- Used Books
- Staff Picks
- Gifts & Gift Cards
- Sell Books
- Stores & Events
- Let's Talk Books
Special Offers see all
More at Powell's
Recently Viewed clear list
This item may be
Check for Availability
Washington Burning: How a Frenchman's Vision for Our Nation's Capital Survived Congress, the Founding Fathers, and the Invading British Armyby Les Standiford
Synopses & Reviews
The Riveting Story of the Federal City and the Men Who Built It
In 1814, British troops invaded Washington, consuming President Madison’s hastily abandoned dinner before setting his home and the rest of the city ablaze. The White House still bears scorch and soot marks on its foundation stones. It was only after this British lesson in “hard war,” designed to terrorize, that Americans overcame their resistance to the idea of Washington as the nation’s capital and embraced it as a symbol of American might and unity.
The dramatic story of how the capital rose from a wilderness is a vital chapter in American history, filled with intrigue and outsized characters–from George Washington to Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the eccentric, passionate, difficult architect who fell in love with his adopted country. This Frenchman–both inspired by the American cause of liberty and wounded while defending it–first endeared himself to then General Washington with a sketch drawn at Valley Forge. Designing buildings, parades, medals, and coins, L’Enfant became the creator of a new American aesthetic, but the early tastemaker had ambition and pride to match his talent. Self-serving and incapable of compromise, he was consumed with his artistic dream of the Federal City, eventually alienating even the president, his onetime champion.
Washington struggled to balance L’Enfant’s enthusiasm for his brilliant design with the strident opposition of fiscal conservatives such as Thomas Jefferson, whose counsel eventually led to L’Enfant’s dismissal. The friendships, rivalries, and conflicting ideologies of the principals in this drama–as revealed in their deceptively genteel correspondence and other historical sources–mirror the struggles of a fledgling nation to form a kind of government the world had not yet known.
In these pages, as in Last Train to Paradise and Meet You in Hell, master storyteller Les Standiford once again tells a compelling, uniquely American story of hubris and achievement, with a man of epic ambition at its center. Utterly absorbing and scrupulously researched, Washington Burning offers a fresh perspective on the birth of not just a city, but a nation.
An early history of Washington, D.C., describes how the city became the nation's capital, the design of eccentric French architect Pierre Charles L'Enfant, Washington's efforts to balance the design with opposition from fiscal conservatives--which mirrored the struggles of a fledgling nation--and the 1814 burning of the city by British troops. 50,000 first printing.
About the Author
LES STANDIFORD is the author of the critically acclaimed Last Train to Paradise and Meet You in Hell, as well as ten novels. Recipient of the Frank O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, he is director of the Creative Writing Program at Florida International University in Miami, where he lives with his wife and three children.
Visit his website at www.Les-Standiford.com.
Table of Contents
Idea of Order — Sentinel — If You Build It, They Will Come — The Winds of a War — First Orders of Business — Coming of Age — A New American Order — Quid Pro Quo — Court of Public Opinion — Greatness of Empire — Habitation and a Name — Grand Design — Glory Days — Headway — A Plan Wholly New — All Things Reasonable and Proper — Endgame — Ditches in the Midst of Winter — Writ of Trespass — Purest Principles — Least Obedient Servant — On the Potowmack — In This Great Castle — Revolving Door — Plague — No Match for the Rogues — Raise High the Roof Beams — Race to the Finish — A Residence Not to Be Changed — A Concurrence of Disastrous Events — Forged by Fire — Destroy and Lay Waste — The Little Malice of Fools — Embers of Imagination — Stillness of the Grave — The More Things Change ... — Under a Different Belief — Debacle at Bladensburg — Barbarians Through the Gates — A Disaster Striking and Sublime — Thieves in the Night — Scorn and Execration — Dishonest, Avaricious Men — Phoenix Rising — Ad Astra — Honor and Reward.
What Our Readers Are Saying
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » History » General