Charles Bulfinch, gentleman's returned from the Grand Tour in 1787 with a dream of reconstructing his beloved native Boston in the style of mid-Georgian London. Over the next thirty years he served his city as selectman, police chief, designer and inspector of schools, prisons, streets and civic buildings, and the architect of many of Boston's churches, houses, markets, wharves, stores, banks, meeting halls and warehouses. Post-colonial Boston was not always helpful or kind to her busiest citizen; politics, particularly, was a ""partisan, savage, and ultimately futile...consideration to which every endeavor was subordinated."" But Bulfinch survived both economic and political crises so successfully that by 1817, when President Monroe called him to Washington to supervise, the completion of the Federal Capitol, ""Boston was the most perfect architectural city in the nation."" So it was to remain until ""the London-haunted town whose architecture Bulfinch created, whose social life his family and friends prolonged, and whose affairs he administered, vanished in the new age of manufacturing."" This is an absorbingly vivid and piquant treatment of an important slice of Americana.