RECOMMENDED READINGS Book authors, if you wish to have your book included in Best Crypto Books and Best Blockchain Books, please send for consideration, or have your publisher do so. My goal is to make this as useful and educational as possible in providing pointers to best cryptocurrency books. As with all books included, after reading them, I will and introduce users to quality new blockchain books. l will write an annotation. Please use "contact" button above to email Blockchain and Society for a mailing address. If that is difficult, please let me know and I will try to get it through my university's library. University of Minnesota has a fairly strong collection, especially at the Charles Babbage Institute for Computing, Information and Culture, for cryptography and we are adding books on cryptocurrency study.
Brunton, Finn. Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Utopians, and Technologists who Created Cryptocurrency (Princeton University Press, 2019).
I very highly recommend this excellent and compelling book. It is a well-executed and wonderful work of scholarship on anarchists, libertarians, cypherpunks, utopian, and other actors as individuals and social groups at the heart of attempts to build on immutable time stamping and use blockchain to create a digital currency. It is largely on the substantial prehistory and history of Bitcoin, through about 2017. It also shows how fast technology and society evolve. It misses (or sees as outside of scope) the 2012 Peercoin and 2015 Cardano altcoin shift to introduce "Proof-of-Stake," a vastly different and alternative consensus mechanism to Bitcoin and Litecoin's clever but devastatingly harmful (for the environment) "Proof of Work" model (mining). Proof-of-Stake is green. It spawned a broader range of social efforts with various altcoin projects. Also, BIPOC rates of crypto adoption are about double that of whites in the U.S. as finance and banking are areas of extreme discrimination. A terrific book and one indicative of how developments outside of (or too recent for) its core coverage necessitate more focus, such as on use, users, race, class, and gender. I very strongly recommend reading this deeply researched and exceptionally strong and tremendously engaging book!
Casey, Michael J. and Paul Vigna. The Truth Machine: The Blockchain and the Future of Everything. (St. Martin Press, 2018).
These two journalists with the Wall Street Journal provide a useful and highly accessible overview in this well-conceived, smartly organized, and engagingly written trade press book. It is a wide ranging and accessible survey that remains useful despite its fast-changing subject matter.
Dalio, Ray. Principles for Dealing with Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail. (Simon and Schuster, 2021).
Dalio founded and for 46 years has led (co-led) the most (financially) successful hedge fund in the world in Bridgewater Associates. He has authored several other respected books, but this is by far his best. It is a broad and ambitious survey and analysis of global politics and finance that draws on extensive historical analysis. The book provides critical context to the changes on the near horizon with digital currencies. Until recently, Dalio was skeptical of cryptocurrency (but not state digital currencies), he has now transformed to become a believer (and investor) in the strong future of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the cryptocurrency space. This book is interesting in both the breadth of its efforts to integrate patterns in financial and macroeconomic phenomena and policies from the past as well as integrating engaging reflections from his perch as a hedge fund leader and his experiences and the evolution of the unparalleled Bridgewater Associates.
De Filippi, Primavera and Aaron Wright. Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code (Harvard University Press, 2018).
Anti-trust law has not kept up with information technology enterprise and dynamics, surveillance capitalism, data flows and practices, and exploitation of users' data. Another technology that grew out the cyperpunk and code rebel movement, blockchain and cryptocurrency in major part seeks to use technology to disintermediate, automate, and protect privacy in ushering ina decentralized internet or at least many evolving crypto and blockchain applications. In the process it renders government monitoring of financial transactions far more difficult in some cases near impossible. Code rather than traditional law has ever more capacity to rule and structure practice. This well researched and learned book expertly explores the complex issues in the brave new blockchain world. It is a must read for anyone interested in blockchain and law and cybersecurity and law. Strongly recommended.
Diffie, Whitfield and Susan Landau. Privacy on the Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption, Expanded Edition (MIT Press, 1998; 2010 Expanded Edition).
A standout update to a classic work on the longer history of wiretapping, cryptography, the Clipper Chip, and more recent contexts of communication and privacy. If you have not read this amazing book on privacy and communication technology pre-history and digital history, I very strongly urge you to do so, it is wonderful and wonderfully important.
DuPont, Quinn. Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains (Polity, 2019).
This is a wonderful book on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies by a standout historian and social scientist who succeeds well at making a highly complex space understandable. This book is deeply researched and is the product of DuPont following this technology from the early years of Bitcoin forward. It writes about blockchain as social technology and is rich in placing crypto in its economic and potential use contexts. The author avoids hype but shows an optimism for what the technology can achieve. The diagrams and figures add greatly to this terrific book. Even though a few years old in a fast-changing field this is an excellent place to start your journey learning about cryptocurrency and blockchain tech! Highly recommended.
Fidler, Bradley and Quinn DuPont "Edge Cryptography and the Co-development of Computer Networks and Cybersecurity." IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 38:4 (October-December 2016): 55-73.
Terrific article, by two standout historians, on important and overlooked aspect of the history of cryptography and the legacy of Edge cryptography, Private Line Interface (PLI) from the early ARPAnet. This PLI crypto sat at the edge between the host computers on the ARPAnet and the network switches. The momentum toward the edge started with PLI has a strong path dependence in design and structuring as considerable crypto resources remain at the edges or end points of what makes up today's internet. It is a useful article consider on many levels, which includes vulnerabilities at the end of networks with the high decentralization of most cryptocurrency network design and practices. Strongly recommend article.
Galumbia, David. The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism (University of Minnesota Press, 2016).
Very inexpensive short paperback that makes a cogent and well researched argument that Bitcoin has attracted many cyberlibertarians that draw from right-wing thought in politics and economics such as Milton Friedeman's thoughts on free market capitalism, as well as even further to right political extremism. This is a book people should all read as it is a cautionary tale of what some Bitcoin holders and believers think. It extends to associate Bitcoin with blockchain more broadly to a degree. On Bitcoin itself, I think it has identified an important part of the story, but only a part. Bitcoin's adoption as digital gold has continued to broaden. The fact that some miners are seeking to go entirely or heavily to renewables and some of the "whales" or large holders (generally defined as 1,000 Bitcoin or more, currently $35 million or more) are not in this camp politically, investors such as Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, etc. Cuban has found the Republican Party to socially rigid and called himself a moderate Democrat. More broadly BIPOC ownership far exceeds those of whites percentagewise in the U.S. I personally find this book compelling and important to read as it defines a key and real part of Bitcoin, but I differ in thinking this an element of Bitcoin, but not the mainstream of what Bitcoin has grown into and that it holds even less for other coins. There are some blockchain projects on the left to far left that are focused on the environment, global inequality and poverty, addressing power imbalances, the extreme power of the Federal Reserve and what it means for everyday working people and BIPOC communities, etc.
Landwehr, Carl E. “History of US Government Investments in Cybersecurity Research: A Personal Perspective.” IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (May 2010): 14-20.
One the pioneers who did important work for many years at the Naval Research Lab and later led the National Science Foundation's Trustworthy Computing Program, now Secure and Trusted Computing or SATC. This is a valuable and unique source discussing government investment in cybersecurity research.
Leising, Matthew. Out of the Ether: The Amazing Story Ethereum and the $55 Million Heist That Almost Destroyed It All (Wiley, 2020).
This is not only a well written and highly engaging book to read (it reads like a thriller), but also is a well-researched and deeply informative. The 2016 heist was literally in plain sight on a public website as resources were siphoned off. It was a key moment in the early history of cryptocurrency. That Ethereum ultimately persevered and grew considerable in the years that followed (after a hard fork to split a new Ethereum and rename original chain Ethereum Classic, and like Coke, classic has not faired quite as well) is a testament to the strength of its smart contract's platform and its thriving ecosystem. An enjoyable read on an important and threatening moment in Ethereum's young but already prolific history in cryptocurrency, a project that is the leading decentralized app, or DApp, platform.
Narayanan, Arvind, et al. Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies: A Comprehensive Introduction (Princeton University Press, 2016).
I highly recommend this as gifted Princeton Computer Science Prof. Narayanan leads a team of four other co-authors to produce a special, standout book. It does a strong job introducing much complex technology behind blockchain, crypto, and digital currencies in a smart and impressive way.
Prasad, Eswar S. The Future of Money: How the Digital Revolution is Transforming Currencies and Finance. (Harvard University Belknap, 2021).
This book is a tour de force, a nearly 500pp. survey of fintech, cryptocurrencies, and the global change these technologies will soon have for countries and peoples throughout the world. Though long, it does not read as such, and I could hardly put it down. Prasad is a Professor of Trade Policy at Cornell and a Senior Fellow at Brookings, with the New Century Chair in International Economics. It is on international economics and monetary policy of the U.S., China, India, and other nations, global currency flows, and related topics. The learned book provides valuable insights on digital transformations and macroeconomics, this is where this impressive and learned work really shines. While Ethereum is part of the analysis, the microeconomic side of how smart contracts will transform organizations is not wholly ignored but less of a focus--blockchain and tokens are far more than money. Published in September 2021 this is a wonderful book to read in the near future. It is the type of book that will remain important but also geared to the here and now. It is so rich in its perspectives on central banks, treasuries, and government securities regulators of cryptocurrencies, as well as global trade, and financial and monetary policy.
Ragnedda, Massimo and Giuseppe Destefanis, eds. Blockchain and Web 3.0: Social, Economic, and Technological Challenges (Routledge, 2019).
The first important social scientific volume published on key economic, social, political, and legal elements, contexts, opportunities, and challenges with Web 3.0, the still fluid designation that has varying definitions, but mostly place blockchain and a decentralized internet as its core. It contains many important and well researched chapters. Especially compelling is a chapter by Philippa R. Adams, Julie Frizzo-Barker, Betty B. Ackah, and Peter A. Chow-White designed a project where they attended and analyzed “Meetup” events--eight meetups in Vancouver, British Columbia-- that were primarily, or at least in part, marketed to women, often to educate, encourage, or address gender imbalances in cryptocurrency. Ragnedda and Destefanis have assembled a diverse team of social scientists and the interdisciplinary and author diversity of this volume make it truly shine as an early and path breaking early scholarly analysis and writing on Web 3.0. Highly recommended.
Russo, Camila. The Infinite Machine: How an Army of Crypto-Hackers Is Building the Next Internet with Ethereum. (HarperBusiness, 2020).
The Ethereum decentralized applications platform and its token Ether used to pay "gas" or fees by developers and projects built on it are revolutionizing the crypto space. As Russo's compelling book argues, Ethereum is leading the way in building the next Internet, one that is decentralized and will continue to become increasingly impactful to the whole world. While Bitcoin is still larger in capitalization and garners more headlines, Ethereum is second in capitalization dwarfing all other altcoins five-fold. It is having impact far beyond store of value purpose thus far Bitcoin's main real use. Ethereum also is switching to Proof-of-Stake to tremendously reduce its carbon footprint and to better scale with transactions. The scaling challenge is also being assisted by Layer Two coins to Ethereum's Layer One such as Polygon. Leising book is a great journalistic feat and concentrates on a key threatening moment, but if you read just one book on Ethereum, I strongly endorse Russo's.
Schneier, Bruce. Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World. 15th Anniversary Ed. (Wiley, 2015).
I cannot recommend this enough as an introduction to cybersecurity history and risk in our digital world. It is a great and highly accessible read. Schneier is a computer scientist and cryptographer who has the true gift of bringing complex technology and contexts to broader audiences in easy-to-understand ways through thoughtful examples (a deserved bestseller with over 150,000 hardcover sales alone). Schneier is a frequent voice of all things regarding crypto and cyber who is interviewed often for his great insights (on NPR and other media). This is an absolutely wonderful book.
Shin, Laura. The Cyptopians [Pictured above with link and full review as blog essay on site.]
Slayton, Rebecca. “What is the Cyber Offense-Defense Balance? Conceptions, Causes and Assessment.” International Security 41:3 (2017): 72-109.
A leading historian and science and technology studies scholar (at Cornell) who does path breaking work on many areas of computer security, infrastructure, risk, and standards. This is an excellent article examining the critical question of offense and defense in cybersecurity, as well as policy, practices, measurement, and risk.
Slayton, Rebecca. “Measuring Risk: Computer Security Metrics, Automation, and Learning.” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 37:2 (April-June 2015): 32-45.
A standout article that addresses work by computer security scientists at the National Bureau of Standards and elsewhere in government in working toward mechanisms of measurement of metrics, and standards in assessing risk and setting policy.
Slayton, Rebecca and Brian Clarke. “Trusting Infrastructure: The Emergence of Computer Security Incidence Response, 1989-2005.” Technology & Culture 61:1 (2020): 173-206.
As security defense tools evolve so too do black hat techniques and practices to infiltrate, disrupt, steal, or otherwise harm. As such security incidence response has become absolutely crucial to minimize damage, maintain systems and data, and learn quickly. Slayton and Clarke make this important research their focus in this terrific article. The execution and presentation of this fascinating history make the article tremendously important and impactful.
Yost, Jeffrey R. “The Origin and Early History of the Computer Security Software Products Industry.” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 37:2 (April-June 2015): 46-58.
An article that addresses the early history of IBM's Resource Access Control Facility (RACF) and competing startup SKK's Access Control Facility 2 (ACF2). It examines how some users favored less robust security, determined acceptable loss in using RACF, and some organizational users favored the far better ACF2 (in its early iterations). It also addresses political economy and international laws on data protection in the 1970s.
Yost, Jeffrey R. “The March of IDES: Early History of Intrusion-Detection Expert Systems.” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 38:4 (October-December 2016): 443-454.
The first major history of SRI International's Intrusion Detection Expert System (IDES) and its follow-on NIDES, as well as an important NSA Research Program in this area. The article addresses the major contribution of women leaders to this field such as Dorothy Denning, Rebecca Bace, Theresa Lunt, and others, and gender issues in computer security.
Zuboff, Shoshana. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. (PublicAffairs, 2019, 2020 Pap.)
This monumental work is now available as an inexpensive paperback. It is less than three years old but already a classic in its importance, scope, and shaping of a continuing conversation about surveillance as a dominant theme in our global society and of capitalism's evolution with it. If you haven't read this book yet, it is essential reading to understand our world today. Highly recommended.
Bishop, Matt “Early Computer Security Papers." Part I, UC, Davis and NIST.
A tremendous service to the research community to bring together these pivotal early security seminal papers such as the Ware Report and of MITRE's David E. Bell and Leonard LaPadula that were circulated but not traditionally published for a variety of reasons. the youth of the field and real and perceived need for sensitivity or Secret or Top-Secret classification. Some like the so-called Ware Report [Ware, Willis H. “Security Controls for Computer Systems: Report of Defense Science Board Task Force on Computer Security” (RAND Report R609-1, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica CA, February 1970)]
Charles Babbage Institute Collections, among these...
Terry Benzel Papers
David Cavanagh Collection on Computer Security
Steve Lipner Papers
Stephen Lukasik Papers
Alex McKenzie Papers
Eugene Spafford Book Collection
NSF Trustworthy Computing/SaTC “Building an Infrastructure for Computer Security History.” 2012-2015. These were all done in person and listed in chronological order. Jeffrey Yost conducted 29 of them, all but Kain and Goodman, who were interviewed by my colleague Tom Misa. Many of these have more than a thousand downloads. They are weighted more toward access control security, intrusion detection, and standards. Prior to this project Yost conducted interviews with Willis H. Ware, Martin Hellman, James Bidzos, and Donn Parker.
1. Roger Schell (2012)
2. Barry Schrager (2012)
3. Rebecca Bace (2012)
4. Steve Lipner (2012)
5. David Bell (2012)
6. Tom Van Vleck (2012)
7. Steve Walker (2012)
8. Eldon Worley (2012)
9. Peter Denning (2013)
10. Dorothy Denning (2013)
11. Peter Neumann (2013)
12. Teresa F. Lunt (2013)
13. Susan H. Nycum (2013)
14. Matthew Bishop (2013)
15. Karl Levitt (2013)
16. Daniel Edwards (2013)
17. Seymour Goodman (2013)
18. William Hugh Murray (2013)
19. Robert E. "Bob" Johnston (2013)
20. Eugene "Spaf" Spafford (2013)
21. Marvin Schaefer (2013)
22. Carl E. Landwehr (2014)
23. John D. McLean (2014)
24. Richard Kemmerer (2014)
25. Terry Benzel (2014)
26. Butler Lampson (2014)
27. Earl Boebert (2015)
28. Ross Anderson (2015)
29. Richard Y. Kain (2015)
30. William Wulf (2015)
31. Anita Jones (2015)
Several seminal articles (a few to start, this will be expanded)
Diffie, Whitfield. “The First Ten Years of Public-Key Cryptography.” Proceedings of the IEEE 76:5 (May 1988): 560-577. Important reflections from the co-inventor of public key crypto.
Diffie, Whitfield and Martin E. Hellman. “New Directions in Cryptography.” IEEE Transactions on Information Theory IT-22 (1976): 644-654. The landmark paper that launched public key cryptography to the research community and industry. The basis for Diffie and Martin Hellman winning the Turing Prize and fundamental to making cryptocurrency possible.
Rivest, Ronald, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman. “A Method for Obtaining Digital Signatures and Public Key Cryptosystems.” MIT Laboratory for Computer Science Technical Memo 82 (MIT LCS TM 82). Like Diffie and Hellman, Rivest, Shamir, and Adleman are Turing Awardees for their work in public key cryptography. All five contributed to not only public key crypto and related digital signatures.
Scott Stornetta and Stuart Haber “How to Time-Stamp a Digital Document” Journal of Cryptography (1991). The foundational ideas of immutable stamping of digital content that is at the very heart of Bitcoin, altcoins, NFTs, DAOs, it stamped their place in history, but their work has been underappreciated by historians to date.
[This is an evolving list, please email us about your organization]
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