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Washington Burning: How a Frenchman's Vision of Our Nation's Capital Survived Congress, the Founding Fathers, and the Invading British Arm: How a ... Fathers, and the Invading British Army [Audiobook, CD, Ungekürzte Ausgabe] [Englisch] [Audio CD]

Les Standiford , Michael Prichard

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Kurzbeschreibung

Mai 2008
Washington Burning transports us in time to the very founding of our nation and its capital. We learn that the Washington we know might never have come to be had it not been for the destruction of the young city by British troops in 1814, or for Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the eccentric, passionate, difficult architect who fell in love with his adopted country. L’Enfant’s sweeping vision of a grand Federal City inspired President George Washington but earned the enmity of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who hated the idea of an imperial city. So was the capital born of feuding personalities, and located on the banks of the Potomac only after great political struggle.
Master storyteller Les Standiford has once again written a compelling, quintessentially American story of hubris and achievement.
 
“Masterful…For the lover of U.S. history or Washingtonian architecture or even basic political intrigue, this marvelous new history, probably the best to date on L'Enfant and his troubled life, is essential.” — Miami Herald

"Scrupulously researched…Standiford has a novelist's gift for engaging, briskly paced narration." 
Library Journal
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Synopsis

An early history of Washington, D.C., describes how the city became the nation's capital, the design of eccentric French architect Pierre Charles L'Enfant, and the 1814 burning of the city by British troops.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

LES STANDIFORD is the author of Last Train to Paradise, Meet You in Hell, and the forthcoming The Man Who Invented Christmas. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Amazon.com: 4.2 von 5 Sternen  12 Rezensionen
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Interesting Story Reads Well 25. Juni 2008
Von Q. Publius - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Les Standiford is a successful novelist and a great story teller. His story of the selection of Washington DC, the building of the public buildings, their burning during the War of 1812, and the rebuilding afterwards reads like a novel and is well worth reading. There are a few errors but not fatal ones. I'm not a historian, but James Madison was not a senator (page 67); Patrick Henry became his political enemy in Virginia after losing the state ratification vote on the Constitution, and the opposition of Henry's followers resulted in Madison serving in the House rather than the Senate. On page 267 Madison at Bladensburg is described as the only president to be on a battlefield, but Lincoln was shot at in July 1864 at Fort Stevens in DC during Jubal Early's attack. The author says the burning of Washington was a kind of Pearl Harbor or 9/11 of its day, with citizens so outraged that their largely indifferent attitude to the new Potomac location was tranformed into a determination to rebuild on the site. But the vote in Congress to keep the capital in DC and rebuild only passed by nine votes, so this comparison may be a bit overblown. Also, the roles and characters of Andrew Ellicot and Benjamin Banneker could have been developed more. Despite these comments this book is well worth the read, especially for it's portrayal of George Washington, L'Enfant, Adams, and the Madisons, with tribute to the courageous role of Dolley Madison in saving many valuables from the White House. This is a very interesting story most Americans aren't aware of, and they'd profit from the well told tale of the founding of our nation's capital and the personalities of the real characters involved in the story.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen The Quirky Beginnings of Our Nation's Capital 14. Januar 2009
Von Michael L. Shakespeare - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Les Standiford's entertaining and eloquent "Washington Burning" tells the story of the difficult breach birth of our nation's capital, presenting the political, diplomatic, military and technical factors that shaped it -- especially its architects.

Mr. Standiford, the director of the Creative Writing Program at Florida International University, writes gracefully, and the story he weaves around the building of Federal City offers fresh perspectives, despite the vast literature on the founding fathers that has gone before.

The author addresses some less familiar issues of the history of our federal buildings, throwing light upon their rain soaked nooks and crumbling crannies.

Mr. Standiford has done his homework, and rests his views on the study of several primary sources. He has profitably mined the letters of architect Pierre Charles L'Enfant and George Washington in the Library of Congress. His detailed narrative is in part composed painstakingly from the French-born L'Enfant's poorly worded, confusing correspondence.

A little over two centuries ago, Washington D.C. occupied an insignificant place in the world; today, things are very different. He tells us its story with sympathy, humor and a rubbish pile of fascinating detail.

Mr. Standiford's central point is simple: "The efforts of Washington, L'Enfant, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Hamilton to build, defend, and rebuild Washington D.C., in its fledgling years is a microcosm for the building of the nation itself, the first in a never-ending series of internal struggles to preserve our nation and its way of government...that plagues and inspires us to this day."

The author is well aware of the political minefield that awaits any unflattering study of our founding fathers -- especially Washington and Jefferson.

In the "Author's Note" Mr. Standiford tells us how the idea for this book originated in the days following the 9/11 attacks as he was reminded of the British destruction of Washington D.C. in 1814 -- too bad he overreached in trying to draw parallels with today's acts of terrorism and the British occupation and destruction of Washington D.C. 187 years before. This story is good enough to stand on its own.

Mr. Standiford details the choosing of the site and procurement of land for the capital city itself, day by day: the deals, the funding, the successes, the losses and the shifting political and financial arguments. The genius of George Washington's leadership in these difficult negotiations is clear.

Mr. Standiford's principle character, Frenchman Pierre Charles L'Enfant, famously known as the "Architect of Washington City," is the stuff of legend. L'Enfant was, as Mr. Standiford shows, "eccentric and passionate and difficult," which makes for fascinating reading.

Future presidents, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe make mostly cameo appearances, in deference to L'Enfant and the other passionate overworked architects.

The early years -- long before he undertook the redesign of Fort Washington on the Potomac, long before he and Hamilton planned the six square mile S.U.M. headquarters site in New Jersey, long before he masqueraded as America's foremost military engineer -- the early years during the Revolutionary War were L'Enfant's best.

Nor does Mr. Standiford slight the relatively unheralded but vitally important contributions of the long line of other mercurial architects: Hallet, Thornton, Hadfield, Latrobe, and Bullfinch. Completing the nation's capital was a giant task -- too much for one individual -- architect or president. Although the initial planning was the inspiration of Pierre Charles L'Enfant, many others were needed to successfully finish the task. Still, Mr. Standiford has provided a tantalizing glimpse into all their passionate temperaments.

The author takes us skillfully through the prehistory of Federal City -- from the choosing of the site for the new capital, to acquisition of the land, to the city planning by L'Enfant and his dismissal, to the design contests for the President's Palace and the Congress House in 1792. The resulting book is informative, readable and concise.

But beyond the familiar tale of wars and presidents, Mr. Standiford deftly underscores the frugal, rustic, even foolish nature of the age.

"Washington Burning" is enormously entertaining, especially in the deft descriptions of L'Enfant's personality and his life under the scrutiny of the founding fathers.

But all the way through, Mr. Standiford offers incisive details and insights that make "Washington Burning" a measured. deeply sympathetic and well balanced; it is a great read.

His tale is a catalog of disappointment and frustration, brimming with plenty of useful insights and anecdotes. It is always absorbing, frequently moving and sometimes funny.

It is impossible not to be struck by how unmanageable L'Enfant was. It is clear that for L'Enfant, "supervision" meant nothing whatsoever other than to be opposed to him. The picture that emerges from L'Enfant is both disturbing and perplexing -- a haughty man of soaring ideas working on behalf of a penniless government, he struggled with labor shortages, project funding and never receiving adequate compensation in return.

He was always at odds with his overseers it seemed -- he ordered marble, they wanted brick.

L'Enfant's whole career as an architect was one of vast over expenditures. His huge cost overruns constructing a grand house for America's richest man landed Robert Morris in the poor house.

L'Enfant's lifetime was spent in dogged pursuit of the founding fathers for compensation, into the very halls of Congress, makes the book worth reading.

With no steady income, he found himself slipping in poverty. But at least L'Enfant's arrogant story has a happy ending with his rescue from extreme poverty in old age by William Dudley Digges, who "revered the major's contributions."

As in his latest book, Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean, Mr. Standiford loads his pages with interesting information: Opposing the 100 square mile federal district proposed by L'Enfant, the frugal Thomas Jefferson had touted a site on the Potomac that comprised only 50 acres -- John Adams "groused" his whole life over how the nearby Washington and Custis property was increased in value "100 percent" by adjoining Washington City -- The new U.S. Capitol featured an adjoining 70x8x13 ft. privy built for congressman's convenience -- Originally planned as a commercial canal, the Tiber River was filled in to make Constitution Ave.

The last part of the book. particularly after the removal of L'Enfant, has a somewhat rushed, superficial feel to it as a long line of architects come and go struggling to complete the work under intolerable circumstances especially starting over after the British raid in 1814.

Nevertheless, "Washington Burning" is a skillful, absorbing, often moving contribution to the understanding of one of the few episodes in history to live on unknown and misunderstood in our collective memory.

In fact, this unusual tale should be read by anyone who wants real insights into the design of the White House and U.S. Capitol. It is as good a primer on the hopeless bureaucracy and shameless haggling of the times as you will find.

As Mr. Standiford notes at the end of his book, "While the most able and revered of statesmen established the philosophical underpinnings and devised the laws that guide the United States, its was a self-trained architect and lover of liberty named L'Enfant who created the vessel that carries them down through time."
6 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A watershed event in our nation's history 24. Mai 2008
Von The Junior Clerk - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Les Standiford's Washington Burning focuses on an often ignored, but highly significant event in our nation's history--the British invasion of Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812. With a historian's meticulous eye and a novelist's flair for drama, Standiford recounts the efforts of the brilliant, eccentric architect, Peter L'Enfant, whose vision for the nation's capitol ultimately prevailed in the face of political resistance, rampant corruption, and the devastation of war. At the same time, Washington Burning describes how a terrorist attack on U.S. soil galvanized a nation. This well-written book is highly recommended.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Fun Book 16. Juni 2008
Von Howard Butler MD - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I would have enjoyed the book more had the author not try to make the analogy of the "War of 1812" and the British Invasion and the Burning of Washington synonymous with the attack on our homeland that took place by maniacal and fanatical Islamic Fascists during 9/11-but that is the way modern day historians see things.

Having said that, the story is very compelling and L'Enfant an amazing character worth reading. While the writer has taken some liberty in portraying the personal frustrations of Washington in dealing with this artsy fartsy character, he also does an extraordinary job of making what most likely occurred behind the scenes come to life. Jefferson as usual is portrayed as a slick politician whose behind the scene maneuvering would have been very welcome in today's political climate. This seems to be a theme that all authors adhere to.

What is best about this book is to see a prescient dream come to life despite all the hostilities and power struggles.

In the long run who won in the famous trade? Hamilton with Assumption and the establishment of a National Bank or Jefferson/Madison with the Washington being the Capital?

Very worthwhile reading if you like history that is palpable. The only reason I took one star away, and that is a personal preference not a criticism, is because for me too many characters are introduced that had a minimal impact on the historical fact that, in my opinion, would have been better left out to allow for smoother reading of this compelling story.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen an informative, briskly paced narrative 23. November 2009
Von Glenn R. Springstead - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Since I work in Washington and get off at the L'Enfant Metro Station, there were a number of appealing things about this book's subject. The author has the story-telling touch, keeping his chapters modest in length and allowing the characters in the story, particularly the city of Washington's first and most influential designer, Pierre Charles L'Enfant, to speak. Unfortunately, the story of L'Enfant is not always a positive one, and he appears to have spent many of his years after losing his job as city designer nearly destitute. It was encouraging to read, however, that L'Enfant's original design and influence on the city of Washington received its fair due many years after L'Enfant's death. L'Enfant is now buried in Arlington Cemetary with a "view" of the city he did so much to create. The book's telling of the British invasion and sacking of Washington in 1814 is also interesting. I wonder what would have happened had President Madison stayed in the city and in the White House. It seems as if the British, as destructive of public property as they were, were careful about the treatment of the city's people. Maybe Madison, along with Dolley, could have prevented the burning of the President's House, as it was then called. Secretary of State, then Secretary of War, and finally President James Monroe comes off as a courageous leader, seemingly risking his life by trying to track the British forces around Washington (Monroe had served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War). Monroe also cared a great deal for L'Enfant, who it must be admitted was a rather quirky character, by trying to get him another government job.
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