The Coffee Trader

The Coffee Trader

Book - 2003
Average Rating:
5
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The Edgar Award--winning novelA Conspiracy of Paperwas one of the most acclaimed debuts of 2000. In his richly suspenseful second novel, author David Liss once again travels back in time to a crucial moment in cultural and financial history. His destination: Amsterdam, 1659--a mysterious world of trade populated by schemers and rogues, where deception rules the day. On the world's first commodities exchange, fortunes are won and lost in an instant. Miguel Lienzo, a sharp-witted trader in the city's close-knit community of Portuguese Jews, knows this only too well. Once among the city's most envied merchants, Miguel has lost everything in a sudden shift in the sugar markets. Now, impoverished and humiliated, living on the charity of his petty younger brother, Miguel must find a way to restore his wealth and reputation. Miguel enters into a partnership with a seduc-tive Dutchwoman who offers him one last chance at success--a daring plot to corner the market of an astonishing new commodity called "coffee." To succeed, Miguel must risk everything he values and test the limits of his commercial guile, facing not only the chaos of the markets and the greed of his competitors, but also a powerful enemy who will stop at nothing to see him ruined. Miguel will learn that among Amsterdam's ruthless businessmen, betrayal lurks everywhere, and even friends hide secret agendas. With humor, imagination, and mystery, David Liss depicts a world of subterfuge, danger, and repressed longing, where religious and cultural traditions clash with the demands of a new and exciting way of doing business. Readers of historical suspense and lovers of coffee (even decaf) will be up all night with this beguiling novel.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2003.
ISBN: 9780375508547
0375508546

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AureliaReads
Jul 14, 2014

Really interesting book. Learned a lot and got very involved in the plot and the vivid characters. What a daring gamble: maybe people could learn to like coffee and there might be money in selling it ! Will definitely read other books by Lliss. End of the book went on longer than needed (reduced its rating by half a star). It dragged in the final 100 pages or so.

JCLGreggW May 21, 2013

Excellent for both mystery and historical fiction fans, this novel takes place in Amsterdam in the 1600s at the dawn of commodity trading. Miguel Lienzo, a Portuguese Jew who fled the inquisitions, is a disgraced trader and a widower to boot, and risks his livelihood in an alliance with a mysterious Dutch woman over the future of a new product - coffee. David Liss writes a remarkable tale, giving absorbing historical details of Jews living in Renaissance-era Europe, as not only does Miguel have to navigate the trading floor, but dodge enemies within his own close-knit community in exile. Now commodities trading might not seem like an exciting read, but it's very much like gambling, and LIss is an expert at explaining the process and bringing the reader along with the rush as markets rise and fall and traders jump on (or off) the bandwagon. Also try Liss' other historical novels including A CONSPIRACY OF PAPER or AN INSTANCE AT THE FINGERPOST by Iain Pears.

Warjones Jul 25, 2012

Started it but found it not as interesting as I thought it would be. Will try another books by same author.

j
jbeckber
Jan 08, 2012

Historical fiction set in the seventeenth century around the stock market in Amsterdam, this was a very interesting read. The main character is a Portuguese Jew who has escaped the Inquisition and come to Amsterdam where there is more tolerance for Jews and opportunities. However he has lost much on the stock market, is a widower and is currently at the mercy of his younger brother with whom he lives, and the religious council whom he has offended. Because of all the back and forth between Miguel's problems, the novel was not as entertaining as I was hoping. However, I enjoyed the historical awareness.

s
sharon711
Jul 13, 2010

This engaging story about the politics of money and power is set in Amsterdam in 1659. Fluctuations in the brandy markets plunge Jewish trader Miguel Lienzo deeply in debt. A beautiful and charming woman of considerable business sense lures him into a dangerous partnership.

Success in this endeavour, trading in a new and marvelous commodity, coffee, promises to remake his fortune.

But he is challenged every step of the way... by his own brother, by his brother’s pretty wife, by his trading partners, and by Solomon Parido, the head of the Jewish community in Amsterdam, all of whom have agendas of their own.

The ending ties up all the many loose ends and resolves the bewildering mysteries Lienzo encounters on his journey.

In the process we learn about the life of Jews and women in this period and even more about how the modern stock market got its beginnings.

The book is a little slow in getting started, but once we get into the serious wheeling and dealing, the pace picks up. A good historical read.

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