Once a Bitcoin Miner: Scandal and Turmoil in the Cryptocurrency Wild West

Ethan Lou. ECW, $17.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-77041-539-3
Journalist Lou (Field Notes from a Pandemic) recounts his roller-coaster ride in the woolly world of bitcoin in this colorful account. Lou began researching bitcoin in the early 2010s while working as a journalist, then began investing in it, and by 2017 became a “miner” who produces cryptocurrency. Among the many personalities he encountered along the way were an eclectic mix of showmen, a businessperson who “looked really silly... sitting inexplicably on a blue exercise ball,” and crypto scammers who “peddle a sort of opiate... a hope and a dream.” Their fortunes play out variously as bitcoin values fluctuate wildly, feuds rage, Ponzi schemes attract government regulators, and financial disasters befall investors, in one case giving rise to rumors of a faked death. Lou’s adventuresome nature drives his story—one highlight is when he attends a bitcoin conference in North Korea that provides a rare view of the shuttered country—though he occasionally veers into the self-indulgent (a Reuters reporter “in wishing me well, said something specific about cryptocurrency, but didn’t want to be quoted.... I can promise some nice things were said to me, though”). And his explanations of what “mining” entails are cursory, so readers lacking technical knowledge on mining or blockchains will find themselves struggling to fill in some fundamental blanks. Still, readers interested in an in-the-trenches view of the bitcoin world will appreciate Lou’s willingness to tell all. Agent: Rob Firing, Transatlantic. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 09/21/2021
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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