Book Review: The Little Book of Crypto
An introduction to crypto with none of the BS, but plenty of the S.
Author Cal Evans bills The Little Book of Crypto as â€œA No BS Introduction To Crypto.â€� Evans also claims to be â€œregarded as one of the best crypto lawyersâ€� working for â€œthe largest independent crypto-only law firm on the planet.â€� This will become relevant later.
The book claims to provide the reader with unique â€œin-industryâ€� insights while serving as a great starting point for those who are beginning their cryptocurrency journey.
It also comes with a disclaimer of strong language, not recommended for readers under 18.
So does it achieve its aims?
The first thing you will notice about The Little Book of Crypto is that it isn’t all that little. Arguably, the 90-page Kindle version only takes up a tiny amount of electronic storage space, but the 237-page paperback is fairly regular-sized, albeit with a large font size.
The second thing you will notice is that it could have been a lot littler. Evans loves the sound of his own voice, and is not content to use five words when he could use hundreds. Each chapter is like a vague stream of consciousness, twisting off along numerous tangents until it arrives, slightly dazed and unsure what it has achieved, at the end.
Take the intro, which takes up almost 50 pages (thatâ€™s 20% of the book), to tell us what the author hopes to achieve with (the other 80% of) the book. Along the way, it takes in a cryptocurrency origin story, an admission to selling PCs with bootlegged copies of Windows 10 while at university, a five-page humblebrag anecdote, and a somewhat wonky take on how crypto can help the unbanked.
By this point youâ€™ve probably also noticed something else. Evans doesnâ€™t seem to be a native English speaker and didnâ€™t think to use an editor who was one (or arguably even use an editor at all). Iâ€™m a huge supporter of self-publishing, but it does sometimes encourage people to cut corners, and without the checks and measures of a (native speaking) editorâ€¦
Satoshi Nakamoto is mentioned twice in the intro. Both spellings are different. Both are wrong. Anyone wanna buy some Etherium? Dâ€™oh! The flip side is that terms such as â€œfall fowlâ€� and â€œno easy feetâ€� may bring a wry smile to your face. And you get some absolute poetic gems like this [on trading]:
â€œNo one cares about your style.. an idiot with a plan can make more money than a fool with money.â€�
But despite not treating us to an editor, Evans clearly wants us to like him. He tells us that he will treat us like adults (in the slightly condescending way that you will get used to if you persevere), and uses cloying â€˜bloke-in-a-pubâ€™ language, complete with unnecessary swearing.
Take this example, giving the authorâ€™s advice on how to deal with experts: â€œassume that everything they say and everything they have done is absolute shit.â€�
Evans really doesnâ€™t have much time for experts. As he himself attests, â€œthe industry is nowhere near old enough for anyone to be an â€˜expert.’â€� He also hates lawyers who work in crypto, as distinguished from himself, who is a â€œcrypto lawyer.â€�
He is also, according to this book, the exception to the experts rule.
So should we listen to what Evans has to say? If we can get through the lack of editing, the verbosity and rambling nature, and the cloying tone, does Evans present us with some killer content?
In short, no. The rambling nature leads to a lot of repetition and requests to go back and check a completely different section, during which Evans regularly contradicts himself. On page ten he says:
â€œNo one actually calls it â€˜Cryptocurrencyâ€™ – It is just â€˜Cryptoâ€™. Like many other technologies things get abbreviated and I want to talk to you like an adult; to do that, Iâ€™m not using its full industry term name like a child thatâ€™s in trouble with his mother.â€�
He then continues to use both, and later in the book even adds â€œcrypto currencyâ€� into the mix.
But worse than the contradictions are the glaring howlers and inaccuracies. Talking about token sales (or crypto raises as he calls them) he says, â€œThe law is so complex in this area that it is almost impossible to give a 110% accurate account of the whole landscape.â€�
I hope that isnâ€™t the kind of logic he relies on in court.
He also seems to believe that Bitcoin difficulty is designed to increase over time, and that as â€œmore complex equations are generated and more crypto enters the market, the need for miners also becomes greater.â€� Rather thanâ€¦ you knowâ€¦ more miners leading to an increase in difficulty.
He gets quite a lot of things almost right, but fudges it a little on the details, which is perhaps more dangerous than getting things completely wrong.
He seems to be one of those self-proclaimed â€œexpertsâ€� that he gets so worked up about; a bit of a chancer who stumbled into the industry by luck, and hasnâ€™t been rumbled as a fraud yet. My one piece of advice for anyone in that situation is, donâ€™t write a book about it.
Quite who regards him as â€œone of the best crypto lawyersâ€� is unclear. If he does have some deep legal knowledge of the cryptocurrency industry then he has struggled to get that across with the written word.
Early in the second chapter, entitled â€œThe Law?â€�, Evans quips:
â€œAfter all, if I taught you everything I knew about crypto there is a possibility I would be out of a job!â€�
My suspicion is that with this book he just has and he soon will be. Evans, to his credit, has a different point of view, assuring us that he has plenty more crypto knowledge in reserve, by following up with the expected:
â€œ(Although I am seriously doubtful that that amount of knowledge could be put into one book).â€�
And certainly not a â€œlittleâ€� one like this, eh?
So, would I recommend this book? Well, perhaps bizarrely, I am genuinely glad that Iâ€™ve read itâ€¦ in the same way that Iâ€™m glad that Iâ€™ve watched The Room. It made me smile lovingly at all the wrong places.
As a reference work on cryptocurrency, itâ€™s a noâ€¦ but…. Sorry, itâ€™s just a no. In the immortal words of the author, itâ€™s â€œas impacting as chewing gum on the sidewalk: annoying in every sense.â€�
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authorâ€™s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
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