Washington Schlepped Here: Walking in the Nation's Capital, by Christopher Buckley
Sometimes, it can be magical when the author of a well-written book reads the work aloud. Over the course of a recent roadtrip, I had the good fortune to be the beneficiary of such a performance. In Washington Schlepped Here: Walking in the Nation's Capital, Christopher Buckley shares an insider's view of the history, humor, and high drama of Washington D.C. as he takes several easy-to-recreate walking tours. I found myself laughing out loud in response to his remarkable anecdotes about the downright peculiar behavior of both those who decided to create a federal district in the middle of a swamp on the Potomac River as well as some of the decisions makers of more recent times. His evocative description of the Korean and Viet Nam War Memorials actually had me blinking through tears, and his clear prose created the sense that I was seeing all the monuments exactly as he described them. For every minute of the two one-hour CDs, Buckley's attention to detail, keen wit, and great speaking voice kept my attention riveted. At the end of the second disk, my only complaint was that I wanted more.
I found this particularly remarkable because I have visited Washington a number of times over the past thirty years. Somehow, though, I missed many of the discoveries and most of the insights Buckley shares with his readers. The book is organized into a series of walks that can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages and cultural backgrounds. Buckley has lived in Washington since 1981, and he shares an insider's perspective gained during his tenure working as a speechwriter in the White House. Throughout the book, Buckley demystifies and unravels the arcane history surrounding the founding and evolution of Washington, and this allows refreshing new appreciation for the "Zero Milestone of American Democracy." His obvious love for this unique and powerful city is contagious, and Washington Schlepped Here (don't you love that title?) makes me impatient for my next road trip to our nation's capital. Without a doubt, Buckley will accompany me on that journey, and I highly recommend that his delightful book be included in your dashboard collection as well.