchain
Libertarian or "Austrian economics" explanation of money. Discussing the history and social impact then anticipating the role of bitcoin.
The book has a great explanation of the monetary property of gold. The stock to flow ratio was clearly described and illustrated a few times making a valuable concept very clear.
In other sections, the arguments were highly ideological. The argument about Keynes would more convincing if it was more disciplined particularly in describing specific positions. The
Rob Price
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
A well put together monetary economic history from an Austrian economics perspective. Despite the large uncertainty posed by the future, Saif holds strong and clear perspectives about the future of money and the cryptocurrency space. Many would find his perspectives controversial and potentially a little dogmatic. I do, however, appreciate his clarity of thought and his unwavering commitment to his views. Whatever the eventual outcome of the cryptocurrency revolution, Saif's contribution is a ...more
Skyler Jokiel
This book started off so promising. The first 30% is really solid. But then it seems like the editor stoped reading and the author decided to go off script. There were numerous attacks on institutions and process that just seemed petty. On top of that the attack’s rambled on with 0 citation. Instead of presenting the data and offering assessment for the reader to interpret the author added immense bias with no evidence. It got to the point that I stopped reading because even if what he was ...more
Bhashit Parikh
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Holy shit! This is one amazing book. I am writing this review abut 75% of the way, and I don't care what follows. This is a 5* book based solely on the content I have read so far. Contrary to my expectations, this book turned out to be much more than just bitcoin. Comments on J. M. Keynes alone are worth it. And then there are interesting perspectives on role the role of *sound* money in society. There are some apparent "flaws" that people might complain about, without taking away the central ...more
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best book on Bitcoin and the existing state of the world economy that I know. After almost daily reading/following the bitcoin space, this was the book I waited for. Covers gold, history of money, economics, central banking, all before Saifedean dives into Bitcoin and why it’s unique and has no equal. This will be my standard recommendation to anybody interested in Bitcoin or the crypto space in general.
Craig Jaquish
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: econ-finance
With all the hype in the crypto space, it’s gratifying to read a book about Bitcoin which (apart from a brief prologue) contains only incidental mention of Bitcoin for the first two-thirds of the book. Ultimately, as you’ll gather from the title, Bitcoin plays a fairly grand role, supplanting gold as the historical reserve standard, but by building a groundwork understanding of money’s emergence, history, and evolution, Ammous makes a sober arrival at his final destination.

Money has
Sep 16, 2018 rated it liked it
[Note: this is a pretty “rough” review. There was a lot of material in this book, and I hope at some point to give it a second read-through and then re-write this review, to provide a better survey of key points and a more nuanced treatment overall.]

First off, I’m grateful to Saifedean for writing this book. I found it informative and thought-provoking, and loaded with potent one-liners that capture some of Bitcoin’s most exciting characteristics, and refute some of the most common arguments
Raphael Leiteritz
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For me, one of the most important books I ever read. I have been following Bitcoin for many years and I am still amazed how well this puts Bitcoin in a historic perspective and explains it huge potential. This is a future classic.
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent book. I loved the first few chapters about the history of money, which led very nicely into why "Sound Money" is so important. Would highly recommend this to anyone who is investigating cryptocurrencies and wants to know what all the fuss is about.

The only thing that was a bit strange (and unnecessary), was the hate in the last chapter towards ETH. Yes the DAO was bad, but why spend so much time hating. Clearly the BTC maximalism kool-aid is strong enough to spill over into an actually
Michael Huang
Feb 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: blinkisted
Though the book contains some interesting stories about money, for the most part, it’s full of dogmatic assertions and circular reasoning of the kind from libertarian monetary school: All the boom and bust cycles are because the government controls the monetary policy, so let’s go back to Gold or the new age version — bitcoin. (Never mind in the mother of all bubbles, the tulip bulbs were bought and sold using gold coins.)
Sagar Acharya
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
1st half was glorious and opened my eyes as to how to look at currency and the whole system of money. I did read economics (Keynesian) before reading this book and most of it's theories seemed strange. They used rational agent just a bit too much and in long chain reasoning where error should've grown pretty fast. Saifedean clears it up and presents a case of how money use has evolved, from examples of Rai stones, shells, salt to metals like gold and silver and ultimately to gold. Since 1943 the ...more
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
The first two thirds of the book were dedicated to the need for "sound money". Then a light case for why Bitcoin meets that standard. Then a decent rebuttal to altcoin gibberish. I'm not economically literate enough to really critique Saifedean's economics. His reasoning and rhetoric is very easy to follow, but I don't know if it's totally accurate. The part on the cultural implications of fiat money was super interesting. Again, not sure if it's accurate, but it was a completely new idea that ...more
Snorre Lothar von Gohren Edwin
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-possess, audible
The book has a very good start that is far away from the bitcoin blockchain world! It starts with the history of economy and a lot of angels to why the current economy has it's troubles. It's is a bit biased but still a good line of argumentation.

The last 1/3 of the book is interesting for the people who do not have a good insight into how bitcoin and blockchain works. But it is a very basic level
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great book!
At some points really start disliking the book when he started trumpeting that all that is wrong in this word is to blame to unsound money. From bad art to world wars, all is to blame on unsound money. That is way to easy a world view, but ok.
I still give this book 4 stars, because the last few chapters of the book are great again. And overall I like people to have articulated opinions, so overall 4 stars and great to read.
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it

4/5 for the content but the writing (while true) reads very opinionated in some parts.
Shahrzad Pakgohar
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant book to deeply understand the monetary aspects of Bitcoin. By reading this book you have enough knowledge to evaluate the economic consistency of a cryptocurrency or an ICO.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great overview of the economics around bitcoin and Austrian economics. Someone who is familiar with these things already won't gain much from this book.
Carl Kruse
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most clearly written books on why Bitcoin has enormous monetary/world-changing potential. Saifedean Ammous has done an amazing job.
Alexander Vishnyakov
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: computer
Don't Trust, Verify. BTC for the win.
Arturo Herrero
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Fantastic explanation of what money is. Almost 2/3 of the book focus on the history of money: primitive money, monetary metals, government money, digital money, and Bitcoin.
Yousef M

Rather than dive into the emergence of digital currencies, their significance, and what the future may hold, this book takes a step back and asks “What is money and what purpose has it served historically?” before addressing “What is BitCoin and how is it the same/different as the money of the past?”


Author is an Economics Professor at Lebanese American University. When he’s discussing the origins of money early in the book and BitCoin/blockchain towards the end, his writing is
Salman Ansari
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This wonderful read will tell you everything you need to know to understand the economic case for Bitcoin. It also will enlighten you to the woes of our current global monetary policy since we deviated from a period of sound money using a gold standard. Saiefedean does not mess around, and pins the blame on Keynes and his followers in government for getting us into this mess. He also provides a clear template of how sound money could give us the privacy, sovereignty and stability most of us ...more
Doug Sleeter
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is more than just a book about Bitcoin. It goes deep into economics, human behavior, and the history and future of money.It discusses concepts such as "sound" and "unsound" money. Sound money is what allows trade and effective movement of value across time and space. It discusses how Britain adopted the gold standard beginning in 1717 in order to advance trade across the British empires throughout the world. But gold had to be centralized, thereby falling prey to government controls, and ...more
Jon Nylander
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just an incredible book - about two thirds of it is dedicated to describing sound money, in a very compelling fashion. The bitcoin parts are as inspired - though I am still not convinced of the ultimate success of Bitcoin I am very much more educated about the history of money.

The parts where he goes off on popular culture I am not as convinced about. He more or less directly attributes "decadence" to unsound money. I think he has a point and granted, there are no Michelangelos today, but jeez -
Taylor Pearson
One of the interesting side effects of the rise of Bitcoin is that suddenly a lot of people are interested in Austrian economics.

In The Bitcoin Standard, Ammous offers a take on why Bitcoin is the best version of what Austrian economists call “sound money” and why he believes that makes it the only cryptocurrency worth paying attention to.

A lot of the argument hinges on the notion of time preference—that a sound money which can’t be inflated away incentives people to think longer term, a shift
Sep 01, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a somewhat painful read. Not because the book as a whole is bad but because of the condescending and patronizing tone of the author. His continued ad hominem attacks against Keynes and his ridiculous detour in criticizing modern art are but two examples of this.

Read the first two or three chapters. They are very insightful. Maybe also read the last chapters about Bitcoin if you’re completely new to the subject. The rest can be safely skipped.
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