We asked our faculty and authors to share with us some of their favorite books and movies. Their responses are posted in “Faculty Favorites.”
The Day Lincoln Was Shot (Jim Bishop, 1955). The first time I read this book it felt so much like fiction that I found myself hoping that President Lincoln might not get killed in the end. (Sorry if I spoil it for you, but Old Abe doesn’t make it.) This amazing depiction of one of the most important 24 hours in American history includes rich descriptions of Washington in 1865. You’ll “see” streets that are not much different from today, and get a feel for 19th Century political intrigue in a post-Civil War capital. Plus you’ll hear the story of how a band of terrorists cooked up a plan to kill the president and his entire cabinet — and nearly succeeded.
- Mr Smith Goes to Washington The classic tale of good versus evil, innocence versus indulgence, Jimmy Stewart versus Claude Rains. Inspired by the real life Senator Rush Drew Holt of West Virginia (whose son now serves as a congressman from New Jersey), this is the quintessential Washington movie.
- Advise and Consent This sometimes overlooked movie of Congress probably best portrayed the personalities that inhabited that Great Body of the Senate in the middle part of the 20th Century. Great acting by Henry Fonda, as an embattled Secretary of State Nominee; Walter Pigeon, portraying the Sen. Everett Dirksen-like character; and the great Charles Laughton (yes, the Hunchback of Notre Dame) in his last movie role. It also has the historic value of being the last film the Congress allowed to be shot on its premises — it disrupted government so much they wouldn’t allow filming on Capitol grounds in the future.
- All the President’s Men Bob Woodward should be paying royalties to Robert Redford for ensconcing Woodward as the archetype journalist-hero. What most people don’t know is that this film almost was never made. Robert Redford funded it with his own money.
For more, also see our Political and Government Classics page.
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