No, the fact is that Washington is and always has been irretrievably bogged down in process. And process doesn’t generally make for electrifying prose–unless you’re a fan of the novels of C. P. Snow, which describe the intestinal workings of inner-sanctum power struggles conducted by micro-megalomaniacs.
photo credit: Sjors Provoost
The days of the Georgetown hostess are gone; the hostesses themselves are gone, too. Their reign began to close years ago, when senators started canceling dinners to appear on shows like Nightline. (There’s a prefiguration of this in Larry McMurtry’s neglected 1982 Washington novel Cadillac Jack, in which a character pontificates on world-shaking matters of which he knows little.) The Washington pundit is also a thing of the past: it’s been a good while since any insider columnist had the kind of access or influence that Ben Bradlee enjoyed with John F. Kennedy. And the British Embassy, while it still stages some of the best dinners, is not the brokerage of influence that it once was. Yet–if we except the intermittent efforts at describing catastrophe or conspiracy, themselves mostly falling short of observable reality–this is the sort of stereotype in which the model remains confined.
“In Search of the Washington Novel,” by Christopher Hitchens, City Journal, Autumn, 2010
For books about Washington, see “Political and Government Classics” from TheCapitol.Net.
You can also see our faculty’s favorite books and movies about Washington on Hobnob Blog’s Faculty Favorites.
The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History
Cadillac Jack : A Novel
Democracy, Esther, Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, The Education of Henry Adams
Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics
Primary Colors, DVD
Advise and Consent
The Congressman Who Loved Flaubert: 21 Stories and Novellas
All the King’s Men
The Best and the Brightest
Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government
The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies
The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups
Don’t Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards
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