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Washington Goes to War: The Extraordinary Story of the Transformation of a City and a Nation
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Washington Goes to War: The Extraordinary Story of the Transformation of a City and a Nation

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  349 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
This book of the just-retired newsman's reminiscences of Washington at the dawn of America's involvement in World War II is no mere historical curiosity shop. It's very instructive about the way Washington still works. For instance, Brinkley tells us that in September 1941, while FDR was still wavering about where to put the military's new headquarters building, an Army ge ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 12th 1988 by Knopf (first published 1988)
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Gaabriel  Becket
Feb 04, 2009 Gaabriel Becket rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic book. David Brinkley wrote about the changes that took place in Washington, DC as a result of WWII, how it went from basically a sleepy little burg where visitors walked into the president's office and bounced on his chair, to the sprawling bureaucratic machine we all know today. He writes about it directly and vividly because he was there and saw it, what the people were like as people (Alice Roosevelt, eeew!), what the town was like, snapshots of things that make it come al ...more
Apr 06, 2009 Sheila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you love the city of Washington DC, are preparing to visit, or recently visited, this is a fun read. Brinkley writes about the incredible period during Roosevelt's 3rd term when the number of buildings and the city's population exploded. The cast of real-life characters are more exciting than some of the best fiction you'll ever encounter. Brinkley's style is candid and honest. A great read for your flight into our nation's grand Capitol! Then, you'll want to visit Embassy row, the Pentagon, ...more
Mar 29, 2008 +Chaz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to +Chaz by: I did
Funny at times, Brinkley really tells you the way it was in Washington DC during WWII. Detailed and well written, it’s a must read for anyone that has the slightest interest in history or Politics
Jan 13, 2009 Violeta marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
"... i am a journalist, not a historian, and while this book is an effort to describe a moment in the past, it is less of history than of personal reminiscence and reflection...."
Jan 25, 2017 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The descriptions by author David Brinkley of how Washington, DC, was before Pearl Harbor and after December 7, 1941, revealed much I didn't know and/or hadn't considered in my various readings about the history of the war. Washington had to change its ways of doing things almost overnight. New, cheap housing had to be built to house the thousands of needed clerical and professional people who arrived within days of the declaration of war. How people lived, how deals were made, how President Roos ...more
Paul Haspel
Jun 11, 2015 Paul Haspel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: washington-dc
Washington, D.C., grows at a moderate rate in time of peace, but grows very quickly in time of war. It happened during the American Civil War, when the “sleepy Southern town” of antebellum days became a well-fortified, confident, and forward-looking Union capital; and it happened quite recently, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when an entirely new homeland security apparatus had to be formed, virtually from scratch. Perhaps most famously, it happened during the Second World Wa ...more
Pat DiGeorge
Jan 02, 2015 Pat DiGeorge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Newscaster and journalist David Brinkley tells the story of the transformation of the capital city during World War II.

Mr. Brinkley writes nothing about his personal military involvement in the war. I finally found in a article explaining that in 1940, he volunteered for the Army. A year later he was misdiagnosed with a kidney ailment and honorably discharged. He then worked in Atlanta and Nashville for UPI (United Press International) before moving to Washington, D.C. as a reporter f
Nov 25, 2016 Nolan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nls-audio
One of the most frequently repeated themes of the last election cycle has been that Washington is broken, that the Congress is dysfunctional, and on it goes. The purveyors of that message sought to convince us that this is a relatively new development. If you believe them, you want to ring your hands and scream with frustration. But history is always the best teacher, and in this case, it teaches well. The truth is that the Congress has probably always been dysfunctional to one degree or another ...more
David Brown
David Brinkley is my hero. He was a daily voice in our home at the six o'clock news hour, and I remember my brother and I once repeated their closing lines when we went to bed: “Good night, Chet.” “Good night, David.” He was an important figure in America. (The folks in Wayne, West Virginia even named a bridge for him.) Brinkley was the man in the know, and later I thoroughly enjoyed watching him preside over ABC News' This Week with David Brinkley. Who better to relate to us the goings on in ou ...more
Oct 19, 2013 Riley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At times this book went a little off topic, veering from Washington D.C. into a more general history of World War II. But I enjoyed it, and I was impressed with David Brinkley’s writing style and some of his turns of phrase.

A few that I underscored:

“Some three hundred miles south of Washington, in the small port city of Wilmington, North Carolina, a young part-time reporter [presumably Brinkley himself] for the Morning Star poked idly around the Cape Fear River docks. At the foot of Walnut Stre
May 19, 2015 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The hearty
Very disappointing book -- as in I expected lots more than it delivered. Perhaps my expectations were to blame.

I was expecting a memoir, and in the preface Brinkley says the book is ". . . personal reminiscence and reflection. Essentially, it is an account of my own observations and experiences . . . supplemented by material drawn from interviews and other sources." So was I wrong to expect a memoir? Don't think so.

In any event, Brinkley is missing in action here . . . there are a few mentions o
Jul 05, 2010 Meredith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have long looked for a befittingly engrossing account of Washington's unmatched war years, and am pleased to say Brinkley exceeded my hopes for an utterly, as I read it described, "vivid" tale. I never imagined, for example, that the military structures blighting the Mall - those depicted in photographs that had intrigued me for years - were Roosevelt's pet project and owed their blessed temporary nature to his foresight. This Washingtonian extends you her heartfelt gratitude, Mr. President.

Mar 11, 2008 C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book, veteran journalist David Brinkley presented a multitude of topics that collectively painted a picture of war-time Washington. His use of descriptive language, coupled by his lively narratives, made him a skilled storyteller and this book a fascinating read. Although Washington Goes to War dealt nearly exclusively with the history of one single American city, this book nevertheless provides insight to WW2 on a whole as it provided insight on the environment in which American policy ...more
Patricia Pugsley
Incredible! I've lived in the DC area all my life. I'm a (retro) new dealer. This described the atmosphere in Washington, and all the things that happened during that incredible time. Although I read it over ten years ago, it really made an impression on me. Mr. Brinkley wrote a great account of everything going on, the overcrowding, the weather, the scrambling to deal with the war, and just about everything you can possibly think of. It's a local account of all the events that took place. If yo ...more
Mar 26, 2008 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who care about DC during WWII and the changes in the bureaucracy
Shelves: 2008, nonfiction
I don't usually read history books, but Matt gave this to me and it captured my interest because it's about the transformation of my new city, Washington, DC, during WWII. There are colorful anecdotes about how the city changed from a sleepy backwater into a bustling city, accompanying the huge expansion of the federal government during WWII. It was interesting to see certain parallels with the current war (unprecedented expansion of Presidential power, factiosn of Congress totally opposed to Am ...more
Frank Stein
Jan 05, 2009 Frank Stein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A journalistic report of DC during WWII. Again, the historian in me rebels against the lack of citations, but Brinkley gives a the reader a real feel for the chaos of wartime Washington, and at least offers hints at how the city and our society grew out of the war's ramifications. Everything from the Pentagon, to the State Department building, to National Airport to our modern Mall emerged during those four years.

As an old progressive said, "War is the health of the state." This shows that war
Jan 17, 2015 Jerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Washington Metropolitan area’s population increased by over 50% between 1930 and 1941. Another 70,000 arrived in 1942, and 5,000 new federal workers were added every month. The reason was war, and the rumor of war. The book covers the period from 1939 to 1945, with much wandering in between. Part of it is from Brinkley’s personal memories of the period, and much more from interviews.
Sep 13, 2009 Crystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good, insightful. Brinkley paints a vivid picture of the changes Washington underwent from The Depression to the end of WWII. We don't tend to think of Washington as ever being a "sleepy town" but it once was and within less than a generation changed pretty much into what it is today. The FDR years including that congress and the press editorials of the day? wow, what a tangled web of power, influence and deceit! Fascinating people.
Feb 01, 2016 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't use this word often but this was a delightful book - a mix of personal reminiscences and research - that brought the city of Washington D.C. during WWII alive for the reader.

I bought this book from the old Main Street Bookstore in Sarasota in the early 90s and it has made every move with me since, waiting patiently for me to pick it up and give it a try one day.
This book gives a completly different perspective on WWII. The view in and around Washington DC during war time is really interesting. The politics, the disagreements, grudges, employment boom and housing shortages. Plus I never realized how dis organized and somewhat unproductive a lot of the wartime efforts were. This is a really good book with a unique perspective.
Apr 05, 2009 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great history written in a super fascinating way. You will not be able to put this down. Tells the story of the Hooverville's and how people in Washington (politicians and everyone!) acted leading up to WWII. Even talks about secretaries and what the had to wear or get fired. I've read this like 3 times now.
Jul 27, 2016 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fun and smooth read. Brinkley mentions long forgotten details while writing about major events. He might say something like, On the way from work people gathered at the drugstore to listen to FDR on Jim's Westinghouse radio. with a single sentence he paints a picture of the era. After reading this book I have a better idea of what it was like in Washington during the war.
Feb 24, 2014 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was filled with really interesting insights into DC and the US government's preparedness going into WWII. Unbelievable really. My Dad recommended this book to me and I have a copy if anyone wants to follow the trail I blazed.
Papa Moon
Excellent history of Washington D.C. during World War II. Contains a great deal of interesting historical detail, and events that resulted in an explosive increase in the size of the U.S. government, that did not decline after the war, but kept growing.
Jul 07, 2008 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*sigh* Oh, how I miss David Brinkley. Read this great book about lesser known stories that happened on the home front of DC during WWII as collected and told by the late great Mr. Brinkley. Another one I LOVED!
Gil Burket
Jan 11, 2015 Gil Burket rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, women-s-history
Excellent first person account of Washington DC during World War II. Describes the transformation of a sleepy southern city into a center of world power. It also describes the changing role of women, and the significance of their contributions to running the wartime bureaucracy.
Stephanie LGW
Aug 06, 2012 Stephanie LGW rated it really liked it
Similar to the story of Roald Dahl, Julia Child and the OSS, but with way less of an emphasis on parties and sex. This actually told stories about the war and FDR, rather than who was sleeping with whom while married to X, Y, or Z (though it did have a bit of that too).
Dec 03, 2012 Marvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very in depth look at Washington, D.C. during the war years. As always Brinkley tells a personal story with candor and honesty. I never tire of reading his books.
Jun 23, 2011 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading along with my dad. about halfway through and pretty amazing how unprepared the country was for WWII.
Sep 07, 2012 Jordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting read! Brinkley does a good job presenting an aspect of the War that I've never seen before, and fleshes it out in a humanizing fashion.
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Full name: David McClure Brinkley

*ABC and NBC newscaster
*Co-anchored the Huntley–Brinkley Report
*NBC Nightly News co-anchor and correspondent
*Sunday This Week with David Brinkley

*ten Emmy Awards
*three George Foster Peabody Awards
*Presidential Medal of Freedom

More about David Brinkley...

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