Synopses & Reviews
An instant classic on the way Washington works and a witty, provocative portrayal of the tribes that run it by a revered Washington writer and editor Meg Greenfield, the illustrious long-time editorial page editor of the Washington Post
, has written an instant classic that is as wise as it is wry.
Greenfield came to Washington in 1961 at the beginning of the Kennedy administration and joined the Washington Post in 1968. Her editorials at the Post and her columns in Newsweek were universally admired in Washington for their insight and style. Here Greenfield provides a portrait of the United States capital at the end of the American century.
Washington is an eccentric, tribal, provincial place where the primary currency is power. For all the scandal and politics of Washington, its real culture is surprisingly little known, and Meg Greenfield explains the place with an insider's knowledge and an observer's cool perspective. She likens the political scene to a high school, where the inhabitants are completely self-absorbed in the peculiar life of the place, freshman congressmen undergo the rituals of indoctrination, and most individuals may be categorized as teacher's pets, hall monitors, or big men on campus. And the biggest shock for all of these over-achievers? When they finally "arrive" in Washington, they are surrounded by equally qualified and talented people and the competition is relentless.
"[W]ritten in the coolly detached and slyly ironic style...of Miss Greenfield's columns and editorials in Newsweek and The Washington Post." Jill Abramson, The New York Times
"What Greenfield has left us...is something very different from a traditional memoir. It's a new way of looking at a flawed Washington, one that is scathing in import if not in tone, a useful framework even to those who think of government people as more real, more human and even more truthful than she does." Adam Clymer, New York Times Book Review
"Greenfield, editor of the editorial/opinion pages of the Washington Post until her death in 1999, left behind this jeremiad-cum-memoir, in which she describes the Washington political scene as 'high school at its most dangerously deranged.' She mercilessly derides the 'hall monitors' and prodigies with whom she claims Washington is rife, ever fearful of losing their jobs because of a misspoken word. In order to defend against no-holds-barred press coverage, politicians now develop, according to Greenfield, a completely fabricated persona, generating formulaic exchanges with journalists that lead to a well-founded distrust of government institutions and the press; her odd contention is that Washington worked better in the past....Washington junkies will love this acerbic appraisal by a woman who was certainly in the know." Cynthia Harrison, George Washington University
"This is no tell-all scandal sheet (Washington's pervasive sexual affairs have a 'biff-bam, backseat-of-your-father's Chevy quality') or the work of a 'pop sociology scribe,' but neither is it a lament for halcyon days. As the foreword from Post publisher Katharine Graham and afterword by historian and PBS commentator Michael Beschloss make clear, Greenfield, who wrote the book in secret and left it at her death, never lost her 'principles, detachment or individual human qualities.' Readers will find Greenfield's in-the-know frankness irresistible, whatever their party affiliations, the mark of great journalism." Publishers Weekly