on 27 April 2009
Andrew Dexter Jr. is the villain of historian Jane Kamensky's book on America's first bank failure, which occurred in the early 1800s. He used worthless banknotes to finance construction of Boston's Exchange Coffee House, at seven stories then America's tallest building. In the process, he financially ruined hundreds of laborers who worked on the project. By the time they learned that his banknotes were bogus, Dexter was long gone. Kamensky deftly tells his tale with fascinating detail and little-known facts. In brilliant writing she traces the rise of "speculative capitalism." She offers the bittersweet saga of a man with little conscience and big dreams he never fulfilled. getAbstract finds that her book compellingly depicts America's early financial history - and, perhaps, one facet of its emerging fiscal personality - through the tale of this colorful charlatan.