My New Year’s resolution is to read a book a week, in 2008.

Last Tuesday, I picked up a copy of a great new book. It’s about Andrew Dexter, Jr, “a real estate speculator, financier, and schemer”, as the Boston Globe called him.

In 1809, after spending millions of dollars of paper money, a new form of collateral in those days, Dexter built the seven-story Exchange Coffee House in downtown Boston – the tallest building in the United States at the time. But just before its unveiling, the country’s finances went south – banks shut down, paper money became worthless – and Dexter headed north to Canada.

Brandeis history professor Jane Kamensky is reading from her just-published “The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America’s First Banking Collapse”, tonight at 6:30 p.m.

Old State House, 206 Washington St., Boston.617-720-1713.

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