"The Whiskey Rebels": Better late than never

Financial panics and scheming East Coast money men have afflicted the U.S. since its inception

Published April 9, 2010 11:01PM (EDT)

Back in mid-October 2008, when the financial crisis and the presidential campaign were both at fever pitch, Random House sent me a review copy of "The Whiskey Rebels," a historical novel set in the United States in the period immediately after the Revolutionary War.

With a plot centering on the financial panic of 1792, speculators attempting to take over the fledgling Bank of The United States, frontier whiskey makers outraged at an oppressive excise tax, and  the very birth of a uniquely American rough-and-ready style of capitalism, "The Whiskey Rebels" enjoyed a publication date as timely as one could ever hope for for a historical novel set more than 200 years ago. Even a year and a half later, the echoes between Philadelphia and New York in the late 18th century and Wall Street in the early 21st ring true.

But, shame on me, I was too busy trying to keep up with the real world, and somehow never found the time to crack open the novel -- until earlier this week, that is, when I chanced upon it while reorganizing the piles of books that lie forlornly by my bedside, begging for attention.

Better late than never, huh? "The Whiskey Rebels" is one heck of a novel. It's a thriller, a mystery, a powerful realization of a young nation, all in one -- and delivers h some sweet insights into the twisted relationship the U.S. has always has had with money and its manipulators. If you are interested in the kinds of things I've been writing about for the last few years, and you enjoy a good read, you will love "The Whiskey Rebels."

As for me, I can hardly wait to start digging into Liss' most recent novel, "The Devil's Company," -- set in early 18th century London and featuring a plot that focuses on the British East India Company. Oh happy day.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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