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.
Fascinating but long-winded.
This is worth 5 stars. This is a fine account of the Americans that moved to Washington, a small Southern city at the outset of the Second World War and went to work for the quickly growing government in the era of carbon paper, manual typewriters and wartime shortages of all manner of consumer goods. The transformation of the District is chronicled by David Brinkley in a fine style.
Brinkley has written a wonderful account of how Washington, D.C. exploded with war-time workers, servicemen and women, politicians and everyone else and how it hasn't been the same since. As he was someone there during this period, who also can write in an engaging manner, I felt I was there with him. I found this book a pure delight.
Interesting book about an important but underreported part of our history.