Many books are the offspring of a publisher's understandable desire to show a profit, rather than of a writer's compulsion to express his own ideas and feelings; but fortunately most writers are considerate and artful enough to disguise the former motive. Mr. Herron a reporter for the Washington Post, seems to be a different case. He has produced a meandering, gossipy, uninspired cross between an informal history and a tourist's guide to ""the world's most important piece of real estate"". Beginning even before Pierre L'Enfant sliced the place up on his drawing board, Mr. Herron gives all the details pertaining to all the public buildings, the many churches, and the notable old homes on Capitol Hill. Little-known facts and esoteric anecdotes abound; but perhaps like its subject, this book has no observable plan or meaningful perspective. This is a pity, because given half a chance, the material would be fascinating. The only definite impression which remains here is that Mr. Herron must have been just as bored as his readers would be throughout this armchair tour.