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The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss

The Whiskey Rebels (2008)

by David Liss

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I will give Liss credit. He can write a fascinating historical fiction story based on genuine events. I know very little about 1780-1790's post-revolution American history. Liss does a great job portraying the Federalist-Republican divide and a country at the epoch of new beginnings. I was particularly interested in the bank shares certificate swindle being enacted by Duer. As for the characters, I grew to develop a soft spot for Ethan - I always seem to have a soft spot for characters who can be described as being "a wastrel and a scoundrel, but with a sentimental heart for so selfish a creature." Joan is a strong willed, intelligent woman able to hold her own in the male-dominated world of America at the time. While Liss employs shifting narrative, for the most part the story follows a linear path, which made for easy reading for this reader.

Overall, a solid historical fiction read with the added bonus for me of an intricate financial markets manipulation. ( )
  lkernagh | Jun 25, 2017 |
Although it took me a long time to read this book, I really enjoyed it and learned a bit about early American finance and history at the same time. Of the two narrators, Ethan was the stronger and more interesting. I found Joan's story moving but after a certain point I started to dislike her character and thought it unbelievable that she would have so easily convinced the various men to engage in her complicated, long-term and dangerous plot. But near the end the book really took off and I read straight through, rooting for Ethan the whole way. I recommend this book to anyone interested in early American history. ( )
  dorie.craig | Jun 22, 2017 |
A good story that will teach you something about the Whiskey Rebellion, but the female protagonist is irritatingly predictable. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
The book's back and forth between two stories makes it a challenging read. However it's worth the effort as the tales start to merge. ( )
  arning | Aug 22, 2016 |
What a great anti-hero! Very Sherlock Homes with a bad boy twist -- I totally see Robert Downey, Jr. Fun book so far, and maybe learning a little bit of history about the whole Whiskey Rebellion and the first challenge to the Government Bank. I am interested in this post-revolution period and location because I actually have ancestors who were given a patent (about 286 acres of land) to Western Penn (Washington County to be exact) for service in the Revolutionary War. One of his children brewed alcohol, so I have no doubt that they were very involved in the brew-ha-ha of the times (clever, I know!).

This book is about a complicated time in history and isn't for the faint of heart, but its ironic how some things don't change (we don't like taxes, and we still have bank/stock scares). Good read. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
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For Elinor and Simon.
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It was rainy and cold outside, miserable weather, and though I had not left my boardinghouse determined to die, things were now different.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
David Liss’s bestselling historical thrillers, including A Conspiracy of Paper and The Coffee Trader, have been called remarkable and rousing: the perfect combination of scrupulous research and breathless excitement. Now Liss delivers his best novel yet in an entirely new setting–America in the years after the Revolution, an unstable nation where desperate schemers vie for wealth, power, and a chance to shape a country’s destiny.

Ethan Saunders, once among General Washington’s most valued spies, now lives in disgrace, haunting the taverns of Philadelphia. An accusation of treason has long since cost him his reputation and his beloved fiancée, Cynthia Pearson, but at his most desperate moment he is recruited for an unlikely task–finding Cynthia’s missing husband. To help her, Saunders must serve his old enemy, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, who is engaged in a bitter power struggle with political rival Thomas Jefferson over the fragile young nation’s first real financial institution: the Bank of the United States.
Meanwhile, Joan Maycott is a young woman married to another Revolutionary War veteran. With the new states unable to support their ex-soldiers, the Maycotts make a desperate gamble: trade the chance of future payment for the hope of a better life on the western Pennsylvania frontier. There, amid hardship and deprivation, they find unlikely friendship and a chance for prosperity with a new method of distilling whiskey. But on an isolated frontier, whiskey is more than a drink; it is currency and power, and the Maycotts’ success attracts the brutal attention of men in Hamilton’s orbit, men who threaten to destroy all Joan holds dear.

As their causes intertwine, Joan and Saunders–both patriots in their own way–find themselves on opposing sides of a daring scheme that will forever change their lives and their new country.
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Ethan Saunders, a former spy for George Washington, is recruited by Alexander Hamilton to find his ex-fiancee's missing husband. Meanwhile, Joan Maycott and her veteran husband, amid hardship and deprivation on the western Pennsylvania frontier, find unlikely friendship and a chance for prosperity with a new method of distilling whiskey. The Maycotts' success however attracts the brutal attention of men in Hamilton's orbit, men who threaten to destroy all Joan holds dear. As their causes intertwine, Joan and Saunders--both patriots in their own way--find themselves on opposing sides of a daring scheme that will forever change their lives and their new country.… (more)

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