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The Whiskey Rebels

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  4,170 ratings  ·  652 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 519 pages
Published September 30th 2008 by Random House
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Best Historical Mystery
176th out of 1,018 books — 2,736 voters
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Recommended Historical Fiction
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Community Reviews

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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
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 ...more
Mar 12, 2014 Misfit rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Misfit by: Amazon Vine
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 ...more
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
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
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

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
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
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
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'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 ...more
Aug 15, 2008 Kirk rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fiction lovers/Historical Fiction
Recommended to Kirk by: Me - previously read Liss and loved it
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
A friend loaned me this book when she heard that I loved historical fiction, and if I hadn't been afraid of offending her I never would have finished it. Liss places all of his focus on plot development and none on character development, resulting in an interesting story populated by characters that are completely unlikable. I could not stand one of the main characters all through the novel, but I was hooked by the plot after pushing through the first 150 annoying pages. This is a book worth rea ...more
Steven Z.
I have been a fan of David Liss’ historical novels since they first appeared. THE CONSPIRACY OF PAPER, THE COFFEE TRADER, AND THE DEVIL’S COMPANY all possessed a historical flair that drew in the reader into a rather plausible plot line. Liss’ THE WHISKEY REBELS, though a good read, falls short of the quality of his first three efforts. The narrative of this somewhat light historical novel centers around two characters Ethan Saunders, and Joan Claybrook, who become involved in a plot to either s ...more
Whiskey Rebels is a historical fiction novel set in the late 1700’s, after the Revolutionary War. I don’t normally read much historical fiction, unless it has some sort of science fiction or fantasy element to it, but I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I don’t know the history from this time period very well, so I can’t vouch for its authenticity, but it came across as being plausible and consistent with what little I do know. Although there are real historical characters in the book, they are not ...more
Nov 08, 2009 Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
The Whiskey Rebels, by David Liss, was another free sample ebook, but I'd been meaning to read another one of Liss's books anyway, so I decided to start with the free one.

This novel is not about the Whiskey Rebels that you've heard of, but rather about a group of "Westerners" (residing near Pittsburgh) who'd been cheated out of their back pay from serving in the Revolutionary War, in exchange for nonusable land. They resort to selling whiskey, the most portable commodity they can create, but the
Jim Loter
Novels with alternating plot lines are tricky. I often find one more intriguing than the other and feel like I have to slog through every other chapter just to get back to the story and characters that I like. In The Whiskey Rebels , David Liss manages to weave two seemingly very different tales that remain individually compelling until they intersect - a rare feat.

Liss also faces a considerable storytelling challenge in that his main topic - bank share trading and taxation in the nascent United
Tammy Dotts
For many Americans, the time between the American Revolution and the Civil War is a blur. General U.S. history classes in school paid the period little mind except brief mentions of westward expansion and the presidents between Washington and Lincoln.

The Whiskey Rebels takes a closer look at this time, focusing on 1789-1791. The story follows two main characters. Captain Ethan Saunders left the Army of the Potomac in disgrace and, in 1791, finds himself caught up in intrigue swirling around his
What's this, a fiscal historical thriller? How can that work?

Oh, but it does. David Liss gives us a sharply written narrative with as much literary merit as action, and a complex plot teeming with interesting characters, from historical figures to likable scoundrels. It works even if your knowledge of early America and the Whiskey Rebellion are sketchy.

Two story arcs eventually come together here. Disgraced spy Ethan Saunders is drawn into the rivalry between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jeffer
The Whiskey Rebels takes place after the American Revolution. The primary characters are fictional, and many of the minor characters are prominent historical figures. The storyline was very interesting, and is written in the first person from the perspective of two different characters. One main character, Ethan Saunders, appears at the beginning of the book to be about as unlikely a hero as could be found. Ethan's story is told in alternating chapters with that of the other major character, Joa ...more
The one advantage of paying no attention to history when I was in school is that when I read historical fiction, I usually have no idea how the story ends. This book proved that point to me...I have only recently even heard of the Whiskey Rebellion (thanks to Randi Roads on talk radio) and the only thing I knew about Hamilton was that he is on the $20 bill and was in a duel with Aaron Burr. I now know much more about those events.

The story is told from two different people and in two different p
David Liss does meticulous historical research and then uses it to create a richly detailed time and place and people it with characters you really care about. In this case, the time and place is post-Revolutionary War Pennsylvania. The chapters alternate point of view of the two main characters, Ethan Saunders, a disgraced veteran, and Joan Maycott, a woman who moves with her husband to the frontier of western Pennsylvania. Their stories gradually converge and intertwine over the issue of the g ...more
This book couldn't be more timely amid corporate greed, market crashes, and billion-dollar bail outs. The story is told through the voices of 2 fictional characters, Ethan Saunders and Joan Maycott. I thoroughly enjoyed the character development and plot of this book. It is a historical novel, but the plot to destroy the Bank of the United is clearly fictional, making it easier to overlook the author's distinct liberal view on the actual historical events. Personal greed is the main theme of thi ...more
The setting of course is early America, Pittsburgh, Philidephia, and New York, and David Liss weaves a tale around the Bank of the United States and the Whiskey Rebels.
Ehan Saunders is a disgraced revolutionary spy whose only concern in the world besides where the next drink comes from is for Cynthia Pearson, who he loved and lost.
Joan Maycott is the other protagonist who with her husband is tricked into buying some worthless land near Pittsburgh. When things go very wrong she sets on a trail of
Oct 25, 2008 Dorie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of American history
Shelves: historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 ...more
Historical Fiction is my favorite genre to read and this one didn’t disappoint. Written in alternating chapters between the two main fictional characters was brilliantly done. It was set in post-Revolutionary war era and though the two main characters are fictional, there are prominant historical figures as well. The character development was fantastic. I did end up thinking it a touch too long. About ¾ of the way through I kept wishing for the ending so that I could finally get to see what happ ...more
This is our most recent book club pick. Set just after the end of the Revolutionary War, the book follows two threads - that of Ethan Saunders, an alcoholic war veteran tarnished with accusations of treason and Joan Maycott, a strong-willed woman set to make her mark on this new, American world. Both characters are engaging narrators and Ethan in particular is surprisingly funny. It’s an enjoyable, though lengthy read, and moves at a fast pace despite the heft of my hard cover version. As the st ...more
Maureen Lang
I listened to this on Audible, and I loved it! When the story opened, I have to admit being a little put off by Ethan Saunders. However he proved to be so honorable beneath his flawed surface that I can honestly say he's become one of my favorite literary characters. His self-deprecating humor is something to be studied!
This is a story set just after the Revolutionary War—filled with great research and familiar names in history who are fleshed out with their own flaws and passions. The writing i
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Chicks On Lit: July's group read The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss 120 52 Jul 31, 2014 04:18PM  
review 5 49 Jul 07, 2013 05:13AM  
Key West Library: Print vs. audio 1 7 Sep 09, 2011 01:22PM  
Key West Library: Revolutionary War fiction 1 3 Sep 02, 2011 12:55PM  
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I am a novelist living in San Antonio, Texas, though, for the record, I am not from Texas. I just live here. I have four novels published: A Conspiracy of Paper (which won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel) and A Spectacle of Corruption were both national bestsellers. They are set in 18th century London and feature Benjamin Weaver, a Jewish former pugilist, thief-taker for hire. Weaver will be ...more
More about David Liss...
A Conspiracy of Paper (Benjamin Weaver, #1) The Coffee Trader The Devil's Company (Benjamin Weaver, #3) A Spectacle of Corruption (Benjamin Weaver, #2) The Twelfth Enchantment

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“I enjoy my pettiness with a dose of wit.” 10 likes
“I did not tremble to lose what men called beauty, but I feared the loss of my spirit and humor and love of living, the things I believed made my soul human and vibrant.” 5 likes
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