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The Coffee Trader: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

David Liss
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

The Edgar Award–winning novel A Conspiracy of Paper was 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Liss's first novel, A Conspiracy of Paper, was sketched on the wide canvas of 18th-century London's multilayered society. This one, in contrast, is set in the confined world of 17th-century Amsterdam's immigrant Jewish community. Liss makes up the difference in scale with ease, establishing suspense early on. Miguel Lienzo escaped the Inquisition in Portugal and lives by his wits trading commodities. He honed his skills in deception during years of hiding his Jewish identity in Portugal, so he finds it easy to engage in the evasions and bluffs necessary for a trader on Amsterdam's stock exchange. While he wants to retain his standing in the Jewish community, he finds it increasingly difficult to abide by the draconian dictates of the Ma'amad, the ruling council. Which is all the more reason not to acknowledge his longing for his brother's wife, with whom he now lives, having lost all his money in the sugar trade. Miguel is delighted when a sexy Dutch widow enlists him as partner in a secret scheme to make a killing on "coffee fruit," an exotic bean little known to Europeans in 1659. But she may not be as altruistic as she seems. Soon Miguel is caught in a web of intricate deals, while simultaneously fending off a madman desperate for money, and an enemy who uses the Ma'amad to make Miguel an outcast. Each player in this complex thriller has a hidden agenda, and the twists and turns accelerate as motives gradually become clear. There's a central question, too: When men manipulate money for a living, are they then inevitably tempted to manipulate truth and morality?
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

His A Conspiracy of Paper having won the 2000 Edgar Award for Best First Novel, Liss returns with another tale of historical intrigue. In 1600s Amsterdam, Portuguese Jew Miguel Lienzo ignores the strictures of his community and joins forces with a Dutchwoman to capture the coffee market.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 489 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0375508546
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (March 4, 2003)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FBFN0G
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,097 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Edgar Award-winning author Edward Liss returns with "The Coffee Trader," another elegantly written historical suspense thriller. In 1659 the bustling port town of Amsterdam was filled with refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, as well as schemers and rogues from all over Europe looking to make some gulden (guilder). The Dutch, after defeating the Spanish, turned their small country into a major economic power in Europe. Amsterdam became the most financially dynamic city in the world, thanks to the robust commercial activity of their commodities exchange, the world's first.

Miguel Lienzo, a Portuguese Jew, escaped the Inquisition on the Iberian peninsula and moved to the much more tolerant Netherlands. He created a home within the city's close-knit Sephardic Jewish community. Sharp-witted, and a bit of a rogue himself, Miguel thrives on the exhilaration of the Dutch bourse, but his trades of late have not gone well. On the brink of financial ruin due to sudden shifts in the sugar market, he enters into a partnership with a seductive, entrepreneurial Dutch widow with an eye for business, Geertruid Damuis. Together they concoct a daring plot to corner the market on a new commodity - coffee. Lienzo's plan has him going up against a powerful enemy, Solomon Parido, who sits on the Ma'amad, the Jewish self-governing body which controls all aspects of community life. Miguel had been betrothed to Parido's daughter, until his unfortunate lack of discretion caused the relationship to end, earning him Parido's lasting enmity. If Lienzo fails, he will not only be ruined but exiled as well...and nothing would please Parido more.

Liss meticulously recreates the 17th century Dutch city.
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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
If Starbucks Coffee was smart, they'd start selling David Liss's new novel THE COFFEE TRADER right alongside all their other caffeinated laced beverages. After winning the 2000 Edgar Award for Best First Novel for A CONSPIRACY OF PAPER, Liss has created another masterpiece relating to the historical fiction genre.
His second novel takes place in 17th-century Amsterdam in 1659 during the Golden Age. The book's main character is a Portuguese Jew named Miguel Lienzo, who has recently lost a bundle after the sugar market crash and is now trying to resurrect himself by searching for investors who would consider a new product called "coffee".
Broke and busted, Miguel must take shelter in the basement of his brother's house. Daniel, who also works at the booming commodities exchange, tells his brother not to waste his time vying for a lucrative fortune in the coffee trade. But after learning about the possible financial windfall from the provocative Dutchwoman Geertrud Damhuis, Miguel is utterly convinced that coffee will become a worthwhile investment.
However, being Jewish in Amsterdam during the Golden Age was extremely difficult for any promising entrepreneur. For instance, Miguel must be careful not to scorn the Ma'amad, the restrictive and mysterious governing body of the Jewish community. He must also be wary not to conduct business with anyone who is not Jewish, something extremely forbidden during the mid-1650s. Miguel also has to deal with his bothersome brother Daniel and his mousy wife Hannah, who seems to be falling in love with Miguel. On top of that, he has to deal with Hendrick, a man seething with anti-Semitism and a close associate to his business partner, Geertrud. Throughout the book, Hendrick refers to Miguel as "Jew Man.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read! March 17, 2003
I loved Liss�s first book, A Conspiracy of Paper, but I have to say I think I love The Coffee Trader even more. This one is set in 17th century Amsterdam and concerns a trader�s efforts to get a monopoly on coffee just as coffee is first emerging in Europe. This novel moves and feels like a thriller, and I kept turning pages late into the night to find out what happens next, but Liss doesn�t rely on tricks used by cheap thrillers � no piles of bodies or burning buildings, etc. His protagonist�s anxiety about debt, ruin and humiliation make this novel moving and real and very, very compelling.
Liss tackles a number of tough topics here: commodities speculation in the 1600s, the insularity and paranoia of the Amsterdam Jewish population, the corrupting nature of trade, and so on. He clearly knows his stuff, and I walked away from the book feeling like I had received a great history lesson, but the book never gets bogged down with details. Probably because the characters are so believable and compelling. Every character has some kind of secret agenda, but it is never what you think, and the novel�s conclusion is risky, but very, very satisfying.
This is the best historical novel I�ve read in years. It is suspenseful, funny and addictive. Even people who don�t like historicals should check it out.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining tale of coffee before Starbucks! March 8, 2004
An intriguing tale that winds through the financial center of old Amsterdam. Miguel Lienzo, a Portuguese Jew escaping persecution from the Inquisition of 1660, finds himself embarrassed for funds owing to a swindle that wiped out his fortune. He joins forces with a trading partner, and together they plot to corner the market on coffee, a beverage largely unknown and ignored at the time.
Lienzo's story is occasionally interrupted with passages from Alonzo Alferonda diary. Alferondo, a cunning trader of some wealth and power, has his own designs which unfold as the book progresses.
What's good: The story of coffee's emergence as the drink of high finance is marvelous and well-told. Liss also has a strong sense of setting, and it's easy to imagine old Amsterdam's streets, shops, and trading center. And there's no lack of intrigue here. Lots of twists.
What's bad: Too many twists. Hardly anybody is exactly who he claims to be. That might be fun in smaller doses, but it left me scratching my head as I tried to follow the ever-twisting plot.
Yes, The Coffee Trader is worth reading, but I wasn't fully engaged because I had to keep stopping to figure out the latest intrigue.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Would not recommend to anyone for any reason
I kept reading until I got half way through, and realized it wasn't going anywhere. The author turns his tale in small circles around a limited group of characters of which you... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Bruce Charles Skilbeck
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it.
Excellnt historical novel. Loved it.
Published 9 days ago by Miriam Y.
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyable Historical Fiction !
I considered this a fantastic book of historical fiction. I learned about the status of Jews in 17th century(? Read more
Published 19 days ago by inland sailor
5.0 out of 5 stars Win for anyone interested in Dutch imperialism and times of conceited...
Awesome book. Great concerns for what secular roles in judaism offer as opposed to ruination at the authority of haphazard tyrannical synagogue life. Very insightful. Read more
Published 25 days ago by Craig Brenner
4.0 out of 5 stars a coffee bubble exposed
I can't say that I knew much about the early days of Dutch trading. I certainly know more now and was entertained in the process.
Published 1 month ago by Sandra C. Hofmann
5.0 out of 5 stars Coffee becomes very popular. A history of the beginning
Great history of start of world wide coffee comsumption
Published 2 months ago by sandra
4.0 out of 5 stars How to Corner the Market!!! Win, lose and draw!!!
Because I am a historian, I don't read many novels any more. A friend suggested this book to me because she knew I was researching a history of coffee for a possible publication. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Chipper
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting historical fiction read
This is a book about a Portuguese Jew named Miguel whose family escaped to Holland to avoid the Inquisition. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. Edythe Newman
4.0 out of 5 stars good book
very interesting . don't want to write any more about these products while its nice to ask how I liked a product I don't want my reviews to be so long.
Published 4 months ago by suzan goldin
3.0 out of 5 stars Historical basis wins out
I was unimpressed with the story line but liked the historical facts underlying the story. Some parts rather ludicrous - characters and the "power of coffee" to change... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Idelle Abramson
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More About the Author

David Liss is the author six novels, most recently The Devil's Company. He has five previous bestselling novel: A Conspiracy of Paper, winner of the 2000 Edgar Award for Best First Novel, The Coffee Trader, A Spectacle of Corruption, The Ethical Assassin and The Whiskey Rebels. In 2008, at the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Bali, Indonesia, he was named an Artist for Integrity by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. No one is really sure why he should receive this honor or what it means, but it very possibly makes him the Bono of historical fiction. David Liss's novels have been translated into more than two dozen languages. He lives in San Antonio with his wife and children. Visist his web site at

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