Synopses & Reviews
The riveting story of the country's first banking scandal in the first decades of the American republic
This enthralling historical narrative of the birth of speculative capitalism in America opens in the 1790s when financial pioneer-turned-confidence-man Andrew Dexter, Jr. created a pyramid scheme founded on real estate speculation and the greed of banks, who freely printed the paper money he needed to finance the then tallest building in the United States-the Exchange Coffee House, a 153-room, seven-story colossus in downtown Boston. The story of Dexter's rise and eventual collapse offered an object lesson to the rising young nation, and presents striking parallels to the subprime mortgage meltdown and looming economic collapse of today.
"There is a very evident enthusiasm of discovery in Kamensky's The Exchange Artist
that animates her narrative of a high-flying developer and the banks and investors dragged down by his overreaching need for money to build his towering dream."
-The Boston Globe
"This shrewd and eloquent biography of a building, a man, and the speculative culture they reflect is bound to delight as well as disturb."
-Walter A. McDougall, University of Pennsylvania, author of The Heavens and the Earth
Kamensky presents the startling story of an early American dreamer whose wily schemes made him a founding father of speculative capitalism. 40 b&w illustrations.
About the Author
Jane Kamensky teaches history at Brandeis University. She is the author of Governing the Tongue: The Politics of Speech in Early New England and The Colonial Mosaic: American Women, 1600-1760. She is a consultant and on-camera expert for documentaries shown on PBS and The History Channel, and has made appearances on National Public Radio and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In 2000, she co-founded Common-place (www.common-place.org), an award-winning online journal that she co-edited from 2000 to 2004. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two children.