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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 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. The Whiskey Rebels is a superb rendering of a perilous age and a nation nearly torn apart–and David Liss’s most powerful novel yet.


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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 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. The Whiskey Rebels is a superb rendering of a perilous age and a nation nearly torn apart–and David Liss’s most powerful novel yet.

30 review for The Whiskey Rebels

  1. 4 out of 5

    Charles van Buren

    Charles van Buren TOP 1000 REVIEWER A skilful blend of fictional and historical characters and events By Charles van Buren on February 19, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase A somewhat comp!ex novel of multiple characters, time frames and geographic locations, it is an engrossing mix of fact and fiction. Fictional and historical characters are skilfully brought together in a story of political and financial machinations and vengeance. The action moves back and forth among Pittsburgh, Phila Charles van Buren TOP 1000 REVIEWER A skilful blend of fictional and historical characters and events By Charles van Buren on February 19, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase A somewhat comp!ex novel of multiple characters, time frames and geographic locations, it is an engrossing mix of fact and fiction. Fictional and historical characters are skilfully brought together in a story of political and financial machinations and vengeance. The action moves back and forth among Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York. Central to the story are, of course, the Whiskey Rebellion as well as the Bank of the United States, financial speculation and fraud, Alexander Hamilton and his policies, the Federalists and the anti-Federalists, the violence of the frontier and the fictional violence and plotting to destroy Hamilton and his bank. The destruction of the bank, for good or evil, was finally accomplished in 1811. The breaking of a tie vote in the senate by vice-president George Clinton allowed the bank's charter to expire in that year. There is a little repetition in the writing but some may want or need that in a multi-character novel of more than 500 pages. There is not enough of it to be boring to most readers. For me, Captain Saunders career and his aversion to violence did not quite mesh but I did not find it odd enough to disturb my enjoyment of the novel. Nor did the few scenes of graphic violence bother me as they are part of both the plot and character development rather than gratuitous. The villain Pearson is so self-serving, so evil, so devoid of any redeeming virtues that he is a genuine delight to hate. If this were a stage play I can easily imagine an audience hissing and pelting him with rotten vegetables and fruit.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I loved Ethan Saunders in this book as much as I've ever loved a character in any book. He has a rakish and witty/sarcastic arrogance that is so engaging. No matter how bad things were for him (of his own doing or others), he never doubted he was all that. For some reason it made him so loveable. In a conversation with another man he promises "You have my word as a gentleman." The other man remarks that he is not a gentleman. He replies "Then you have my word as a scoundrel, which, I know, opens I loved Ethan Saunders in this book as much as I've ever loved a character in any book. He has a rakish and witty/sarcastic arrogance that is so engaging. No matter how bad things were for him (of his own doing or others), he never doubted he was all that. For some reason it made him so loveable. In a conversation with another man he promises "You have my word as a gentleman." The other man remarks that he is not a gentleman. He replies "Then you have my word as a scoundrel, which, I know, opens up a rather confusing paradox that I have neither the time nor inclination to disentangle." So many places I laughed out loud at his arrogance when speaking to the reader; "Think you it is easy to get a well-known and beautiful woman alone, away from her husband, at so public a gathering? Think you that, in the company of dozens of guests and nearly as many gossipy servants, a man can just pull such a woman aside into a private closet? It would not be easy for any ordinary man--at least I suspect it would not. i cannot say how ordinary men go about their business." Another is "Needless to say, it was inconceivable that I would be welome in, let alone invited to, their home. It was as well, then, that I did not limit myself only to those places where people might wish me to be." I am definitely going to read the rest of David Liss' historical novels...the research he must have done for this book is astounding. I had no idea about the financial banking crisis this country went through so soon after its founding. Brilliant, witty, entertaining and interesting! My perfect storm!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Misfit

    For over two months I have tried to get through this book and I am now calling *uncle*. I love historical fiction and I've not found many novels based on this period in US history so I was very much looking forward to this book. I have lost count of the times I have picked this book up and put it down for another. Unlikeable characters, a plot that takes too long to get moving and the worst sin of all (at least for me) is the alternating chapters with the first person point of view of Ethan and For over two months I have tried to get through this book and I am now calling *uncle*. I love historical fiction and I've not found many novels based on this period in US history so I was very much looking forward to this book. I have lost count of the times I have picked this book up and put it down for another. Unlikeable characters, a plot that takes too long to get moving and the worst sin of all (at least for me) is the alternating chapters with the first person point of view of Ethan and Joan. Phillipa Gregory and Alison Weir got away with it, but now it's getting very very old. Two stars.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I really enjoyed this book. I learned a lot about the Revolutionary period, and like any solid work of historical fiction, this book piqued my interest in learning even more. I enjoyed Liss's writing style and his humor. I was very surprised by how much of this wild story is actually based on reality. This book was a five for me for probably the first third, but I docked it a star for what, at times, felt like anachronistic humor (very funny, but still) and for too many characters who felt a bit I really enjoyed this book. I learned a lot about the Revolutionary period, and like any solid work of historical fiction, this book piqued my interest in learning even more. I enjoyed Liss's writing style and his humor. I was very surprised by how much of this wild story is actually based on reality. This book was a five for me for probably the first third, but I docked it a star for what, at times, felt like anachronistic humor (very funny, but still) and for too many characters who felt a bit one-dimensional. The audiobook was also good, but not great. Having said that though, I think if you're interested in Colonial America, you would likely really enjoy this one. I'm looking forward to reading Liss's others.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Part potboiler, part history lesson, part financial treatise, part love story, part adventure tale, this highly entertaining novel by Goodreads author David Liss takes us back to the early days of America in the 1790s, when Alexander Hamilton was setting up the Bank of the United States, America was developing its first stock markets, and the frontier border was in the rugged woods of Western Pennsylvania. "The Whiskey Rebels" is based on real historical events -- not only a financial crisis that Part potboiler, part history lesson, part financial treatise, part love story, part adventure tale, this highly entertaining novel by Goodreads author David Liss takes us back to the early days of America in the 1790s, when Alexander Hamilton was setting up the Bank of the United States, America was developing its first stock markets, and the frontier border was in the rugged woods of Western Pennsylvania. "The Whiskey Rebels" is based on real historical events -- not only a financial crisis that struck American speculators in 1792, but Hamilton's highly contentious tax on whiskey manufactured by the frontier people of Western Pennsylvania, which eventually led to a brief rebellion that was put down by federal troops. Despite some occasionally melodramatic foreshadowing, Liss knows how to weave an intricate tale, keep the story moving, and hold both the readers who like a plot-driven adventure and those who are drawn by a story of love lost and regained. And he does it with a very clever construction: two interwoven subplots following the two main characters, Ethan Saunders, a Revolutionary War veteran who has become a drunkard since being drummed out of the Army on false charges relating to his work as a colonial spy, and Joan Maycott, a woman who wants to write the first American novel but who has gone west with her carpenter husband, where they make fast friends but also encounter disaster. What's clever is not the interweaving device so much as the fact that Joan's story predates Ethan's and doesn't catch up with his plot until well into the book. Along the way, you will learn about whiskey making, pioneer life, the upper crust and seedier levels of Philadelphia society, the trade in bank stocks and government securities (never told didactically) and the details of early American life, from transportation to clothing to weaponry to food to drink (and plenty of it). This is a wonderful read and is by far the most ambitious of Liss's novels. A page turner with benefits.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Spuddie

    Historical fiction set in the immediate post-Revolutionary War period in Philadelphia and New York. The story is told from the point of view of two people: Ethan Saunders, a disgraced spy, and Joan Maycott, a young woman with literary aspirations. Ethan’s story begins in the present time while Joan’s starts in the past with her early life. Her and Ethan’s paths begin their fateful crossing when she and her husband Andrew trade in his war debt for a parcel of land in western Pennsylvania, which w Historical fiction set in the immediate post-Revolutionary War period in Philadelphia and New York. The story is told from the point of view of two people: Ethan Saunders, a disgraced spy, and Joan Maycott, a young woman with literary aspirations. Ethan’s story begins in the present time while Joan’s starts in the past with her early life. Her and Ethan’s paths begin their fateful crossing when she and her husband Andrew trade in his war debt for a parcel of land in western Pennsylvania, which was in essence the great frontier at that time. They find to their horror that they have been horribly cheated and Joan begins plotting revenge against all who have wronged her. Ethan, meanwhile, in Philadelphia in 1791, is content to be a sloshing drunk and occasional thief, drowning his sorrows at being disgraced and (wrongfully) branded a traitor and his loss of the love of his life, Cynthia Fleet, to another man, and her father who was his co-conspirator as a government spy, who died in disgrace with him. I can’t say too much without giving important things away, so I won’t, but eventually Joan and Ethan’s paths cross, and the stability of the whole of the new United States of America rests on what happens. Let me say right up front that this time period in American history is NOT one of my special interests. I generally just don’t care for it, haven’t read much about it, so I have no idea how much of what the author imparts here is pure speculation, pure fiction and which parts are based on solid fact. There are many “real” historical figures in this book, but I have no knowledge of whether their portrayals were accurate. The book also dealt in large part with banking, finance and the early days of what became eventually the stock market, which, on the master lists of things I’m interested in, falls right down there near the bottom with politics, knitting sweaters for yappy little dogs and designer handbags. LOL That said, once I discovered what the book was about, it rather amazed me that I DID keep reading—and I did so because the author made the characters and the story itself irresistible. I surmised rather early on that the lives of these two characters would intersect, I just wasn’t sure when and how, and I wanted to find out! The book is a little slow and plodding in some parts and the plot was twisty and quite complicated—which, I suppose was ultimately what kept me reading. That, and wanting to find out what ultimately happened to the main characters. But I have found this slowness to be true of Liss’s other books as well—and yet, when done reading and reflecting back, I have to say that I don’t remember those slow points much and tend to think on the story as a whole as a very interesting, engaging one. Liss does not sugarcoat life in post-Revolutionary war America, and portrays it as the difficult, sometimes brutal, often fatal life that it was. Recommended especially for those who enjoy historical fiction in this time period, anyone interested in the early days of the U.S. banking system, and for those who’ve read and enjoyed the author’s previous works. A- or four-and-a-half stars.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Rating: 4.5* of five Liss in true Liss form! I adored A Conspiracy of Paper and A Spectacle of Corruption and enjoyed greatly The Coffee Trader. Mr. Liss is a writer with several gifts, and seemingly displays them to their best advantage in works of historical fiction. (I was no fan of The Ethical Assassin since it felt undeveloped and unfinished to me.) Most unusually, Mr. Liss can take any business conflict and make it into a story. He tells us the story of the business panic that in part led to Rating: 4.5* of five Liss in true Liss form! I adored A Conspiracy of Paper and A Spectacle of Corruption and enjoyed greatly The Coffee Trader. Mr. Liss is a writer with several gifts, and seemingly displays them to their best advantage in works of historical fiction. (I was no fan of The Ethical Assassin since it felt undeveloped and unfinished to me.) Most unusually, Mr. Liss can take any business conflict and make it into a story. He tells us the story of the business panic that in part led to the Whiskey Rebellion in this novel (I grossly oversimplify the twists and turns, but that’s the penalty of wanting to keep this under 5000 words!) from the points of view held by two victims of honor. Ethan Saunders and Joan Maycott have wildly diverging aims in this novel; their conflict is completely believable; they are characters representing very real conflicts in American society at that time, and they do so without feeling like invented mouthpieces for a particular cause or view. This is Mr. Liss’s extraordinary gift to historical fiction, that his characters breathe enough life to seem as though their actions are inevitable outgrowths of their described and/or demonstrated interests. This talent above all others should win Mr. Liss a place on the bestseller lists, since he competes against authors of creative facility and character-building imbecility (eg, James Patterson, John Grisham) for male readership. Another of the gifts Mr. Liss brings to the table is his deftness of plotting. It takes a writer of skill to make a complex issue like a bank failure (and how timely is that choice of plot point!) into something exciting to the reader and highly personal to the characters. I was riveted to the descriptions of one character’s machinations to achieve a particular result to the failure of the Million Bank and the reasons for that character’s venomous hatreds and callously indifferent behaviors was both cause and effect in the spiraling, stomach-churning race that forms the last thrilling 40 pages of this novel. Really highly recommended for anyone looking to find a fine writer with a gift for storytelling coupled to a sense of timing that cannot be beat.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    The Whiskey Rebels I’ll tell you right off, I hate novels that are written in alternating chapters. My complaint is that one story is never allowed to develop without the interruption of another story, and though David Liss is a skillful writer, and the stories eventually intersect quite artfully, I still think it’s a lazy way to put a novel together. I know, I know, “try it yourself and see how easy it is…” Well, no, I won’t, but that doesn’t make it any less an irritation. The double-edged savi The Whiskey Rebels I’ll tell you right off, I hate novels that are written in alternating chapters. My complaint is that one story is never allowed to develop without the interruption of another story, and though David Liss is a skillful writer, and the stories eventually intersect quite artfully, I still think it’s a lazy way to put a novel together. I know, I know, “try it yourself and see how easy it is…” Well, no, I won’t, but that doesn’t make it any less an irritation. The double-edged saving grace is that each of the characters, Ethan Saunders, colonial super-spy, rake, and incipient (if not outright) alcoholic; and Joan Maycott, bright, independent, beautiful, strong, highly literate, and self-schooled in finance are interesting beyond equal. So even though I really wanted to skip one over the other for their equally great stories, I held my index finger to read in sequence, thus grumbling with every chapter end. Not a major complaint, but if I try another of Mr. Liss’s books and find the same strategy, I might just toss it unread. Be that as it may, the story, the milieu, and the characters of this novel are all fascinating. It took me a while to catch up to the genre mixing, but The Whiskey Rebels is an historical fiction frontier/financial thriller, and it succeeds at each of its games. The Revolutionary War, Hamilton’s bank, excise taxes, a nascent stock and security trading apparatus, the travails of frontier living (Western PA, near Pittsburg, my old stomping grounds,) the role of women in the colonies, the life styles of the rich and famous, and much more post colonial history gets covered in this entertaining volume. You can get the plot points elsewhere, if you need them. I recommend this one for quality writing, with dialogue and description that seem true to the period, and a good story.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Hm. What a letdown. The process of reading this book for me fluctuated like a sound wave: at times my interest was high, and in other parts I felt like this could not drag on any longer. If the book had not been an easy read, I suppose I would have quit much earlier on. My criticisms for this book are quite high in the historical side, since I disagree very much with the representations of Hamilton, Philadelphia, Burr, and other Federalist stars. Still, I could have forgiven this if I had truly Hm. What a letdown. The process of reading this book for me fluctuated like a sound wave: at times my interest was high, and in other parts I felt like this could not drag on any longer. If the book had not been an easy read, I suppose I would have quit much earlier on. My criticisms for this book are quite high in the historical side, since I disagree very much with the representations of Hamilton, Philadelphia, Burr, and other Federalist stars. Still, I could have forgiven this if I had truly enjoyed the plot and its fictional characters. Unfortunately this was not the case, and I'm left feeling even more unsatisfied. There was some major potential here, and Liss chose an incredible cast of characters. I'm disappointed how so many of them turned out. Also, was I supposed to be rooting for the Whiskey clan? This I never could decide either. Who were my protagonists? My biggest complaint, however, has to do with the character of Joan. I never fully believed her, and I think this mostly stems from the fact that I did not believe Liss's writing as a woman. What she said, what she did - it just did not seem comprehensible and womanly to me. And as for the character Ethan, I also never found him worth my time and sympathy. In the end, what do we learn from either one of these characters? I have absolutely no idea, and I am very disappointed to admit so. I like to think that even though this period was filled with turmoil and frustration with the budding government, there was still enough of a patriotic spirit left in the people to carry them through the challenges of an early nation. Perhaps this is an idealistic view of history that I have, but it's at least a conclusion that many historians have made. This? I can't decipher what Liss wanted me to conclude, and that sense of confusion is enough to make me disgruntled.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tasha

    I picked this up once off the shelves at the library but returned it. This time I didn't and I'm glad. The writing was really good and I loved the humor, the one MC was pretty funny. This is the kind of book that needs to be read in a quiet room as for me at least, I needed to concentrate at times to make sure I understood the schemes that were being plotted and executed. Plus, I wanted to just absorb the story with no distractions. As soon as I knew that I wanted to settle in with the book I kn I picked this up once off the shelves at the library but returned it. This time I didn't and I'm glad. The writing was really good and I loved the humor, the one MC was pretty funny. This is the kind of book that needs to be read in a quiet room as for me at least, I needed to concentrate at times to make sure I understood the schemes that were being plotted and executed. Plus, I wanted to just absorb the story with no distractions. As soon as I knew that I wanted to settle in with the book I knew I was in for a good read. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rich

    This. This is what a historical fiction novel should be. This is what a spy novel should be. I absolutely loved The Whiskey Rebels. The Whiskey Rebels takes place after the Revolutionary War when America was just starting to flex it's muscles and find out what it was to become. References to historical events, and wonderful fictitious plotting combined with truly fascinating characters kept the pages turning. The Whiskey Rebels reads as much like a thrilling spy novel as it does historical fictio This. This is what a historical fiction novel should be. This is what a spy novel should be. I absolutely loved The Whiskey Rebels. The Whiskey Rebels takes place after the Revolutionary War when America was just starting to flex it's muscles and find out what it was to become. References to historical events, and wonderful fictitious plotting combined with truly fascinating characters kept the pages turning. The Whiskey Rebels reads as much like a thrilling spy novel as it does historical fiction, which I find rather unique. The writing is tight and precise and the plot is intricate and puzzling. Usually when there are so many characters in novels such as this, it becomes cumbersome and confusing. Not here. David Liss does such a wonderful job in avoiding those problems that it wasn't until nearly the end of the book that I truly appreciated the genius of Mr. Liss to write with such clarity. You have my word as a gentleman. I'm no gentleman? Well then you have my word as a scoundrel. This era is not an era that I have read much about in the fiction world and this may not be a book for everyone. But if you like historical fiction, especially American historical fiction, this is a must read. And I almost forgot to mention, two of my favorite characters in a long time, Ethan Saunders and Joan Maycott.

  12. 5 out of 5

    J.R.

    I remember liking "The Coffee Trader" when I read it many years ago, and I'm trying to get more into historical fiction. This started strong and I liked both of the main characters - sure, shambolic drunken rogue who still manages to be preternaturally talented and/or lucky when the plot calls for it is a cliche, but it's a cliche that works. Unfortunately, this is a 500+ page book where there's only about 300 or so pages of plot. The book runs out of steam and becomes repetitive and the finale I remember liking "The Coffee Trader" when I read it many years ago, and I'm trying to get more into historical fiction. This started strong and I liked both of the main characters - sure, shambolic drunken rogue who still manages to be preternaturally talented and/or lucky when the plot calls for it is a cliche, but it's a cliche that works. Unfortunately, this is a 500+ page book where there's only about 300 or so pages of plot. The book runs out of steam and becomes repetitive and the finale doesn't really build to much of anything. Still, I enjoyed it, but this was a let down after The Coffee Trader

  13. 5 out of 5

    Siobhan

    This is my first book by David Liss, but it won't be my last. I enjoyed every second of it. I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about history, but knew little of the years after the Revolutionary War. The book encouraged my interest in learning more facts upon which the fiction is based. I listened to the audio version of it, and the reader does an excellent job. This is my first book by David Liss, but it won't be my last. I enjoyed every second of it. I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about history, but knew little of the years after the Revolutionary War. The book encouraged my interest in learning more facts upon which the fiction is based. I listened to the audio version of it, and the reader does an excellent job.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scot

    For historical fiction fans who enjoy a plotline rather complicated with intrigue, usually offering opportunity for some reflection on how the forces of capitalism affected political and social change in another time and place, David Liss is an author you need to check out. I thoroughly enjoyed one of his earlier books, A Spectacle of Corruption, and looked forward to this volume with some eagerness, as western Pennsylvania has long been dear to me, and I anticipated a tale offering a view of po For historical fiction fans who enjoy a plotline rather complicated with intrigue, usually offering opportunity for some reflection on how the forces of capitalism affected political and social change in another time and place, David Liss is an author you need to check out. I thoroughly enjoyed one of his earlier books, A Spectacle of Corruption, and looked forward to this volume with some eagerness, as western Pennsylvania has long been dear to me, and I anticipated a tale offering a view of politics, daily life, and social customs in late eighteenth century Pittsburgh. There is some of that, however, the focus of the novel is not on the Whiskey Rebellion itself, which actually occurred in 1794, but rather on the development of banking and commercial trade under Alexander Hamilton’s influence in the period 1789-1792. Much of the story transpires in Philadelphia, which was the nation’s temporary capital while the city of Washington was being built. Some chapters do present life in transit to Pittsburgh and New York, and the very dissimilar lives people led in those two places in this period. The tale is told by two very different narrators, in alternating chapters, and though their concerns and experiences seem worlds apart at first, as the book goes on Liss adroitly weaves their plotlines more closely together, so when we get to the ultimate climax (after about 500 pages) we have very layered understandings of the range of perspectives and concerns in a significant confrontation, and everything comes to a head. One of the narrators is Ethan Saunders, a dashing rapscallion and former spy for the patriot forces during the American Revolution, while the other is Joan Maycott, a deep thinking and formidable woman not afraid to take on a challenge. Part of the charm of any historical fiction is when and how we encounter real historical characters worked into the story, and the ability of the author to present these persons in a complex yet fair way, so we see them as well rounded characters and not just flat ones, given the story’s structure, but also as accurate (as much as possible) given what knowledge the readers might have of the historical moment. As expected, Liss does a fine job here, and among the recognizable figures we meet for those conversant with the Federalist period are Hugh Henry Brackenridge, Aaron Burr, Anne Bingham, Philip Freneau, and of course General Washington himself. In addition, I was quite pleased to see some positive sidekick characters (representing people of African descent in one case, Jews in another, and those involved in same sex relationships in a third) who would have truly been present in some of the historical situations described. Let me also mention, Saunders’ witty dialogue as he encounters a wide array of scoundrels, dangers, and ordeals is often delightful. There is one truly vile villain, so worthy of a theatre full of hisses at a melodrama, that I now realize I enjoyed his continuing and growing evils, confident that the more I came to hate him, the sweeter would be his demise.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tim Weed

    This book is good entertainment. Liss is an excellent writer, with a good sense of humor and an admirable ability to construct a lively, immersive scene. And he clearly did his research. The book as a whole, though, if frustratingly flawed. I found the plot too complex, too arcane in its attempted fidelity to the financial details of the period, to the extent that the main emotional thrust of the story gets lost. But a more serious problem for me had to do with the book’s characters, its dual pr This book is good entertainment. Liss is an excellent writer, with a good sense of humor and an admirable ability to construct a lively, immersive scene. And he clearly did his research. The book as a whole, though, if frustratingly flawed. I found the plot too complex, too arcane in its attempted fidelity to the financial details of the period, to the extent that the main emotional thrust of the story gets lost. But a more serious problem for me had to do with the book’s characters, its dual protagonists. It’s narrated in the alternating first-person POVs of Ethan Saunders, a Revolutionary war veteran and drunkard, and Joan Maycott, the wife of a settler in western Pennsylvania who becomes the head of a group of rebels attempting to disrupt the U.S. financial system. The risk of this dual approach is that if one or the other of your narrators is weak or implausible, the whole edifice of the story collapses, and unfortunately this is what happens. Saunders is great—believable, entertaining, proactive—but Maycott is not. The first part of her story, the abuse she and her husband face on the frontier, is believable and compelling. But her apotheosis—when she is supposed to become the charismatic leader of the rebellion—is not well done, and for most of the second half of the book she is an incomprehensible character. Her motivations are unclear, her voice is inconsistent, and she becomes a kind of zombie or marionette character who seems to exist merely for the convenience of the author’s interest in portraying the financial machinations that dwell at the center of his over-complicated plot. This is obviously a big problem for the integrity of the book, or at least it was for me. Still, as I said, this was otherwise well written and entertaining. Recommended if you're interested in the period.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mick

    So, you're into historical fiction. And, on occasion, you truly enjoy a political thriller. Yet you also tend to savor a good mystery. Should that be the case--along with the added bonus of engaging, clever writing--may I recommend THE WHISKEY REBELS? Set in America's infancy--a 1792 that saw the fragile American Experiment in danger of being torn asunder by the Hamiltonian Federalists and the Jeffersonian Republicans--author David Liss presents two protagonists, both with compelling, and quite So, you're into historical fiction. And, on occasion, you truly enjoy a political thriller. Yet you also tend to savor a good mystery. Should that be the case--along with the added bonus of engaging, clever writing--may I recommend THE WHISKEY REBELS? Set in America's infancy--a 1792 that saw the fragile American Experiment in danger of being torn asunder by the Hamiltonian Federalists and the Jeffersonian Republicans--author David Liss presents two protagonists, both with compelling, and quite bitter, stories to tell. Captain Ethan Saunders, a Revolutionary War hero falsely accused of treason, has fallen on some very hard times; Joan Maycott, who has embarked on a new life on the western Pennsylvania frontier, has lost everything she holds dear due to outright corruption and greed back East. Alexander Hamilton's infamous whiskey tax--a scandalous scheme to snatch revenue for his prized Bank of the United States--sets the wheels of the plot in motion, and sends Saunders and Maycott on an inevitable collision course. Liss tells a grand tale of manipulation and deception; his good guys (gals) have true feet of clay, while his villains tend to be one-dimensional caricatures of evil incarnate. The story does take one devil of a time to get going, yet the payoff is worth the investment (pardon the monetary pun)--even though it comes across as a tad too farfetched. Yet THE WHISKEY REBELS is a fun, informative read bringing thrills, intrigue, and suspense to the reader. For another foray into historical fiction that, too, is extremely well written, I would also recommend The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lisasue

    This author never disappoints. He truly understands the historical fiction genre. Everything is meticulously well-researched, and the story is always tightly written. I have read nearly all of his books, and not one has been a stinker.. This is actually more of an accomplishment than it sounds. It's impressive to be consistently excellent! This particular book is actually a 4.5 star book in my opinion, but I've rounded up, because, you know...no 1/2 stars here at Goodreads. I found the characters This author never disappoints. He truly understands the historical fiction genre. Everything is meticulously well-researched, and the story is always tightly written. I have read nearly all of his books, and not one has been a stinker.. This is actually more of an accomplishment than it sounds. It's impressive to be consistently excellent! This particular book is actually a 4.5 star book in my opinion, but I've rounded up, because, you know...no 1/2 stars here at Goodreads. I found the characters in this book, especially Joan Maycott, to be fascinating and believable. It's rare to have a good female character who has an equal amount of good and bad qualities, and Joan is done very well. And, although trivial, I do appreciate the included details of her dresses. One of the thing that I enjoyed the most about this book was portrayal of the early American financial maneuvering. It takes a good writer to convey the complexities of finance. Reading excellent historical fiction like this has basically ruined me for authors like Philippa Gregory and Michelle Moran. Now those kind of novels just seem uninspired to me. They simply aren't as clever as David Liss. As a side note, if you enjoyed this book, you may also enjoy Gallows Thief. It takes place in roughly the same time period, and has equally compelling characters. (less)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    This was another Early Reviewer book and the second I've read by Liss. He writes historical fiction and this particular book is set in America, shortly after the end of the Revolutionary War and deals with actual historical events and figures from the time. I thought it was really well written, and I found it much more engaging than The Coffee Trader, his other novel that I have read. (The Coffee Trader wasn't bad, I just found it dull at times). In any event, this book was quite good and has ma This was another Early Reviewer book and the second I've read by Liss. He writes historical fiction and this particular book is set in America, shortly after the end of the Revolutionary War and deals with actual historical events and figures from the time. I thought it was really well written, and I found it much more engaging than The Coffee Trader, his other novel that I have read. (The Coffee Trader wasn't bad, I just found it dull at times). In any event, this book was quite good and has made me interested to go back and read his two earlier novels. If you like historical fiction, give this one a try.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stacey

    The character of Ethan Saunders was rather entertaining and I enjoyed this author's witty writing. It did take me a little while to get in to the dual storyline as one is told from the perspective of Ethan Saunders in the novel's "present day" and the other from the perspective of Joan Maycott, which starts about 10 years prior. The story slowly builds as the two story lines come together. The author shows you how events can change a person and how the line between good and bad can become blurre The character of Ethan Saunders was rather entertaining and I enjoyed this author's witty writing. It did take me a little while to get in to the dual storyline as one is told from the perspective of Ethan Saunders in the novel's "present day" and the other from the perspective of Joan Maycott, which starts about 10 years prior. The story slowly builds as the two story lines come together. The author shows you how events can change a person and how the line between good and bad can become blurred. I ended up enoying this book and would recommend it. I will be looking for more from this author.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    More of a 4.5 star rating, but I'll be happy to round up to five. This is the first that I've read from David Liss, and I could have started nowhere better! The Whiskey Rebels was historical suspense at its best! I'm keeping this review short, because I'm eager to start my next book, but I'll just say that The Whiskey Rebels had great characters, plenty of historical / economic facts to learn from, some grim-dark moments, and a suspenseful ending. This was no short romp, either. This was well p More of a 4.5 star rating, but I'll be happy to round up to five. This is the first that I've read from David Liss, and I could have started nowhere better! The Whiskey Rebels was historical suspense at its best! I'm keeping this review short, because I'm eager to start my next book, but I'll just say that The Whiskey Rebels had great characters, plenty of historical / economic facts to learn from, some grim-dark moments, and a suspenseful ending. This was no short romp, either. This was well plotted and thought out.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Wayland Smith

    A lot of people don't know the details of early American history, just after the Revolution. Few have heard of the Whiskey Rebellion. Author David Liss uses the events that lead up to that as the basis for a great historical novel, mixing fiction and history, original characters with historical figures. Ethan Saunders served in the War of Independence as a spy. For his service, he was framed as a traitor, lost his mentor, his love, and his reputation. Many years later, a drunk and con-man, his o A lot of people don't know the details of early American history, just after the Revolution. Few have heard of the Whiskey Rebellion. Author David Liss uses the events that lead up to that as the basis for a great historical novel, mixing fiction and history, original characters with historical figures. Ethan Saunders served in the War of Independence as a spy. For his service, he was framed as a traitor, lost his mentor, his love, and his reputation. Many years later, a drunk and con-man, his only "friend" a slave he won in a card game, Ethan is a wreck of what he once was. Joan Maycott was a bright young woman with ideas ahead of her time and a man she loved greatly. When they went to the Western frontier (Pennsylvania at this point in history) they fell afoul of evil men, power grabs, and a crushing tax that eventually sparked a rebellion. Joan loses almost everything, and embarks on a plot to avenge herself. These two end up on opposite sides of a very intricate plot involving finance, the beginnings of the stock market, and Early American government. Their stories alternate chapters in slightly different times until they eventually meet up. It's a memorable collision. There are some great characters here, and most of the ones involved truly believe they are doing what's best for the country. They just believe opposing things about what that is. I really liked several of the characters, including Ethan, Leonidas, Joan, Lavien, and Cynthia. The different plots, major and minor, weave together really well. It's not the author's style, and I don't know what the story would be, but I'd love to see some of these characters again.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joe Kraus

    Most historical novelists seem to start out as writers who get interested in history and then turn it into story. That is, I gather, the method that even the best – like Hilary Mantel – have followed. David Liss does it the other way around, though. He began as a historian – and, I believe as a historian in the potentially dry field of economic history – and then he found a way to tell stories that gave a flavor of the historical clashes and processes he came to understand. I read his Conspiracy Most historical novelists seem to start out as writers who get interested in history and then turn it into story. That is, I gather, the method that even the best – like Hilary Mantel – have followed. David Liss does it the other way around, though. He began as a historian – and, I believe as a historian in the potentially dry field of economic history – and then he found a way to tell stories that gave a flavor of the historical clashes and processes he came to understand. I read his Conspiracy of Paper when it first came out more than 15 years ago, and I admired it enough that I wrote him with vague hopes that he might be looking for a job as an academic historian and would consider the place I was then teaching. As I recall, he wrote back kindly, expressing polite interest for after he’d finished his PhD, but I think he must already have glimpsed his coming career path. While this is now only my second Liss, I can see he’s been turning out quality historical fiction ever since. This novel, at a bottom line, is an assessment of Alexander Hamilton’s footprint on American life. Like a good historian – a better one that the otherwise masterfully talented Lin-Manual Miranda – Liss sees that legacy as mixed. On the one hand, Hamilton established a system of federal credit and wealth-generation that made the subsequent American experiment possible. Without Hamilton’s bank and credit regulations, the Revolution would have withered. On the other hand, the price of that system was that some spark of the true American rebellion got snuffed. To the degree that early America represented a Jeffersonian vision of small farmers, conquering the land and living in what we might retrospectively see as a nobler Libertarianism, Hamilton’s centralization of economic authority shifted power back to the merchant class. As characters here complain, Hamilton restored some of the inherent corruptions of capitalism that at least some American Revolutionaries understood themselves as fighting against. Liss deals with that dichotomous view of Hamilton by creating two protagonists here. Ethan Saunders is a disgraced spy, one who feels personally let down by Hamilton but ultimately supports his aim. Joan Maycott is, in spirit, a pure Jeffersonian, a young woman who wants to write the first great American novel, and who determines to help settle Western Pennsylvania with her young husband. When Joan is fleeced by land speculators – and when even worse follows as a consequence of her being tricked – she identifies Hamiltonianism as her ultimate enemy. The result is a novel in alternating chapters, with Ethan narrating one and then Joan the next (although there are occasional alterations in the pattern). Each protagonist sees some grey to the black-and-white character of what Hamilton represented, but the effect is that over the course of the novel we get a pro/con for Hamilton’s influence. Remarkably, Liss never lets that feel dry or forced. In fact, it’s only in retrospect that I see what amounts to the history lessons concealed beneath the novel itself. What we have on the surface is a pair of adventure novels – ones that ultimately intersect in satisfying ways – and a pair of nicely imagined characters grappling with the New World of the American Republic. The result is a legitimate thriller, a novel that moves quickly and that has a great deal at stake within it. I’m sure it’s possible to read this and think of Hamilton as merely an incidental figure, as simply the “client” that detective Saunders works for or the politician that rebel Maycott intends to bring down. You can read this, in other words, as a fast-paced adventure story. I enjoyed this throughout, but there are a couple spots where Liss is not entirely deft in his narration. The alternating chapters bother me less than I imagined they would, but it did bother me toward the end when he resorted to the sleight-of-hand of not quite telling us what was going on. (For example, Ethan would declare something like, “I determined to go to the one man who could tell me what I needed to know,” leaving it hanging that he was off to see, say, Philip Freneau, for no purpose other than to sustain some narrative uncertainty.) The hardest part of the literary effort Liss set for himself was to weave the two narrative perspectives together, and the seams do end up showing even as the story comes together effectively. As a side note, Liss continues here some of what he did in A Conspiracy of Paper where, also interrogating economic history, he explored the possibility of what we might call “tough Jews” in historical times. There, it was Daniel Mendoza, the great boxer, who becomes pressed into service as a quasi-detective. Here, it’s Hamilton’s agent Levian, a ruthless and effective spy who partners with Ethan to undertake the dirtiest aspects of their shared work. In any case, I recommend reading this both for its history and its own energy. Liss knows what he’s doing here, and I suspect he knew what he was doing 15 years ago when he made it clear he saw a better future for himself as a novelist than as a history professor.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey Demers

    I now officially wish that I could give books half stars. When going back and forth between "I really liked it" and "It was amazing." I find myself somewhere in the middle. I, myself am surprised that I liked this book so much as I did. For one, historical fiction is really quite hit or miss with me. (That isn't to say that I don't like it, rather that my tolerance can be low.) Also, I rarely ever like alternating chapters as a method to tell a story unless it is because there simply is no other I now officially wish that I could give books half stars. When going back and forth between "I really liked it" and "It was amazing." I find myself somewhere in the middle. I, myself am surprised that I liked this book so much as I did. For one, historical fiction is really quite hit or miss with me. (That isn't to say that I don't like it, rather that my tolerance can be low.) Also, I rarely ever like alternating chapters as a method to tell a story unless it is because there simply is no other way that the story can be told, as it is with Picoult's Handle with Care, and My Sister's Keeper, or Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. With David Liss' story of the Whiskey Rebels however, I find myself completely taken in with the historical setting. He is truly a man in his element as he beautifully crafts the scene and time for his readers. He has created unforgettable characters in Captain Ethan Saunders and Joan Maycott, both of which lead the alternating stories within this novel. While I do enjoy Joan Maycott as a character in this novel, I must say that out of all of the characters in all the books that I have read, Ethan Saunders will probably rank among the highest for the most enjoyable to get to know. He clearly steals the show and is absolutely hilarious in his dry wit. The difficulty of alternating chapters in novels is the fact that sometimes you get so attached to one story that you wish that it would rather just forget the other and stay with your hero. I find that Whiskey Rebels falls into this trap. While Joan Maycott and her troubles in the west are definitely interesting and after they get going later on in the book definitely a page turner, I was always hoping for the next chapter with Saunders and his adventures. I felt as though I was reading two completely different novels though I knew in the end that these characters must of course meet. And meet of course they do, but unfortunately it is brought upon the reader so quickly that it feels almost as a slap to the face. You do not see it coming nor have any idea of how it came to be. I know that on a second read through I would be more prepared for this but I did find it rather frustrating because while you are following two characters, you are not following them at the same moment in time, in fact, you are following them years apart from each other. It would have been helpful for his readers if the date and year appeared over each chapter, rather than just a few, for I had taken the year to mean that it was for both of my characters, rather than just one. Perhaps it was just my folly and no one else found it troublesome, but it is definitely something to be on the lookout for for future readers. Also, at least a background of understanding the the workings of the stock market, especially during this time in the nation would help any reader work their way through this book. It definitely didn't stop me from enjoying it, but I rather felt that I read through portions of this book like I do when men talk about sports, simply smiling and nodding, going, "Oh yes, I was quite pleased with that..." or "My Gosh! is that so..?" without really understanding the entirety of what was placed before me. But no matter, it makes this book no less fun to read. Yet other than the above stated, the book is really quite fantastic. While it is quite long, you don't really notice it but for maybe a few chapters near 3/4 in. It is fun, smart and a really good read. Where a lot of authors can write a good book yet fizzle out for their ending, Liss' ending is by far the strongest part of his book and he does not disappoint his readers. This will definitely be a book that I would like to pick up again in the future, though I think I shall brush up on the workings of the stock market before I traverse it's pages again.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mommalibrarian

    Read July 1, 2009 Another well researched book with a financial angle. The men are very manly and there are fisticuffs and lots of verbal action. The big pleasant surprise is a well written female character - Joan! This book is worth reading! Reread finishing Sunday, March 15, 2014 I had a sneaking suspicion that I had read this book before but there are two listings in Goodreads and my search brought up the duplicate (without my review). I am upping to four stars and here is my latest review. Think Read July 1, 2009 Another well researched book with a financial angle. The men are very manly and there are fisticuffs and lots of verbal action. The big pleasant surprise is a well written female character - Joan! This book is worth reading! Reread finishing Sunday, March 15, 2014 I had a sneaking suspicion that I had read this book before but there are two listings in Goodreads and my search brought up the duplicate (without my review). I am upping to four stars and here is my latest review. Think it was smooth sailing after the Americans won their war against Great Britain? Think all the founding fathers were best buddies? Not quite. Alexander Hamilton has convinced George Washington that the country needs a bank and Thomas Jefferson is all bent-out-of-shape because he envisions a nation of gentlemen farmers without all the corruption of financial, industrial England. Add in some Indians and some whiskey and some taxes and you have an exciting pager turner of a book. No big words, long descriptive elegies, bon mots, or philosophical rambling by the author - straight forward, historically correct fiction with lots of action. small sample of a funny part "I have never enjoyed traveling long distances by road. The movement of the coach prevents any reading or other amusement, and there is little to do that passes the time other than conversation with strangers, yet the quality of strangers in a coach is never high. Instead one must endure perpetual jostling, an ongoing merciless rump paddling, combined with rough swaying and shoving. In winter, when the windows must be closed against the cold, the stench is of stewing bodies, of breath and garlic and onion and unclean breeches. Above that is the smell, too, of old damp wood, wet wool and leather, and inevitable flatulence. It is an unkind experience."

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kirk

    So I wrote this about a month ago: Looking forward to reading what I'm guessing is going to be another great historical fiction - this time set in the early founding days of the Good ol' USA. And I was correct - it was both another great historical fiction from David Liss AND set in the early days of the US! A page-turning great historical fiction novel. Without giving much away the story focuses on early America where going "west" meant Pittsburg. Hamilton is in charge of our countries finances a So I wrote this about a month ago: Looking forward to reading what I'm guessing is going to be another great historical fiction - this time set in the early founding days of the Good ol' USA. And I was correct - it was both another great historical fiction from David Liss AND set in the early days of the US! A page-turning great historical fiction novel. Without giving much away the story focuses on early America where going "west" meant Pittsburg. Hamilton is in charge of our countries finances and to fund the Bank of the US imposes a tax on whiskey distillers...basically taxing the poor in the "west"(which they don't like too much especially since the tax enforcers is none too popular) Some bad things happen...revenge is plotted but to what extent and how...we have an tainted hero (a spy during the war)...falsely accusted as a traitor in the Revolutionary War and is now a down on his luck drunk (great character, great dialogue) but under it all is really a great guy, the kind you wouldn't mind calling a friend...combine that with a interesting cast of characters that wants to either sort everything out or bring down a country - mix in intrigue, crossing and double crossings, finance, espionage, a suberbly well researched account and feel of what it was like to live in that time and you have The Whiskey Rebels. I'm really not doing this justice right now...Just do yourself a favor and pick this book up... Also I loved the line in the end of the book on the notes section on Aaron Burr being the 1st VP to be involved in a shooting scandel...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I'd love to give this 4 & 1/2 stars - it's a rollicking tale from start to finish! The story, set in post-Revolutionary War Pennsylvania and New York, alternates between two engaging narrators: Joan Maycott, is a self-possessed young woman with who reads 'Wealth of Nations' and other economic treatises, and Captain Ethan Saunders, a spy for the American side during the war, falsely accused of treason and now fallen on hard times. Captain Saunders is a loveable rogue in the best tradition, an 18t I'd love to give this 4 & 1/2 stars - it's a rollicking tale from start to finish! The story, set in post-Revolutionary War Pennsylvania and New York, alternates between two engaging narrators: Joan Maycott, is a self-possessed young woman with who reads 'Wealth of Nations' and other economic treatises, and Captain Ethan Saunders, a spy for the American side during the war, falsely accused of treason and now fallen on hard times. Captain Saunders is a loveable rogue in the best tradition, an 18th century Capt Mal, and I'm sure if I met him in a Philadelphia coffeehouse, I'd recognize him immediately. Throw them together with the questions of early American statehood - Federalism vs Republicanism, slavery, the developing economy, settling of the western frontier, taxation and financial speculation, and you have a hugely enjoyable historical romp. Not only did I love every bit of it, but now I've discovered a new author. If you enjoy fiction with a historical tang, then you will adore this one. I look forward to getting my hands on every single one of David Liss's books.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Enjoyed the writing style and the theme, but the end left me wanting.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Redsteve

    This is probably my favorite novel by David Liss. Like his other works of historical fiction, this one blends real events with fascinating fictional characters and a complicated plot – or, in this case, with multiple plots. One of the two protagonists (Ethan Saunders) begins the book as one of the most contemptible “heroes” I’ve ever read – dishonest, bitter, alcoholic, lecherous, dishonorable,, suicidal, and probably much less of a “lovable rogue” than he thinks he is. Even his condemnation of This is probably my favorite novel by David Liss. Like his other works of historical fiction, this one blends real events with fascinating fictional characters and a complicated plot – or, in this case, with multiple plots. One of the two protagonists (Ethan Saunders) begins the book as one of the most contemptible “heroes” I’ve ever read – dishonest, bitter, alcoholic, lecherous, dishonorable,, suicidal, and probably much less of a “lovable rogue” than he thinks he is. Even his condemnation of slavery falls by the wayside when it is convenient for him. However, as the book progresses, the reader understands how he ended up like this, and the efforts he will make to do what he feels is the right thing. The other main character (Joan Maycott), is equally interesting and complicated - but, to avoid spoilers, I'm not going into any details. Their two story-lines initially confused me, but made sense in the overall plot. Despite the title, this novel doesn’t deal with the Whiskey Rebellion (although it does contain events that would eventually contribute to it). While whiskey-making and the whiskey excise tax feature in the backstory, much of the plots involve Alexander Hamilton’s Bank of the United States and stock trading (the latter which reminded me of Conspiracy of Paper – the 1st Benjamin Weaver novel). Most of the action takes place in late 18th Century Philadelphia and New York City, with a good bit of the backstory in frontier of western Pennsylvania. 4.5 stars.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    This novel wasn't what I expected. Having grown up in western Pa, very near to where the Whiskey Rebellion took place, this title appealed to me. What I got was an entirely different story taking place well before the rebellion. That said, I loved this book! Never have I laughed out loud so frequently while reading a book - and I average a hundred books a year these days. Ethan Saunders is simply one of the best characters I've met in a book! Despite its substantial cast, I was able to keep The Wh This novel wasn't what I expected. Having grown up in western Pa, very near to where the Whiskey Rebellion took place, this title appealed to me. What I got was an entirely different story taking place well before the rebellion. That said, I loved this book! Never have I laughed out loud so frequently while reading a book - and I average a hundred books a year these days. Ethan Saunders is simply one of the best characters I've met in a book! Despite its substantial cast, I was able to keep The Whiskey Rebels cast straight due in part to the excellent narration in the audiobook. I thoroughly enjoyed this story of patriots, scoundrels, greedy traders, and frontiersman - some fictional, some historic. Though the financial schemes had the potential to lose me, I hung tight through the satisfying ending. There are some instances of brutality but nothing gory and several uses of strong language early in the book, which didn't hinder my enjoyment. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book started strong and then, for me, devolved into too much description of financial intrigue. * I loved the character of Ethan Saunders. He was largely oblivious to his own faults, sardonic, and despicable, and I love a naively despicable character. * I wanted to love Joan Maycott, but I simply could not. I thought her transition from would-be novelist and homemaker to double-agent set on the destruction of a nation was too smooth and sudden. The conceit of her writing an “American” novel This book started strong and then, for me, devolved into too much description of financial intrigue. * I loved the character of Ethan Saunders. He was largely oblivious to his own faults, sardonic, and despicable, and I love a naively despicable character. * I wanted to love Joan Maycott, but I simply could not. I thought her transition from would-be novelist and homemaker to double-agent set on the destruction of a nation was too smooth and sudden. The conceit of her writing an “American” novel — American for its fixation on money — in a novel about money at the birth of a nation was cringeworthy.

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