The Coffee Trader Book Summary - The Coffee Trader Book explained in key points

The Coffee Trader summary

David Liss

Brief summary

The Coffee Trader by David Liss is a historical novel set in 17th century Amsterdam. It follows the story of a Jewish merchant, Miguel Lienzo, as he navigates the risky world of coffee trading and struggles to overcome personal and financial challenges.

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    The Coffee Trader
    Summary of key ideas

    The World of Coffee Trading

    In The Coffee Trader by David Liss, we are transported to 17th century Amsterdam, a city bustling with trade and commerce. The protagonist, Miguel Lienzo, is a Jewish refugee from Portugal who has fled the Inquisition and is now trying to make his fortune in the city's commodities market. Miguel is a complex character, driven by his desire for success and haunted by his past failures.

    At the beginning of the story, Miguel is down on his luck, having lost his fortune in a failed sugar trading venture. He is living in his brother's house, struggling to make ends meet. However, Miguel is not one to give up easily. He hatches a daring plan to corner the market on a new and exotic commodity - coffee. This plan is risky, as coffee is a relatively unknown and untested product in Amsterdam, and its success depends on the volatile nature of the commodities market.

    The Art of Deception

    To execute his plan, Miguel enlists the help of a mysterious and alluring woman named Geertruid Damhuis. Geertruid is a widow with a reputation for being a shrewd businesswoman. She agrees to finance Miguel's coffee trading scheme, but their partnership is fraught with tension and mutual suspicion. Both characters are complex and morally ambiguous, and their relationship is marked by a constant power struggle.

    As the story unfolds, we see Miguel and Geertruid navigating the treacherous world of Amsterdam's commodities market. They resort to various forms of deception and manipulation to outwit their competitors and drive up the price of coffee. Miguel, in particular, is a master of disguise, using different personas to gather information and manipulate his rivals. However, his constant scheming takes a toll on his personal relationships, and he becomes increasingly isolated.

    The Unpredictable Nature of the Market

    Despite their best efforts, Miguel and Geertruid's plan does not go as smoothly as they had hoped. The commodities market proves to be unpredictable and volatile, and their success is constantly threatened by unforeseen events. For example, a ship carrying a large consignment of coffee sinks, causing a sudden shortage and driving up prices. Miguel and Geertruid must constantly adapt their strategies to survive in this cutthroat environment.

    As the tension in the story mounts, we see Miguel's character evolve. He becomes increasingly ruthless and single-minded in his pursuit of success. He is willing to sacrifice his personal integrity and even his relationship with Geertruid to achieve his goals. However, his relentless ambition also leads to his downfall, as his enemies close in on him and his carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel.

    The Price of Ambition

    In the final act of The Coffee Trader, Miguel's world comes crashing down. His enemies expose his deceptions, and he is left destitute and disgraced. Geertruid, too, suffers a similar fate. The novel ends on a bittersweet note, with Miguel reflecting on the price of his ambition and the personal sacrifices he has made in his pursuit of success.

    In conclusion, The Coffee Trader is a gripping historical novel that offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of 17th century commerce. It is a story of ambition, deception, and the unpredictable nature of the market. Through the character of Miguel Lienzo, David Liss explores the moral and personal costs of pursuing success at any cost.

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    What is The Coffee Trader about?

    The Coffee Trader by David Liss is a historical novel set in 17th century Amsterdam. It follows the story of Miguel Lienzo, a Jewish merchant who becomes involved in the newly emerging coffee trade. Filled with intrigue, betrayal, and financial schemes, the book offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of commodity trading and the lengths people will go to in pursuit of wealth.

    The Coffee Trader Review

    The Coffee Trader (2003) is a captivating historical fiction novel set in Amsterdam in the 17th century. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With its meticulous research and intricate plot, it immerses readers in the world of commodity trading, offering a unique perspective on the coffee trade during that era.
    • The book masterfully explores themes of ambition, deceit, and redemption, keeping readers hooked with its suspenseful twists and turns.
    • Vivid descriptions of the city's bustling streets and vivid characters bring the story to life, making it an engaging and enjoyable read from start to finish.

    Who should read The Coffee Trader?

    • Readers who enjoy historical fiction set in a specific time period and location
    • Those interested in the history of commodities trading and early financial markets
    • People who appreciate complex and morally ambiguous characters

    About the Author

    David Liss is an American author known for his historical fiction novels. With a background in history and a passion for storytelling, Liss has created a diverse body of work that transports readers to different time periods. Some of his notable books include "A Conspiracy of Paper," "The Whiskey Rebels," and "The Coffee Trader." Liss's intricate plots and richly detailed settings have earned him a dedicated following among fans of historical fiction.

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    The Coffee Trader FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Coffee Trader?

    The main message of The Coffee Trader is the pursuit of wealth and success in the coffee trading industry in 17th-century Amsterdam.

    How long does it take to read The Coffee Trader?

    The reading time for The Coffee Trader varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Coffee Trader a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Coffee Trader is a captivating historical fiction that combines intrigue, finance, and Dutch culture. It's definitely worth reading!

    Who is the author of The Coffee Trader?

    The author of The Coffee Trader is David Liss.

    What to read after The Coffee Trader?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Coffee Trader, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
    • Savor by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung
    • Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman
    • Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price
    • Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss
    • Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink
    • The Twenty-four Hour Mind by Rosalind D. Cartwright