Format: Trade Paperback
Dimensions: 480 pages, 3.15 × 2.04 × 0.41 in
Published: January 30, 2001
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0804119120
ISBN - 13: 9780804119122
Read from the Book
One For some years now, the gentlemen of the book trade have pressed me in the most urgent fashion to commit my memoirs to paper; for, these men have argued, there are many who would gladly pay a few shillings to learn of the true and surprising adventures of my life. While it has been my practice to dismiss this idea with a casual wave of the hand, I cannot claim to have never seriously thought on it, for I have often been the first to congratulate myself on having seen and experienced so much, and many times have I gladly shared my stories with good company around a cleared dinner table. Nevertheless, there is a difference between tales told over a late-night bottle of claret and a book that any man anywhere can pick up and examine. Certainly I have taken pleasure from the idea of recounting my history, but I have also recognized that to publish would be a ticklish endeavor—the names and specifics of my adventures would touch nearly on so many people still living that any such book would be actionable to say the least. Yet the idea has intrigued—even plagued—me, no doubt due to the vanity that breeds within all men''s breasts, and perhaps within mine more than most. I have therefore decided to write this book as I see fit. If the gentlemen of Grub Street wish to dash out names of obscure connections, then they may do so. For my part, I shall retain the manuscript so that there can be some true record of these events, if not for this age, then for posterity
From the Publisher
Benjamin Weaver, a Jew and an ex-boxer, is an outsider in
eighteenth-century London, tracking down debtors and felons for
aristocratic clients. The son of a wealthy stock trader, he lives
estranged from his family-until he is asked to investigate his
father's sudden death. Thus Weaver descends into the deceptive
world of the English stock jobbers, gliding between coffee houses
and gaming houses, drawing rooms and bordellos. The more Weaver
uncovers, the darker the truth becomes, until he realizes that he
is following too closely in his father's footsteps-and they just
might lead him to his own grave. An enthralling historical
thriller, A Conspiracy of Paper will leave readers
wondering just how much has changed in the stock market in the last
three hundred years. . . .
From the Jacket
Benjamin Weaver, a Jew and an ex-boxer, is an outsider in eighteenth-century London, tracking down debtors and felons for aristocratic clients. The son of a wealthy stock trader, he lives estranged from his family--until he is asked to investigate his father''s sudden death. Thus Weaver descends into the deceptive world of the English stock jobbers, gliding between coffee houses and gaming houses, drawing rooms and bordellos. The more Weaver uncovers, the darker the truth becomes, until he realizes that he is following too closely in his father''s footsteps--and they just might lead him to his own grave. An enthralling historical thriller, "A Conspiracy of Paper will leave readers wondering just how much has changed in the stock market in the last three hundred years. . . .
About the Author
David Liss was born in 1966 and grew up in south
Florida. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the English
department at Columbia University, where he is completing his
dissertation on how the mid-eighteenth-century novel reflects and
shapes the emergence of the modern idea of personal finance. He has
given numerous conference papers on his research and has also
published on Henry James. He has received several awards for his
work, including the Columbia President's Fellowship, an A. W.
Mellon Research Fellowship, and the Whiting Dissertation
Fellowship. He holds an M.A. from Georgia State University and a
B.S. from Syracuse University. Liss lives in New York City with his
wife and can be reached via his Web site, www.davidliss.com
“Tremendously smart, assured, and entertaining . . . An intricate mystery, a colorful rogues’ gallery and, improbably, a history lesson on the birth of the stock market.” — Newsweek “THE PLOT DRAWS YOU IN FROM PAGE TO PAGE. . . . An evocation of English history that you can happily get lost in for days.” —CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT The New York Times “REMARKABLE . . . ENGAGING . . . The first stock market crash in the English-speaking world is about to burst, and a whole way of life is about to burst with it.” — The New York Times Book Review “A VORTEX OF STOCK FRAUD AND MURDER . . . [A] GENRE-STRETCHING FIRST NOVEL.” — Time “HIGHLY ENTERTAINING . . . FIENDISHLY INTRICATE . . . Compares favorably with An Instance of the Fingerpost .” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review) “A tale of eighteenth-century finance, murder, and religion that is a remarkable debut and a thoroughly satisfying novel.” —ARTHUR GOLDEN Author of Memoirs of a Geisha “An old-fashioned detective story, with London’s teeming streets and taverns as its backdrop. . . . An artfully constructed potboiler: the sort of thing that would make a good ‘Mystery!’ series on PBS.” — The New Yorker “ A Conspiracy of Paper is exciting, intelligent, and witty—a rare combination in historical novels. It is rich in intriguing detail and peopled with fascinating characters.
1. Do you think Weaver should have constantly bailed Miriam out
of trouble? What do you think about him not getting the girl in the
end? Did you want to see them together or was the books'' ending
2. Did this novel make you change your sentiments about the current
stock market? Did it make you want to become more cautious in your
own investments? Did you read it as a cautionary tale?
3. For many centuries orthodox Jewish communities have lived inside
European societies but also outside of them. In what ways did
Lienzo''s fear harm his son? In what ways did it protect him? Do
you think the Jews of the eighteenth-century London did themselves
a service or disservice by closing themselves off?
4. The "gentlemen" at Sir Owen''s club put Weaver in the
uncomfortable position of having to speak for his entire culture.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were the only minority
(religious, racial, economic, etc.)? How did it feel to have a
group looking at you as the spokesperson for your community? Can
you think of any modern parallels?
5. Instead of praising his son, Benjamin, for defending the elderly
Mrs. Cantas from anti-Semites, Lienzo strikes him? What did you
think of Lienzo''s behavior? What would it be like to live in
constant fear of drawing attention to your community? Can you think
of any modern parallels?
6. Who do you think was more honorable in his ways of doing
business: the criminal Jonathan Wild, or Nathan Adelman? Why?
7. Near the end of the book, Adelman says to Weaver about the
murder of Sir Owen, "You need only to believe, Mr. Weaver." And
Benjamin answers, "Like the new finance . . .it is true only so
long as we believe it is true." What do you think the author is
trying to say about the future of the stock market by letting
Weaver believe someone he knows is unreliable?
8. Have you ever been caught up in a mania like the South Sea
Bubble? What did it teach you about fads? Would you allow it to
9. As a child, Benjamin idolized boxers for their ability to fight.
Compare his physicality to his relatives'' intellectual and
financial pursuits. Do you think Weaver''s attraction to boxing was
a response to the precariousness of his community?
10. At the end of the book the powerful Adelman comes out on top.
Yet he is a member of a disempowered group. Do the many
conspiracies in this book ultimately benefit the disenfranchised,
or the powerful?
11. Discuss the title A Conspiracy of Paper. Do you think
the author used the word "paper" to evoke written histories and
novels as well as money? Do you believe that history is written by
those who come out on top? How do you think "paper" will fare in
our increasingly electronic age?