DREAM CITY

RACE, POWER, AND THE DECLINE OF WASHINGTON, D.C.

Two veteran Washington journalists offer a vigorous and resonant portrait of the 30-year decline and polarization of our capital. Jaffe (of Washingtonian magazine) and Sherwood (of WRC-TV, formerly of the Washington Post) tell their story in episodic sketches, covering the city's historic caste system among blacks, the rise of community organizer (and, later, mayor) Marion Barry during the War on Poverty, and the shift of power to blacks after the traumatic 1968 riots. The authors criticize the long-standing federal stranglehold on the district, as well as the Post's ignorance of black Washington, but their major culprit is ``Boss Barry,'' who emerged in his second mayoral term (1982-6) as a betrayer of the biracial coalition that first elected him. Barry's failures were legion: political spoils for a narrow group of adventurers such as profiteer-from-the-homeless Cornelius Pitts; a top aide turned embezzler; a police department in disarray; a downtown that boomed as other neighborhoods crumbled. His defiance of the black bourgeoisie and the white power structure preserved his popularity among blacks, and when he was arrested on drug charges in 1990—an episode recounted in telling detail—his lawyer successfully argued that the government was out to get him. After serving a six-month jail term for one misdemeanor, Barry began a comeback as council member from the city's poorest ward. The authors criticize the current mayor, reformer Sharon Pratt Kelly, as out of touch, and warn that federal receivership for Washington is as likely as full home rule and statehood. Reliance on dialogue-rich scenes sometimes sacrifices depth for drama, but this is a memorable and disturbing reminder of much unfinished urban business.

Pub Date: May 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-671-76846-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An admirable, warts-and-all history of a milestone in environmental preservation.

EMPIRE OF SHADOWS

THE EPIC STORY OF YELLOWSTONE

The story of a national park might seem a niche subject, but OnEarth magazine editor Black (Casting a Spell: The Bamboo Fly Rod and the American Pursuit of Perfection, 2006, etc.) surrounds it with a colorful, stormy, often-distressing history of our northern mountain states.

The author begins with Lewis and Clark, whose 1804–06 expedition passed nearby but brought back only rumors of odd geological events. The northern Rockies remained a backwater for another half-century. Almost no one but fur traders took an interest for the first 30 years; wagon trains pouring west after 1840 passed well to the south. By the 1850s gold mining and ranching produced settlers, quickly followed by the Army, both anxious to eliminate the Indians. Black provides painful details of 20 years of conflict that accomplished this goal. Lacking gold or good grazing, the Yellowstone area attracted few settlers, but visitors brought back tales of wondrous geysers, boiling springs and breathtaking scenery. In 1869 the small, privately funded Cook-Folsom-Peterson Expedition produced such a tantalizing report that Montana residents organized a large expedition. That expedition spent a month exploring, resulting in a torrent of publicity that led to the federally funded Hayden Geological Survey of 1871. Its enthusiastic report included historical photographs by William Henry Jackson and paintings by Thomas Moran, and the resulting publicity persuaded Congress to create the world’s first national park in 1872. Congress did not, however, provide money, so vandalism, poaching and commercial exploitation flourished until 1886 when the Army moved in. It did not leave until the new National Park Service took over in 1918.

An admirable, warts-and-all history of a milestone in environmental preservation.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-38319-0

Page Count: 576

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sturdy companion to Michael Lieder and Jake Page’s Wild Justice (1997)—highly recommended for readers interested in Native...

COYOTE WARRIOR

ONE MAN, THREE TRIBES, AND THE TRIAL THAT FORGED A NATION

A solid case study in an emerging trend: American Indian lawyers’ use of the courts to extract rights and dollars hidden away in long-forgotten treaties.

When William Clark saw the fall run of salmon on the Columbia River, writes freelance journalist VanDevelder, he exclaimed that he could cross from bank to bank on their backs without ever touching water. In 1991, only a single salmon made the journey to an Idaho lake; it was “stuffed, shellacked, and mounted on a pine board and hung in the governor’s office in the Idaho statehouse in Boise.” Its fate aptly describes a subtext of VanDevelder’s narrative, for there was a time when Social Darwinists in the American government hoped that the Indians, dispossessed of their land and stripped of their traditions, would simply fade away. In 1945, that thinking seemed a factor in the US Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to create a vast diversion dam across the Missouri River in North Dakota, one that would flood lands claimed by the Arikara, Hidatsa, and Mandan peoples, who had helped Lewis and Clark during the winter of 1804–5 and regretted it ever since. The dam was built, despite the protestations of Indian delegations to the US Congress, displacing thousands of Indians—including the family of Raymond Cross, who would grow up to attend Yale Law and who would take a vigorous interest in redressing the wrongs visited on his people. So he has done, battling the likes of Justices Rehnquist and Scalia, whom Cross characterizes as “an ideological tag team and throwback to another century.” Despite setbacks, writes VanDevelder, Cross and other Indian attorneys have been hitting hard, reasserting Indian rights and throwing unschooled judges into confusion as “Federal courts are now routinely asked to sort through the myriad of conflicting conditions to divine what tribal leaders understood at the time [a given] treaty was made.”

A sturdy companion to Michael Lieder and Jake Page’s Wild Justice (1997)—highly recommended for readers interested in Native American issues.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2004

ISBN: 0-316-89689-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2004

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more