The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America's First Banking Collapse

Jane Kamensky, Author . Viking $29.95 (442p) ISBN 978-0-670-01841-3

Brandeis history professor Kamensky (The Colonial Mosaic ) recounts the story of Andrew Dexter, a chronically overleveraged real estate developer who engineered profound shifts in the economy and skyline of turbulent early America. Dexter built the seven-story Boston Exchange Coffee House, an extraordinarily ambitious project, and helped create a regional exchange system that made banknotes from distant rural locations acceptable in Boston. Unfortunately for his reputation, he is more often remembered as the man responsible for the first bank failure in the United States in 1809. Although he spent the last 30 years of his life on the run from numerous creditors and died in debt, he never stopped juggling visionary projects. Kamensky devotes almost as much attention to the Exchange Coffee House and its impact on contemporary thought as she does to Dexter's biography. She also weaves in an account of Nathan Appleton, born, like Dexter, in 1779, but destined for a longer and much more prosperous and respectable life fighting against Dexter and his ilk. This is a charming popular account of an often-overlooked aspect of American history. B&w photos and illus. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 09/24/2007
Release date: 02/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 464 pages - 978-1-4295-7988-9
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 464 pages - 978-1-4295-7989-6
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-14-311490-1
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