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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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This title in other editions

The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family, and Fate

by and

The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family, and Fate Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

One of Washington's finest writers on people, politics, and life — collected for the first time.

Marjorie Williams knew Washington from top to bottom. Beloved for her sharp analysis, elegant prose, and exceptional ability to intuit character, Williams wrote political profiles for the Washington Post and Vanity Fair that came to be considered the final word on the capital's most powerful figures. Her accounts of playing ping-pong with Richard Darman, of Barbara Bush's stepmother quaking with fear at the mere thought of angering the First Lady, and of Bill Clinton angrily telling Al Gore why he failed to win the presidency — to name just three treasures collected here — open a window on a seldom-glimpsed human reality behind Washington's determinedly blank façade.

Williams also penned a weekly column for the Post's op-ed page and epistolary book reviews for the online magazine Slate. Her essays for these and other publications tackled subjects ranging from politics to parenthood. During the last years of her life, she wrote about her own mortality as she battled liver cancer, using this harrowing experience to illuminate larger points about the nature of power and the randomness of life.

Marjorie Williams was a woman in a man's town, an outsider reporting on the political elite. She was, like the narrator in Randall Jarrell's classic poem, "The Woman at the Washington Zoo," an observer of a strange and exotic culture. This splendid collection — at once insightful, funny, and sad — digs into the psyche of the nation's capital, revealing not only the hidden selves of the people that run it, but the messy lives that the rest of us lead.

Review:

"Washington, D.C., is a city ruled by insiders, and few writers have broken through the social and public politics that govern it as eloquently as Williams. This posthumous collection presents a series of remarkably well-observed and intelligent profiles of the great and minor figures who have made D.C. for the past two decades. Williams, a longtime writer for the Washington Post and Vanity Fair, has a fine eye for telling details — the license plates on a bureaucrat's car, the folds of satin in a dying socialite's dress — but it's more than just details that make Williams's profiles so engaging. Underlying each representation is Williams's ability to make her characters as complicated on the page as they are in real life. It's that same concern that governs the heartbreaking personal pieces in the last third of the book, which covers Williams's losing battle with cancer. Here she is on her impending death: 'whatever happens to me now, I've earned the knowledge some people never gain, that my span is finite and I still have the chance to rise and rise to life's generosity.' In these final pieces, Williams steps out from under the self-effacing veil that made her such a fine journalist and speaks of her own experiences. The result is a collection of writing that dissolves the boundaries between the personal and the political to arrive at an obvious but no less startling conclusion." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Somewhat dated but a nonetheless rich collection framing the kinds of people, fair and foul, destined to make Washington tick." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"This book is required reading for all students of politics because Williams reveals the human motivations behind the narrative dramas that played out in the nation's capital during the last 15 years." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Review:

"For those who have never read Williams' work, The Woman at the Washington Zoo offers many pleasures and surprises. For those already familiar with her writing, this collection is a splendid memorial to an elegant prose stylist." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"Williams's journalistic gifts include her delicious use of detail, wicked humor and a psychological insight so telling it raises the question of why anyone ever agreed to submit to her scrutiny." The Washington Post

Review:

"At first glance, the appeal of The Woman at the Washington Zoo seems limited to those who were familiar with Williams before her death. But readers who are simply looking for great writing won't be disappointed." Rocky Mountain News

Review:

"[C]ombines peerless political anthropology with heartbreaking insight into the complexities of family life and her own struggle with cancer." Newsweek

Review:

"What a tragedy that this superb writer — and woman — is no longer with us, but how lucky we are that she left us these marvelous writings. This is a book to treasure, as we did her." Christopher Buckley, author of Thank You For Smoking

Review:

"Brilliant and unusual....[I]ndispensable." Meghan O'Rourke, Slate

Synopsis:

One of Washington's finest writers on people, politics, and life — collected for the first time.

Synopsis:

The works of one of Washington's finest writers on people, politics, and life, have been collected in this memoir which includes essays written as she battled liver cancer.

About the Author

Marjorie Williams was born in Princeton, NJ in 1958 and died in 2005. She is survived by her husband, Timothy Noah, senior writer at Slate, who edited this volume, and her children, Alice and Will.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781586484576
Author:
Marjorie Williams and Timothy Noah
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Editor:
Noah, Timothy
Author:
Williams, Marjorie
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
Women's Studies - History
Subject:
United States - State & Local - General
Subject:
Government - U.S. Government
Subject:
Government - National
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
United States Politics and government.
Subject:
Political culture -- United States.
Subject:
Politics-Political Science
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20061031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 11.8 oz

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Related Subjects

» BLOCKED
» History and Social Science » Journalism » General
» History and Social Science » Journalism » Journalists
» History and Social Science » Politics » General
» History and Social Science » Politics » Political Science
» History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Politics

The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family, and Fate Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$1.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages PublicAffairs - English 9781586484576 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Washington, D.C., is a city ruled by insiders, and few writers have broken through the social and public politics that govern it as eloquently as Williams. This posthumous collection presents a series of remarkably well-observed and intelligent profiles of the great and minor figures who have made D.C. for the past two decades. Williams, a longtime writer for the Washington Post and Vanity Fair, has a fine eye for telling details — the license plates on a bureaucrat's car, the folds of satin in a dying socialite's dress — but it's more than just details that make Williams's profiles so engaging. Underlying each representation is Williams's ability to make her characters as complicated on the page as they are in real life. It's that same concern that governs the heartbreaking personal pieces in the last third of the book, which covers Williams's losing battle with cancer. Here she is on her impending death: 'whatever happens to me now, I've earned the knowledge some people never gain, that my span is finite and I still have the chance to rise and rise to life's generosity.' In these final pieces, Williams steps out from under the self-effacing veil that made her such a fine journalist and speaks of her own experiences. The result is a collection of writing that dissolves the boundaries between the personal and the political to arrive at an obvious but no less startling conclusion." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Somewhat dated but a nonetheless rich collection framing the kinds of people, fair and foul, destined to make Washington tick."
"Review" by , "This book is required reading for all students of politics because Williams reveals the human motivations behind the narrative dramas that played out in the nation's capital during the last 15 years."
"Review" by , "For those who have never read Williams' work, The Woman at the Washington Zoo offers many pleasures and surprises. For those already familiar with her writing, this collection is a splendid memorial to an elegant prose stylist."
"Review" by , "Williams's journalistic gifts include her delicious use of detail, wicked humor and a psychological insight so telling it raises the question of why anyone ever agreed to submit to her scrutiny."
"Review" by , "At first glance, the appeal of The Woman at the Washington Zoo seems limited to those who were familiar with Williams before her death. But readers who are simply looking for great writing won't be disappointed."
"Review" by , "[C]ombines peerless political anthropology with heartbreaking insight into the complexities of family life and her own struggle with cancer."
"Review" by , "What a tragedy that this superb writer — and woman — is no longer with us, but how lucky we are that she left us these marvelous writings. This is a book to treasure, as we did her."
"Review" by , "Brilliant and unusual....[I]ndispensable."
"Synopsis" by ,
One of Washington's finest writers on people, politics, and life — collected for the first time.
"Synopsis" by , The works of one of Washington's finest writers on people, politics, and life, have been collected in this memoir which includes essays written as she battled liver cancer.

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