Facing the profusion of histories on the founding of Washington, D.C., Standiford pitches this narrative as a fresh appreciation of the capital’s first 25 years. Standiford is a novelist, and this background serves him well in developing the characters involved in platting, building, and burning Washington, and central to the narrative is Pierre Charles L’Enfant. To him goes the glory of the street plan, but L’Enfant’s talents in design and construction were not matched by political acumen. He was fired in 1792, and his grievances attract Standiford’s sympathy as well as his perception that unbending pride was the source of L’Enfant’s undoing. Standiford then turns to the tangled details of constructing buildings for the president and Congress, which, in the course of fiscal and physical challenges and further firings of personnel, were ready for incineration by the British in 1814. Closing with the city’s recovery from the War of 1812 and the recognition belatedly accorded to L’Enfant a century later by burial in Arlington National Cemetery, Standiford’s dramatized synthesis is a solid choice for the history set. --Gilbert Taylor
About the Author
LES STANDIFORD is the author of the critically acclaimed Last Train to Paradise
and Meet You in Hell
, as well as ten novels. Recipient of the Frank O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, he is director of the Creative Writing Program at Florida International University in Miami, where he lives with his wife and three children.
Visit his website at www.Les-Standiford.com.