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Book Review: Mastering Bitcoin

Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain. By Andreas Antonopoulos. ​​O'Reilly Media;; 408 pages; $34.99

It's not often that a promising technology and hype coalesce. Most recently, that occurred with Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency; while still relatively new, it has created a new global economy. In the second edition of Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain, author Andreas Antonopoulos creates a first-class Bitcoin reference. It provides the reader with a comprehensive understanding of what Bitcoin is, how it works, and how to use it.

Antonopoulos provides the reader with a deep technical dive and does a good job of explaining the difference between Bitcoin (a digital currency) and blockchain (its public transaction ledger). People confuse the two, thinking they are the same.

The book is written for end users who want to understand the technology and programmers who want to create technologies and software to operate within the Bitcoin ecosystem. There is a good amount of software code in the book. Those who lack the programming background can simply skip those sections.

Bitcoin's operation is not like that of a conventional currency. It lacks any central authority, and, in fact, decentralization is a core element. Combined with its peer-to-peer architecture, it nonetheless can provide near-complete transaction anonymity and highly effective security. The core areas of the Bitcoin ecosystem are discussed here—from wallets, transactions, and blockchain to the underlying security and cryptography that make Bitcoin a trusted and secure digital currency.

Anyone who is curious about what Bitcoin is and wants to gain a thorough understanding of it will find this a most rewarding book. Ironically, if you want to purchase the book using Bitcoin, you might have to read the book first to understand how to do that.

Reviewer: Ben Rothke, CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), PCI QSA (Qualified Security Assessor), is a principal security consultant with Nettitude.