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This deeply felt memoir is a love letter to Washington, DC. Carol Lancaster, a third-generation Washingtonian who knew the city like few others, takes readers on a tour of the nation’s capital from its swamp-infested beginnings to the present day, with an insider’s view of the gritty politics, environment, society, culture, and larger-than-life heroes that characterize her beloved hometown. The former dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, a friend of presidents and dignitaries all over the globe, Lancaster colorfully describes the city’s three near-death experiences and the many triumphs and tribulations that emerged as the city took shape. Along the way she provides brief biographies of three of the most influential figures in the city’s history: urban designer Pierre Charles L’Enfant, whose vision for the city was realized only after his death; civic leader “Boss” Shepherd, whose strong-arm tactics cleaned up the downtown area and helped create the walking mall we know today; and controversial mayor Marion Barry, whose rise and fall and resurrection underscored the contemporary challenges of home rule.
Teeming with informative anecdotes and two dozen illustrations of landmarks and key characters, Lancaster’s memoir is a personal and passionate paean to the most powerful city in the world—from one of its most illustrious native daughters.