Washington: A History of Our National City

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Product Details

Basic Books
Publish Date
6.5 X 2.0 X 9.3 inches | 1.8 pounds

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About the Author

Tom Lewis is professor emeritus of English at Skidmore College. The author of four books, including The Hudson, he lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.


"Washington traces the anti-democratic history of the capital of the world's biggest democracy."

"Lewis explains the character of the city, how it developed, the dastardly building mistakes, and how a few particular characters helped define it. Those who enjoy the city will enjoy this book."

Kenneth T. Jackson, Barzun Professor of History, Columbia University
"Tom Lewis captures Washington, D.C.'s virtues and vices, and aspirations and realities in this elegant and accessible history. He weaves cultural, social, and political threads into an insightful narrative full of human voices."

Geoffrey C. Ward, author of The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
"From George Washington to Richard Nixon, Marian Anderson to Marion Barry, Tom Lewis's Washington vividly demonstrates that the human history of our nation's capital mirrors both the best and the worst in us."

Ken Burns
"Tom Lewis has written a comprehensive and intimate portrait of our National Capital. It is a vivid example of the best kind of history: filled with fascinating characters and details, and suffused with issues that seem all too contemporary. Bravo!"
Wall Street Journal
"[Washington is] an engagingly written, panoramic chronicle of the nation's capital."

Washington Post
"[Washington] is a remarkably amiable tale for a city that has seen so much trouble and conflict...Lewis succeeds in showing us the human face of Washington; and for Washington, too often perceived as faceless, that's achievement enough.

Open Letters Monthly
"Lewis is an excellent, comprehensive guide to DC's fraught history, providing fast-paced but thoroughly-researched accounts of wars, riots, congresses and presidents... Washington takes the torch from many very good earlier such books and carries it forward into the 21st century."

Publishers Weekly
"The most reliable and useful one-volume history of the U.S. capital to date... Deftly written and enhanced by fitting illustrations, some of them rare and obscure, the book chronicles the city's vexed experience as a representatives' and speculators' playpen as well as the site of unrepresented American citizen's lives."

Library Journal
"A winning addition to municipal historiography. Recommended for scholars and students of U.S. history, political science, and African American studies; urban planners; and all libraries."