The Whiskey Rebels • david liss

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whiskey-lgAir travel introduces one to the phenomena of speed bonding.  Like your dental hygienist is an intimate pal – two hours a year – , your aisle mate within a slender aluminum tube spearing stratospheric air can be your soul mate, confidante, therapist.  Ask anything you want; get an honest reply.  You’ll never see each other again; bearing one’s soul to a stranger can be easier.

Flying east from a fortnight of good deeds, I eagerly anticipate rich loam of Pennsylvania soil.  But the Commonwealth’s airspace was a good start.   The famous Three Rivers, home of Pittsburgh, came first.  Easy to spot; unmistakable to the eye.

Usual airplane banter followed.  Pittsburg memories between a tradesman, risk analyst, and foreclosure specialist.  Geography and the settling of Colonial America followed.  Crank back time to 1790, and we’d see a muddy hamlet of about 300 souls, many of them skilled craftsmen. It was easier to produce what they needed rather than order from the east, and wait for the product to arrive over the Allegheny Mountains,.

The residents had a surplus of grain for trade, but shipping alcohol was easier. The fledgling Federal government had decided to levy its first tax against whiskey, but the (frontier) farmers argued they didn’t have cash to pay taxes on bartered goods, and marched in protest.

Where did I pick up all these tidbits, asked my new friends?  Research spurred by reading historical fiction of David Liss.  In The Whiskey Rebels, Liss brings together national politics with backwoods realities.  People living in the time before TV, cell phones, and flush toilets, dealing with the same issues we experience today.

David Liss engages reader imagination at the right pace.  His plot as well as locale, characters, interactions, all give one a sense of being in the book, alongside the story.  At a time when we more often live within electronic content by others (like this article, but finish reading before heading to the library), I’d certainly rather be in a book than a computer! 

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