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Thursday Review: Bitcoin Billionaires – Ben Mezrich | Sam Heaton

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Ben Merzich is best known for his 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires which focused on the dramatic events leading up to the invention of Facebook. This tale of betrayal and excess focused on Mark Zuckerberg’s relationship with the Winklevoss twins who sued Zuckerberg for stealing their idea for a social network. This book was adapted into the Oscar winning film The Social Network which starred Jessie Eisenberg. Bitcoin Billionaires tells the story of Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss who in November 2017 became the first people to make a billion dollars through virtual currency.

Armie Hammer as Tyler and Cameron Winkelvoss in The Social Network

Bitcoin Billionaires charts the Winklevoss twins’ journey from being completely ignorant about virtual currency to founding their Bitcoin investment company Gemini. The story puts the reader right at the heart of the Bitcoin phenomenon and the narrative is just as exciting as any thriller; the story is packed with larger than life characters and shocking, unexpected twists.

Mezrich’s conversational tone makes it easy for people who are unfamiliar with Bitcoin to understand some information about how the virtual currency works. He has a real talent for making the mundane process of typing computer code dramatic and compelling. One particularly memorable sequence sees Mezrich describe the protagonists depositing some documents at a bank as a ‘reverse heist’.

I enjoyed that the book had a fast pace but for some readers this might be the book’s biggest weakness – the characters are presented in broad brush strokes that occasionally risk slipping into caricature. People who want to learn about the software that facilitates the virtual currency might be disappointed by the lack of details.

If you are looking for a white-knuckle thrill ride through the seedy world of Bitcoin then I can definitely recommend Bitcoin Billionaires.

Published by Little Brown, available on Amazon

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Thursday Review: Bitcoin Billionaires – Ben Mezrich | Sam Heaton

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