Lord all mighty this was a dense one. I guess I’ve gotten accustomed to novelized non-fiction a la Erik Larsen because I did not anticipate the depths into which I was diving. Reading this is like reading a textbook. There’s a lot to absorb and my reading time was curtailed by its library due date (and the increasing load of loans I’ve been accumulating). It’s an incredible work of research and I’m going to reread it, it’s just a lot. Literally 25% of the book is endnotes, like that much a lot.
I live smack in the heart of gentrifying Washington, so I went into this book knowing I am the problem but with only passing understanding of the history of the problem and the volume of problems. It is vast and it is dark. While the disenfranchisement of the District impacts me as much as it impacts other residents, I had no idea that it was the Me’s of the past who made it happen. That’s right, the wealthy, affluent residences of D.C. past gave up suffrage rather than live in a democratic city that would be theoretically run by the local majority that did not look like them. The privileged few sold off D.C.’s rights in exchange for an appointed council, leaving us in the present to wail about our lack of representation without any real appreciation for how we got here (or how close we got in the 1970s to a DC voting rights act! Or that it was freaking Nixon who, at least temporarily, restored home rule!)
There was so much to learn in this book, I worry I won’t retain even a fraction of it. On the whole it is incredible and I highly recommend it, whether or not you live in the District. There’s a copy for sale at my local bookstore – I wonder if they realize they’re namedropped in the epilogue, and not necessarily in the most flattering way.