Empire of Mud : The Secret History of Washington, DC
Overview - Washington, DC, gleams with stately columns and neoclassical temples, a pulsing hub of political power and prowess. But for decades it was one of the worst excuses for a capital city the world had ever seen. Before America became a world power in the twentieth century, Washington City was an eyesore at best and a disgrace at worst. Read more...
More About Empire of Mud by J. D. Dickey
Washington, DC, gleams with stately columns and neoclassical temples, a pulsing hub of political power and prowess. But for decades it was one of the worst excuses for a capital city the world had ever seen. Before America became a world power in the twentieth century, Washington City was an eyesore at best and a disgrace at worst. Unfilled swamps, filthy canals, and rutted horse trails littered its landscape. Political bosses hired hooligans and thugs to conduct the nation's affairs. Legendary madams entertained clients from all stations of society and politicians of every party. The police served and protected with the aid of bribes and protection money. Beneath pestilential air, the city's muddy roads led to a stumpy, half-finished obelisk to Washington here, a domeless Capitol Building there. Lining the streets stood boarding houses, tanneries, and slums. Deadly horse races gouged dusty streets, and opposing factions of volunteer firefighters battled one another like violent gangs rather than life-saving heroes. The city's turbulent history set a precedent for the dishonesty, corruption, and mismanagement that have led generations to look suspiciously on the various sin--both real and imagined--of Washington politicians. Empire of Mud unearths and untangles the roots of our capital's story and explores how the city was tainted from the outset, nearly stifled from becoming the proud citadel of the republic that George Washington and Pierre L'Enfant envisioned more than two centuries ago.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
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Certain adjectives spring to mind when reading this eye-opening, in-depth look at the history of America’s capital city in the 19th century: sordid, squalid, tawdry, filthy, and corrupt. Dickey (The Rough Guide to Washington, DC) pulls no punches as he examines the dark side of the District’s misspent youth, from its origins as a compromise carved from several states to its evolution into “a fiefdom ruled by national politicians”—one whose “citizens were denied the right to vote for those politicians.” Dickey covers every vice: murder, mayhem, political infighting, prostitution, incompetence, greed, dueling, slavery, and of course, war. Given the bleak portrait he paints of a city perpetually on the edge of chaos, where gangs clash and crime flourishes, where disease runs rampant, where civic projects and grandiose plans languish for decades, it’s amazing that the city survived long enough to endure its slow transformation into a real city—albeit one lacking certain rights and representation. Even as Dickey expresses a wistful nostalgia for long-vanished neighborhoods, he bemoans the District’s unique political nature. Only someone who loves the city can be so honest about its flaws, and this love shows in Dickey’s flowing style and knowledgeable approach. Agent: Jason Allen Ashlock, Movable Type Management. (Sept.)