480 pages, 7.99 × 5.17 × 0.98 in
January 30, 2001
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.I have been at som
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. Recommended enthusiastically.”—JOHN JAKES Author of American Dreams“A well-researched and highly entertaining historical mystery . . . [A] tale of financial skullduggery and m
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 more believable?
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 happen again?
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?