A remarkably cleareyed assessment of bitcoin’s virtues and vices.

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UNDERSTANDING BITCOIN IN 46 SECONDS

UNCOMPLICATING DIGITAL CURRENCY

The rising popularity of bitcoin, invented in 2009 by the enigmatic Satoshi Nakamoto, has only been equaled by its persistent mischaracterization by supposed experts, according to debut author Russell.

A lack of understanding of bitcoin has led some financial giants like Warren Buffet to dismiss it as a tradable asset, preferring to view it as merely another digital payment delivery system. The author contends, however, that, properly understood, bitcoin meets all the conventional criteria for currency. It’s portable, divisible, of limited supply, and functions both as a medium of exchange and a store of value. In fact, bitcoin is essentially “cash for the Internet.” As far as bitcoin’s value is concerned, it’s determined much like any other currency—an amalgam of market factors and the simple fact that people decide it has value. One of the chief points of bitcoin’s attractiveness is its independence. It’s ungoverned by a central bank, single corporate entity, or nation, and even its open-source software is meritocratically superintended by freelance developers. And it operates without the burden of capital controls or any intermediary arbitrarily postulating rules about the kinds of transactions permissible. The author explains, using step-by-step instructions, how to acquire and use bitcoin, including the establishment of a secure online identity. And since public discourse regarding the currency is so often clouded by ignorance, Russell furnishes a list of credible and enthusiastic advocates, including Bill Gates, Ashton Kutcher, and Al Gore. The writing here is consistently accessible, mercifully so when discussing the more technical aspects of bitcoin, like the nature of its creation and distribution. Also, while the author is an unabashed enthusiast of the currency, he also discusses some of its weaknesses; for example, since it suffers from greater price volatility than other major currencies, it doesn’t serve well as a unit of account. Further, Russell expertly explains the different advantages and disadvantages of bitcoin from the perspectives of both retailers and consumers. It’s hard to imagine a more seamless combination of theoretical description and practical counsel.

A remarkably cleareyed assessment of bitcoin’s virtues and vices.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77505-450-4

Page Count: 202

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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