The Coffee Trader by David Liss
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This was a first read by this author. This historical fiction is based on entrepreneurship in the 1600s...specifically on the coffee trade and the Dutch influence on the rest of the business world, including the present day business world. The Dutch developed new methods of trade as they were coming out of a war of independence with Spain which was about all they were left with.
I found the history of coffee intriguing especially (it is one of my most favorite of drinks!) and it had a few connections with another book I recently finished...The Botany of Desire (review #1) which talked about the tulip trade and how the Dutch market flourished for a time because of this flower.
The main character, Miguel Lienzo, a Portuguese Jew living in Amsterdam, got a little exasperating with his repeated bad choices, but somehow I found myself cheering for him and hoping against all odds that he would be successful. There were so many underhanded schemes that at times I lost track of who was plotting against whom. It all got figured out in the end though.
Reading Outliers (see review #3) at the same time did add to the story. I found myself looking for things based on ideas from Outliers that made him a success even while others failed.