Number Go Up: Inside Crypto's Wild Rise and Staggering Fall (Hardcover)
The “rollicking” (The Economist), “masterfully written” (The Washington Post) account of the crypto delusion, and how Sam Bankman-Fried and a cast of fellow nerds and hustlers turned useless virtual coins into trillions of dollars
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Washington Post, Financial Times, Chicago Public Library
In 2021 cryptocurrency went mainstream. Giant investment funds were buying it, celebrities like Tom Brady endorsed it, and TV ads hailed it as the future of money. Hardly anyone knew how it worked—but why bother with the particulars when everyone was making a fortune from Dogecoin, Shiba Inu, or some other bizarrely named “digital asset”?
As he observed this frenzy, investigative reporter Zeke Faux had a nagging question: Was it all just a confidence game of epic proportions? What started as curiosity—with a dash of FOMO—would morph into a two-year, globe-spanning quest to understand the wizards behind the world’s new financial machinery. Faux’s investigation would lead him to a schlubby, frizzy-haired twenty-nine-year-old named Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF for short) and a host of other crypto scammers, utopians, and overnight billionaires.
Faux follows the trail to a luxury resort in the Bahamas, where SBF boldly declares that he will use his crypto fortune to save the world. Faux talks his way onto the yacht of a former child actor turned crypto impresario and gains access to “ApeFest,” an elite party headlined by Snoop Dogg, by purchasing a $20,000 image of a cartoon monkey. In El Salvador, Faux learns what happens when a country wagers its treasury on Bitcoin, and in the Philippines, he stumbles upon a Pokémon knockoff mobile game touted by boosters as a cure for poverty. And in an astonishing development, a spam text leads Faux to Cambodia, where he uncovers a crypto-powered human-trafficking ring.
When the bubble suddenly bursts in 2022, Faux brings readers inside SBF’s penthouse as the fallen crypto king faces his imminent arrest. Fueled by the absurd details and authoritative reporting that earned Zeke Faux the accolade “our great poet of crime” (Money Stuff columnist Matt Levine), Number Go Up is the essential chronicle, by turns harrowing and uproarious, of a $3 trillion financial delusion.
About the Author
Zeke Faux is an investigative reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg News and a National Fellow at New America. He’s a winner of the Gerald Loeb Award and the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award and a National Magazine Award finalist. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children.
“Journalism schools will be able to use Going Infinite, Michael Lewis’ new book about the collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange and the fall of its boss, Sam Bankman-Fried, as a textbook. . . . Fortunately, readers interested in the story of the cryptocurrency scam and Bankman-Fried’s rise and fall can turn to a much more convincing (and more entertaining) book. That’s Number Go Up. . . . In telling this story, Faux has one major advantage over Lewis: Almost from the start, he had crypto’s number.”—Los Angeles Times
“Faux’s boisterous, masterfully written book is worth a read. . . . Faux’s cast of misfits and con artists never fails to entertain.”—The Washington Post
“Number Go Up offers a shrewdly skeptical view of crypto where Going Infinite is stubbornly credulous.”—The New York Times
“Mr. Lewis reveals little about the inner workings of crypto, which he says even SBF barely bothered to understand. For those wanting a rollicking—albeit jaundiced—examination of crypto’s underbelly, read Mr. Faux’s book.”—The Economist
“Everybody’s talking about the wrong Sam Bankman-Fried book. . . . Faux’s rollicking Number Go Up . . . is the far superior guide to understanding the FTX debacle and Bankman-Fried himself. . . . This is the strength of Number Go Up: It doesn’t pretend there’s something inside, just beyond our reach.”—Wired
“Combines sharp analysis, intrepid reporting, and punchy writing.”—The Wall Street Journal
“A clearly written narrative of the high and low points of the recent crypto boom and bust. [Zeke Faux] has a wry eye for details.”—Financial Times
“Not only a breath of fresh air but quite possibly the best book ever written about the cryptocurrency industry.”—Protos
“Laugh-out-loud funny . . . An often hilarious courtside view of the recent mania—and a useful reminder to blockchain evangelists about the many, many sleazy characters who inhabit their realm. Well worth a read.”—Fortune
“Number Go Up is a triumph of reporting, wit, and sheer exuberant fun. It—and it alone—makes me glad that crypto came into the world.”—James Grant, editor and publisher of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer
“One of the finest books of financial journalism I have ever read (and I read all of them).”—Peter Conti-Brown, associate professor, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
“Masterful, important, and utterly riveting . . . I devoured Number Go Up in almost one gulp.”—Diana B. Henriques, New York Times bestselling author of The Wizard of Lies
“A riveting, character-driven narrative through a blistering, vividly rendered hellscape populated by corporate lawyers, drug lords, terrorists, and former child actors.”—Jessica Pressler, contributing editor, New York
“This book is ludicrously compelling. I, quite literally, couldn’t put it down—and I don’t even care about crypto.”—Evan Osnos, National Book Award–winning author of Age of Ambition
“This book is what happens when the funniest financial journalist in America takes on the funniest story in modern finance. The results are as darkly hilarious as you could hope for.”—Matt Levine, Money Stuff columnist
“Riveting, scary, funny, unbelievable . . . If you want a front-row seat to one of the greatest business stories of all time, you should read Number Go Up now.”—A.J. Jacobs, bestselling author of The Puzzler
“Both a serious financial investigation and an incredibly entertaining romp . . . Zeke Faux seems to be the only one asking the uncomfortable questions.”—Sarah Frier, Financial Times/McKinsey award–winning author of No Filter
“The definitive book about crypto and the only one you’ll want to read.”—Max Chafkin, author of The Contrarian
“I loved Number Go Up, Zeke Faux’s clever, vivid, propulsive, terrifying, and often hilarious account of the cryptocurrency bubble.”—Ed Caesar, author of The Moth and the Mountain
“Number Go Up is an instant classic.”—Kit Chellel, co-author of Dead in the Water
“Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the mass delusion that was crypto.”—Bethany McLean, bestselling co-author of The Smartest Guys in the Room
“Hilarious . . . a dizzying safari of the surreal.”—Joshua Green, bestselling author of Devil’s Bargain
“Funny, enraging, racy, and profound . . . We were waiting for the first great crypto book, and Zeke Faux has written it.”—Oliver Bullough, author of Moneyland