Right off the bat Christopher Buckley tells his readers that he is not a historian, but he promises that as a high level bureaucrat he knows how to steal good material for his book Washington Schlepped Here: Walking in the National's Capital. With just a tiny bit of right wing banter, he delivers an entertaining tour of many of the major sites of central Washington, D.C.
In his commentary, Buckley aims for laughs when he can, sometimes at the expense of the Founding Fathers, eminent politicians, and even himself. As a former member of the elder Bush administration, he has some inside stories to tell about Washington affairs. These mix well with the scoops that he gets from tour guides (the human kind) and guide books, showing that controversy has been a resident of the capital from its beginning.
Having spent a week in Washington two years ago when we attended the American Library Association conference, I recognized many of the places about which Buckley speaks. As he makes his way around the Mall, he reveals that there were political fights over the erection of nearly every building and statue. He does not mention the Botanic Garden and the National Museum of the American Indian, the latter having opened after he wrote the book. After crisscrossing the Mall from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, he also walks Lafayette Square and Arlington National Cemetery.
I listened to Washington Schlepped Here read ably by Grover Gardner, which I suggest for readers who are contemplating a trip or simply looking for lighthearted history.
Buckley, Christopher. Washington Schlepped Here: Walking in the National's Capital. Books on Tape, 2003.