I belong to the group of people who if they hear the word “crypto” think of AES, HMAC, symmetric ciphers, and how to make sure a VPN can saturate even big links. In the last ten years, I’ve had numerous occurrences where someone said to me “I got interested in crypto” and me going “Wow, wouldn’t have thought that” just to find out they want to tell me some bullshit about some weird coin and how that trades on which exchange. I tried to stay away from the “blockchain bros” as far as I could :)

But even for people like me with the conviction of Sam Bankman-Fried I had to finally dive into this topic to a certain degree. I came across the book Number Go Up: Inside Crypto’s Wild Rise and Staggering Fall from Zeke Faux. The book gives a good intro to the whole subject without losing itself in technical details. To be honest, if I want to do a technical deep dive into how every coin works I would not read this book. This book is for people like me who avoided the topic for a long time and just want to get a good overview of what has happened in the scene of coins, NFTs, and exchanges over the last decade.

Zeke Faux follows the trail of Tether and wants to find out how and if Tether (as a [stablecoin[]) is backed one to one. Along his journey and investigations, he meets with Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) and interviews him. While this book is not (and does not try to be) a biography of SBF it gives enough overview of SBF for the casual reader (which was exactly my approach).

The book did not change how I look at the cryptocurrency scene :) - it describes all the absurdity of ‘printing money’. The book touches on the dark side of cryptocurrency, diving into the rabbit hole of crypto scams and follows it to Cambodia. The insane ecological impact is touched briefly. It could be covered more - but it is also not Zeke Faux’s focus and as such probably better left to another book.

Overall the book is a good casual read on the subject.