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Through a Fiery Trial
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About the Author

Bob Arnebeck has been writing about Washington history for fifteen years. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Leslie Kuter, and their son, Ottoleo.

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Arnebeck offers the first full-length history of the establishment of the national capital in Washington, D.C. After outlining the machinations involved in selecting a site, the author painstakingly details the progress in building the capital, recounting one year of activity per chapter from 1791 to 1801. In the process, he describes the roles of James Madison, architect Pierre L'Enfant, speculators Samuel Blodget and James Greenleaf, and Washington himself. Arnebeck provides a readable, meticulously researched narrative which intends to chronicle the course of events rather than explain and interpret them. This very detailed work is recommended for interested (and informed) history fans.-- David Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle

To judge from this colorful, hugely entertaining, irreverent history, it's a wonder Washington, D.C., got built at all. George Washington welcomed Congress's decision to move from Philadelphia to the Potomac, but just before his death in 1799, the first president vented his spleen at nine years of inept financing, lawsuits, builders' inflated costs, real estate sharks' greed and other roadblocks that impeded the capital's develoment. Obstinate French architect Pierre Charles L'Enfant jockeyed for total control of the city's construction, spreading confusion in his wake. His successor, Samuel Blodget, an ingratiating Bostonian, frittered away seven years trying to salvage a $350,000 lottery he organized to finance an unfinished hotel. Land speculator Thomas Jefferson, charmed by the capital's rural character, cultivated more botanists than he did investors in the city. Arnebeck ( Proust's Last Beer: A History of Curious Demises ) draws on reams of previously untapped archival material for this exhaustive year-by-year chronicle. (Jan.)

To judge from the colorful, hugely entertaining, irreverent history, it's a wonder Washington, D.C., got built at all. George Washington welcomed Congress's decisions to move from Philadelphia to the Potomac, but just before his death in 1799, the first president vented his spleen at nine years of inept financing, lawsuits, builders' inflated costs, real estate sharks' greed and other roadblocks that impeded the capital's developement. Obstinate French architect Pierre Charles L'Enfant jockeyed for total control of the city's construction, spreading confusion in his wake. His successor, Samuel Blodget, an ingratiating Bostonian, frittered away seven years trying to salvage a $350,000 lottery he organized to finance an unfinished hotel. Land speculator Thomas Jefferson, charmed by the capital's rural character, cultivated more botanists than he did investors in the city. Arnebeck draws on reams of previously untapped archival material for this exhaustive year-by-year chronicle. * Publishers Weekly *

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