|One in the Crown
Author: Christopher Buckley
The father of our country slept with
Martha, but schlepped in the District.
Now in the great man’s footsteps
comes humorist and twenty-year Washington
resident Christopher Buckley with the
real story of the city’s founding.
Well, not really. We’re just trying
to get you to buy the book. But we can
say with justification that there’s
never been a more enjoyable, funny,
and informative tour guide to the city
than Buckley. His delight as he points
out things of interest is con-tagious,
and his frequent digressions about his
own adventures as a White House staffer
are often hilarious.
In Washington Schlepped Here, Buckley
takes us along for several walks around
the town and shares with us a bit of
his “other” Washington.
They include “Dante’s Paradiso” (Union
Station); the “Zero Milestone
of American democracy” (the U.S.
Capitol); the “Almost Pink House” (the
White House); and many other historical
(and often hysterical) journeys. Buckley
is the sort of wonderful guide who pries
loose the abalone-like clichés
that cling to a place as mythic as D.C.
Wonderfully insightful and eminently
practical, Washington Schlepped Here
shows us that even a city whose chief
industry is government bureaucracy is
a lot funnier and more surprising than
its media-ready image might let on.
|From Publishers Weekly
Buckley (No Way to Treat a First Lady) presents an engaging introduction
to the highlights of monumental Washington in this collection of walking
tours. While some readers might have appreciated a stroll through some
of the capital's less-visited quarters (his tours barely venture beyond
the Mall), Buckley digs up enough historical tidbits about even stops
like the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and Washington Monument to let
veteran tourists see them freshly. His approach--combining the stories
of those who built Washington and the stories of those who ruled it-pays
off in rich anecdotes about, for instance, Pierre L'Enfant, the city's
designer, who died in poverty, and James McNeill Whistler, who created
the Freer Gallery's Peacock Room in a defiant act of artistic license.
It's useful, too, to have a guide who's a former Washington insider (Buckley
worked as a speechwriter to Vice-president Bush during Reagan's first
term) and actually knows what it's like to steal stationery from Air Force
One. Buckley's tendency to let jokes tell the stories is occasionally
confusing: for instance, he writes, "Congress immediately passed
a law prohibiting vice-presidents from speaking in verse; it remains on
the books today." If he's not kidding he should elaborate, and if
he is, well, he should be funnier. This isn't a critical guide to Washington--Buckley
wears his conservative and patriotic credentials on his sleeve--and it
is unlikely to appeal to anyone looking for insight into the Washington
its residents actually inhabit, but its anecdotes, alternately frivolous
and solemn, make a good companion to D.C.'s best-known attractions.
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