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Washington Goes to War Paperback – October 8, 1996
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This book of the just-retired newsman's reminiscences of Washington at the dawn of America's involvement in World War II is no mere historical curiosity shop. It's very instructive about the way Washington still works. For instance, Brinkley tells us that in September 1941, while FDR was still wavering about where to put the military's new headquarters building, an Army general told the contractor to get started. By the time Roosevelt found out about this a month later, the foundations for the Pentagon had already been put in place.
From Publishers Weekly
The city "boasted" 15,000 privies; you could walk through the White House gate without being questioned; the Army chief of staff, early in the war, at least, sent a handwritten note to the family of every serviceman killed in battle. Things were quite different in the WW II capital, and Brinkley (a radio reporter in Washington at the time) reveals the tempo of the town in a series of vivid character sketches and anecdotes connected by commentary both illuminating and entertaining. Among the wide variety of subjects dealt with: the bulging civilian and military bureaucracies; the housing crisis in a city "crowded to suffocation"; the pressures on black Washingtonians; the frivolousness of the town's high society (President Roosevelt publicly called them parasites); the effect on the citizenry of hordes of thrill-seeking servicemen in a city without much entertainment to offer them; the emotional wranglings of the wartime Congress; the thorny yet genial relationship between FDR and the press. This is a valuable record of a town and government coping with global responsibilities for which it was ill prepared. Photos. 175,000 first printing; BOMC main selection.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Brinkley describes the chaos and confusion of the hordes of newly hired government secretaries finding places to live, along with the Navy's attempt to commandeer the newly constructed Statler Hilton Hotel as an officers quarters. It was something like the scenes in the George Stevens movie, The More The Merrier, although Brinkley wrote that many in Washington did not see much humor in that movie. This is the best of the books Brinkley wrote in the twilight of his career.
captial of the free world. He describes the society of the diplomats and the rich who livedon Embassy Row as well as the life of the very poor who lived in the back alleys. His historical narrative is spiced with ancedotes some funny and some tragic. All together it's a fascinating and entertaining book.