- Series: Ballantine Reader's Circle
- Paperback: 402 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books (February 3, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375760903
- ISBN-13: 978-0375760907
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 315 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Coffee Trader: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – February 3, 2004
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“AN ENTERTAINING TALE . . . [A] LEARNED PAGE-TURNER . . . Despite the many characters and plot twists, Mr. Liss keeps his story in graceful motion.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“EXPERTLY PLOTTED AND EXCELLENTLY WRITTEN, and it has all the qualities readers want in novels—romance, mystery, suspense, betrayal and redemption, a feeling for how people lived in other times and places.”
—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
“UNUSUAL AND DIVERTING . . . Sometimes, as the book demonstrates with a nice twist, sincerity can be the greatest means of deception.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“[A] TRANSPORTING TALE OF FINANCIAL INTRIGUE . . . [Liss’s] writing is smooth and elegant—like a good cup of coffee.”
—The Boston Globe
“STRONG BREW . . . [A] LITERATE THRILLER.”
“Liss fashions a wide-ranging, labyrinthine plot. . . . He also has a historian’s eye for detail, and he creates an Amsterdam that feels very much of its time. . . . Liss’s novels are ultimately about a central truth of capitalism, which is that the system is bigger and more powerful than anyone within it. . . . The best moments of The Coffee Trader create a powerful sense of vertigo that’s something like the vertigo of finance capitalism.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“Masterfully plotted, brilliantly imagined, The Coffee Trader brims with intelligence, intrigue, and suspense. David Liss has written a riveting novel about commerce and faith, loyalty and greed.”
Author of The Ladies Auxiliary
“David Liss has cornered a very narrow niche of the literary market—historical financial thrillers. And it must be said: He’s quite good at it. . . . Lienzo’s world comes to life in great (and frequently grimy) detail, and the workings of the Amsterdam bourse are eerily similar to modern commodities markets. . . . [The book is] more latte than espresso, and all the more enjoyable as a result.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“The Coffee Trader is a very fine piece of historical fiction, and also a uniquely resonant one. . . . David Liss makes the foreign familiar as he immerses the reader in a bustling and intrigue-ridden past.”
—The Denver Post
“A DOUBLE SHOT OF PROSE SPICED WITH CHARACTERS AND COMMODITIES
AS ERRATIC AS THE DRINK ITSELF. . . .The Coffee Trader paints an evocative picture of Dutch life in the 1600s. Miguel Lienzo’s thrilling flim-flam schemes in coffee bean speculation and Liss’s insightful commentary on paper-tiger consortiums are rendered real and relevant. . . . Throughout Trader, Miguel remains a befuddling and charming rogue.”
“Good to the last drop . . . Chock full of intrigue, suspense, and financial shenanigans . . . Liss transports the reader back in time . . . handl[ing] the seventeenth century and all the nuances of Dutch culture with utter ease. Whether it’s his portrayal of the Ma’amad, the restrictive governing body of Miguel’s Jewish community, or the complex characters appearing throughout the novel, The Coffee Trader is an excellent example of historical fiction in its finest form.”
—The MetroWest Daily News
“The premise and setting of The Coffee Trader is unique, with smaller-scale historical detail as richly rewarding as Liss’s remarkable first work, A Conspiracy of Paper.”
—The San Diego Union-Tribune
“Each player in this complex thriller has a hidden agenda, and the twists and turns accelerate as motives gradually become clear.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A NOVEL OVERFLOWING WITH INTRIGUE AND DUPLICITY . . .Once you’ve wandered the back alleys of Amsterdam with David Liss, you’ll never look at your morning cup of coffee the same way again!”
Author of The Dress Lodger
and The Mammoth Cheese
“In his second novel, David Liss creates his own genre: the historical noir. The seventeenth-century Amsterdam he depicts is a wonderfully dark city of secrets, roiling with deceitful maneuverings and caffeine-fueled perils. The Coffee Trader is vivid, utterly absorbing, and more than a little relevant to our current age of financial skulduggery.”
Author of Extravagance
“The Coffee Trader is riveting as a historical re-creation, compelling as a tale, and relevant both about the morality of community—in this case, Jewish community—and about the ethical corruptions of an economy where value is a function of perception, competition, and, above all, manipulation.”
Author of Sacrifice of Isaac and Sea of Green
“Liss provides plenty of unexpected twists and turns to keep the reader’s attention glued to the page.”
—Book Street USA
From the Inside Flap
Amsterdam, 1659: On the worlds first commodities exchange, fortunes are won and lost in an instant. Miguel Lienzo, a sharp-witted trader in the citys close-knit community of Portuguese Jews, knows this only too well. Once among the citys most envied merchants, Miguel has suddenly lost everything. Now, impoverished and humiliated, living in his younger brothers canal-flooded basement, Miguel must find a way to restore his wealth and reputation.
Miguel enters into a partnership with a seductive Dutchwoman who offers him one last chance at successa daring plot to corner the market of an astonishing new commodity called coffee. To succeed, Miguel must risk everything he values and face a powerful enemy who will stop at nothing to see him ruined. Miguel will learn that among Amsterdams ruthless businessmen, betrayal lurks everywhere, and even friends hide secret agendas.
Top customer reviews
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The book takes place in seventeenth century Holland not long after the Dutch had gotten out from under their Spanish overlords. This was the time of huge changes in commerce. The Dutch developed new methods of trade including the joint stock company, commodities markets, futures, stocks, and many other forms of speculative trading.
The book makes me admire the Dutch even more, and think about what it means to say “it’s not personal, it’s just business”.
Liss is a fabulous writer, and the setting is sublime. I wish it hadn't been a financial mystery, because of all the thousands of things I'm interested in, stocks and trading and economics are not among them, and Liss goes no half measure --there is a lot of talk about trading and the consequences of actions in the market etc. Those parts were a struggle for me, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this exciting novel to anyone who likes historical fiction, the Netherlands, coffee, character thrillers, finance and trade, or just a good story.
The story follows Miguel Lienzo, a commodities trader in 1650s Amsterdam. Lienzo leads a life filled with fluctuations between liquidity and debt, and at the moment, he is suffering from the latter. Lienzo is offered an opportunity from a friendly acquaintance, the widow Geertruid Damhuis, to get in on the coffee trade. At the time, coffee is still new in Europe, but Geertruid is willing to gamble that it will soon be very popular. Lienzo comes up with a scheme that promises big money.
There are, of course, problems. He has debts and creditors who are eager to collect from him. He also has to contend with Joachim Waagenaar, a man who feels that Lienzo ruined him and wants payback. Most important, however, are the problems arising from Lienzo's role as a Jew.
Although Amsterdam is much more religiously tolerant than Spain (where the Inquisition is still afoot and where Lienzo barely escaped; his father wasn't as lucky), Jews still basically are their separate community, ruled by a committee of elders known as the Ma'amad. One of these elders, Solomon Parido, has it in for Lienzo, and despite Parido's claims of wanting to bury the hatchet, Lienzo knows that Parido is just waiting for an opportunity to exile Lienzo. Not too much earlier, a similar thing happened to Lienzo's friend (and an occasional co-narrator in the book), Alonzo Alferonda; now, Alferonda is forced to live as a loan shark. Beyond Parido, Lienzo must deal with his unpleasant brother, Daniel, even while living with his sibling and his beautiful wife, Hannah.
This is a book filled with plenty of intrigue, and just when you think you have everyone figured out, Liss throws an effective curve ball or two. This is an excellent book which should be enjoyable even if you're not big on historical novels. If you read this and like it, try Liss's other novels: A Conspiracy of Paper (which I believe won an Edgar Award) and A Spectacle of Corruption; all three books show that Liss is a writer to follow.