The Cryptonomicon

The Cryptonomicon (also sometimes referred to as the Old Testament of the contemporary crypto community, I title it competes for with The Sovereign Individual) was apparently “required reading” for Elon Musk and Peter Thiel’s team members in the early days of PayPal. After reading the book myself, this is an urban legend I am inclined to believe.

Yes, it is heavy on the geek content, but it’s also surprisingly deep into philosophy and ethics; and was one of the first books (published 1990) to point towards the academic culture wars we are seeing the fruits of right now.

At 1100+ pages of dense content (don’t think you can skim read your way through this complicated plot; never mind the more technical cryptography sections), it is a heavy read; but equally weighty in worth.

If you are interested in the history and the future of cryptography, understanding WWII from multiple perspectives; the ethics of military decision making; the ethics of academic “ethics”; the morality of the moral arms race; and the importance of self sovereign identity and a store of wealth that is independent from local and international government interference – you could do a lot worse than carving the time out to read the Cryptonomicon.

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