Sunday, February 20, 2011

What is Ben Tarnoff reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Ben Tarnoff is the author of Moneymakers: The Wicked Lives and Surprising Adventures of Three Notorious Counterfeiters.

His entry begins:
While writing Moneymakers, I was reading history all day. Which meant the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was to read more history. Instead, I began reading fiction. Historical fiction, mostly: books like Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Caleb Carr's The Alienist. Also science fiction, which is kind of like historical fiction in reverse, like Samuel Delany's Dhalgren. The more I read, the more I realized how much novelists and historians have in common. Both try to create a credible world for their characters to inhabit. Both use memory in interesting ways: the historian tries to retrieve memories of the historical past, while the novelist draws on memories from his or her personal past. Around this time I read...[read on]
Among the early praise for Moneymakers:
"What an ingenious idea for a book and what a rousing story! A truly gifted writer, Ben Tarnoff has brought to life three unforgettable characters while at the same time providing a window onto the tumultuous financial situation that characterized early American life."
–Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals

"Ben Tarnoff captures the wild early years of America's financial system through a delightful angle: the escapades of three counterfeiters. It's a colorful tale but also an enlightening one. It helps us understand our financial culture back then—and even today."
–Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

"I've always had a soft spot in my heart for counterfeiters, ever since my father, a Secret Service agent, told me stories about how hard it was to catch them. Tarnoff tells the story of three colorful and almost lovable practitioners of the trade, in prose that is always accessible and sometimes downright lyrical. Along the way he drove me to the conclusion that all paper money is sorta fake. Tarnoff himself strikes me as the genuine article. I welcome his voice to that tiny chorus of writers who can make American history come alive without dumbing it down."
–Joseph J. Ellis, author of Founding Brothers and First Family: Abigail and John
Read an excerpt from Moneymakers, and learn more about the book and author at Ben Tarnoff's website.

The Page 99 Test: Moneymakers.

Writers Read: Ben Tarnoff.

--Marshal Zeringue