Through lively, descriptive text and a treasure-trove of historical photographs (many never before published), historian Goode (Capital Losses: A Cultural History of Washington’s Destroyed Buildings) has woven a wonderful story of Washington, DC, and its surrounding suburban communities. The author, who has made a life’s work of the capital’s history and authored four previous books about Washington, artfully selected and organized this book around eight thoroughly enjoyable chapters: the National Mall; Market Square; the Hay-Adams Houses; Washington, DC, in 1908; Washington, DC, in the 1930s; Lost Landmarks of Alexandria, VA; Loudoun County, VA; and Frederick County, MD. Many of the images feature familiar and not-so-familiar landmarks, accompanied by brief histories and interspersed with photographs of people at work and play in a variety of activities. These latter images, in particular, offer a touching, human quality to this photo-essay and reminds readers that Washington, DC, is not only a center of politics but of people going about their everyday lives.
Verdict Anyone interested in historical photography and American social and cultural history, especially of the nation’s capital, will love this book. Highly recommended.—Raymond Bial, First Light Photography, Urbana, IL
The author is a noted Washingtonian whose earlier books, like this one, inform readers about what has been lost (Capital Losses, 1979) and what has been lost and still survives (Best Addresses, 1988, about apartment buildings; Washington Sculpture: A Cultural History of Outdoor Sculpture in the Nation’s Capital volume, which originated in an exhibition, ranges all across the city’s public and private dwellings and extends to nearby towns (Alexandria) and counties (Loudoun, Frederick). The author spent years collecting the photographs, most of them previously unpublished, from a multitude of sources. Their chronology ranges from the early years of photography to Lyndon Johnson at Camp David and runs from the Mall and Capitol to Jackie Kennedy and her horse Sardar. An introduction to each of the eight chapters presents a concise review of the subject’s topographic and historical place, and each photograph (one to three on each two-page spread) has an equally concise and informative caption. The heavy coated stock allows the photos and the few maps to be crisply and sharply published in this well-designed, handsome, and pleasurable book. Strong binding with back matter that includes acknowledgments and illustration credits.–W. Westfall, University of Notre Dame Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers.