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The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  7,433 ratings  ·  879 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 (first published March 23rd 2018)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  7,433 ratings  ·  879 reviews

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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 the planet's suffering: it's the sort of exaggerated, t
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
Julian Worker
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a clear, well-written explanation of the history of money, the rise of Bitcoin and it's potential benefits plus the uses Blockchain technology can be put to.

The author clearly doesn't like many other famous economists such as Keynes.

Altcoins don't fare well.

Having read a few other articles about cryptocurrencies, I admire this book even more. Having said that, I think an updated version of this book will be due in 2-3 years time as Decentralised Finance is one area where thi
Chris Pacia
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
While I'm sympathetic to many of the ideas in this book, they are very poorly argued. The first half of the book or so is about the economics of hard money. The author could have charitably considered the pros and cons of such a system and examined alternatives in detail. Instead we are presented with juvenile arguments that give the impression the author has read very little about monetary economics. To the extent alternative views are presented, the author does so only to strawman them. Profes ...more
Apr 06, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: waiting
I'd rather read dictionary from Z to A than try this book again.
I'm in 3/4 and there is still nothing interesting if you know a little bit about bitcoin and financial system.

A great read for university professors born before 1970 I guess.
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was ok
This book could have been much better... There are good parts to it, especially in the beginning, a historical review of money is very interesting. However pretty soon the author loses credibility in my eyes as it slowly switches from presenting facts and interesting analysis to the ramblings of a madman.

I have no issue with a certain level of subjectivity and bias in a book like this, but the extremes to which this goes is insane. As many reviewers previously mentioned already, the author blame
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook, stocks
I don't understand the many mediocre reviews here.

I have read several on this topic now...and THIS is the book that everyone should read to understand the history of money from beads and rocks to the evolution of digital currency. Current fiscal policy is explained as regard to how money works and of how digital currency can change the world and why you can be confident in it.

Governments have control over money, meaning they have control over you. Bitcoin offers freedom from control and inflati
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.)
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
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 aga
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 va ...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 sayin ...more
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Really terrible. I thought this book would give some technical information on bitcoin, but instead gave me some libertarians shitty views on whatever it seemed like he was thinking about at the moment he was writing. His take on Modern art was among the most memorably idiotic parts of this publication. What it did say about bitcoin was basic knowledge I could have found on Wikipedia, and even that was barely touched and poorly written.

90% of the book wasn’t worth reading in my opinion
Dec 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: crypto
Really poor. It’s concerning that Wiley would release an opinion piece, and it’s equally worrying that an academic would pen something filled with so many logical oversights at best, and outright specious arguments at worst.

There are canyon-sized gaps in the presentation of the economic perspective, an odd middle section veering into ideological personal views, finally tied up with a fairly banal rundown of Bitcoin. My guess is that the positive reviews here are from people who potentially don’t
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.
Jun 20, 2021 rated it liked it
I fell down the rabbit hole. I'd had it talked at me for months by colleagues during the 2020 bull run and had been in a position to stock some money in various places (full disclosure I have financial exposure to digital assets now among other investments). Turns out putting some money in it cranks up the research incentive exponentially over my already aggressive bookish baseline. Also turns out that this space is raising a lot of questions that are fascinating to consider in and of themselves ...more
Mar 04, 2021 rated it liked it
This is an entertaining polemic on behalf of the Austrian School economists and against Keynesianism, with the tweak only coming at the end that Bitcoin offers a way to return to a world before money was delinked from gold and began its inflationary spiral. I hardly feel qualified to evaluate these arguments as a layperson but Ammous offers food for thought about how the type of money that a society uses tends to prefigure all of its values. Inflationary money that loses value with time incentiv ...more
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
Kumail Akbar
The only interesting thing in this book was the description of how bitcoin works and the author's arguments for why bitcoin and not other crypto-curencies would 'prevail'. Otherwise its laughably bad in very many places, a mish-mash of typical goldbug-crypto-nerd cherry picked history with overstretched claims ...more
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.
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 traditionall
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
Oct 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a great first book for anyone that wishes to learn about Bitcoin. A close friends dad had asked my about Bitcoin right after I finished this book and I recommend he read the Whitepaper and then this.
Jan 01, 2020 rated it did not like it
It's harder to review that book than you think. It actually takes the author about 200 pages before he comes to the nitty-gritty (ie Bitcoin), only to replace it with a crash-course on the history of money seen from a dogmatic Austrian economics point of view, in so biased a way that you come to wonder whether this is a pamphlet, a manifesto, a history book, an economics book or something else that hadn't been invented yet. Most of the historical data is particularly messy, with a lot of cherry ...more
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.
Payne Walton
Dec 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
The title is really not representative of what the bulk of this book covers. Bitcoin isn’t even mentioned until the third act of the book. That being said, I’d recommend to anyone interested in economics and the properties of money.

The first third of the book taught me more about the role money plays in a society than any economics class I’ve taken over the last 3 years, which (sadly) isn’t saying too much. Saife dives into the history of currency and how money has evolved over the last 4000 ye
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
Huw Evans
Sep 24, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: economics, audible
This is a laugh out loud book. I am sure it is meant to be deadly serious. Being curious, I tried tried to find out about him but, barring his book, his self-publicising website and his assistant professorship at the American University in Lebanon, there doesn't seem to be much. However, he is clearly of the Viennese school of Economics where the break from the Gold Standard and the invention of fiat currency and Keynsean economics was the end of the world as they knew it, until the arrival of B ...more
Abby Qin
Dec 11, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: exploratory
Just some brief notes for the book I discarded halfway...
1. That the US economy didn't fall after WWII doesn't falsify Keynesian economics. The post-war US economy was boosted by exporting goods and services to European countries...
2. Keynesian economics encourages SPENDING, which includes not only consuming, but also investing.
In the author's logic, hard money will encourage saving, and savings can be used in investing. Yes and no. Yes, hard money will encourage saving. No, savings are not nec
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Saifedean Ammous is an economist and author of The Bitcoin Standard: The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking, the definitive and best-selling book on bitcoin, translated to 30 languages. He is also the author of The Fiat Standard, and the forthcoming textbook Principles of Economics. Saifedean teaches courses on the economics of bitcoin, and economics in the Austrian school tradition, on ...more

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August has arrived with plenty of interesting destinations for the discerning summer reader—from spooky offshore islands to an...
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“This is a historical lesson of immense significance, and should be kept in mind by anyone who thinks his refusal of Bitcoin means he doesn't have to deal with it. History shows it is not​ possible to insulate yourself from the consequences of others holding money that is harder than yours.” 6 likes
“its mere existence is an insurance policy that will remind governments that the last object the establishment could control, namely, the currency, is no longer their monopoly. This gives us, the crowd, an insurance policy against an Orwellian future.” 4 likes
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