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    the story behind the book | kate tuttle

    Keeping up with the Winklevii

    david wilson for the boston globe

    Ben Mezrich first wrote about Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss in “Accidental Billionaires,” his 2009 book about the twins, Mark Zuckerberg, and others involved in the founding of Facebook. The author had stayed in touch with them sporadically, but had no idea what they’d been up to until a New York Times headline a year and a half ago announced that the brothers had become the first ever Bitcoin billionaires.

    Not that Mezrich was looking forward to writing about the popular crypto-currency. “The whole idea — the blockchain — just makes you glaze over,” he said. But the Winkelvoss story intrigued him. He began to research. “I dive into my stories,” he said. “I became the third Winkelvii twin! I got myself into the world of Bitcoin as much as I could. As I got into it more and more, I started to reassess the characters I had written in ‘Accidental Billionaires.’ There was much more to them.”

    In “Bitcoin Billionaires,” Mezrich explores the people and ideas behind the crypto-currency, which has fallen from its highest valuation but, he said, is currently climbing back up. “The price of Bitcoin is not indicative of Bitcoin’s importance,” Mezrich said. “Crypto is the future of money. There’s no way that 50 years from now we’re going to be paying for things with little slips of paper, bartering like medieval peasants. We’re going to be using something digital. We use digital 90 percent of the time to pay for things now.”

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    If Mezrich has re-assessed his portrayal of the Winkelvoss brothers, the same isn’t true of his take on Zuckerberg, whose public profile has taken several hits as Facebook has been criticized for political mischief and violation of privacy. “He turned out exactly the way we portrayed him, but reality has kind of caught up,” Mezrich said. “I think he always set out to create what is the monster of Facebook today.”

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    Mezrich will read at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Brookline Booksmith.

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    Kate Tuttle, a freelance writer and critic, can be reached at kate.tuttle@gmail.com.