The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss
Release Date: Tuesday, September 30th
Ethan Saunders is about to be killed by the jealous husband of one of his conquests when he is suddenly rescued by a man he has never seen before. When this man turns out to be on business for the Bank of the United States and Alexander Hamilton – the man who Saunders believes accused him of being a traitor during the Revolutionary War – Ethan is suddenly pulled into a world of finance and intrigue.
Joan Maycott and her husband Andrew have sold Andrew’s war promissory notes in exchange for land out west near Pittsburgh. When their life on the frontier is not quite what they were promised, they try to make the best of a bad situation by improving the process of distilling whiskey, the only thing on which they can trade for profit in their world. Then Hamilton and the government pass the whiskey tax – a tax not on how much whiskey one sells, but on how much whiskey one produces – and destroys their ability to make ends meet.
If someone were to tell me that “The Whiskey Rebels” is an historical novel dealing with the Bank of the United States, finance, and taxes, I would assume that it is a snooze-fest (I believe that’s the official term). In reality, this is an amazingly well-researched and interesting book. I ended up staying up until 1:15 reading on Saturday night because I ‘only’ had 65 pages left to go and, after having read 440 pages, I just HAD to finish it – I didn’t want to wait until Sunday!
That being said, it was a bit slow getting into “The Whiskey Rebels.” For the first 80 or so pages I was impressed by the writing, the characters, even the storyline, but I was not particularly intrigued or engaged. I was able to set the book down as easily as I could pick it up. It took me walking away from the computer with “The Whiskey Rebels” as my only book and just READING it during my lunch hour. After that, I read it in huge swaths of hundreds of pages because I didn’t want to stop.
Those interested in very well-researched historical fiction about early America should very much enjoy this book – just make sure you give yourself the opportunity to really immerse yourself!