A longtime Washingtonian, humorist, and former speechwriter for Vice President Bush, Buckley takes readers on four walks, visiting sights from the Capitol and the Smithsonian to the Jefferson Memorial and Ford’s Theatre. While his tour doesn’t extend much farther than the Mall, entertaining historical tidbits and personal anecdotes make up for the lack of mileage.
The book is packed with Jeopardy-esque trivia—the hands on the Lincoln Memorial statue form “A” and “L” in sign language—and Buckley’s observations are usually worth a laugh: “On New Year’s Day 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt shook the hands of 8,100 callers at the White House. Goes with the job, but Roosevelt had become president because his predecessor had been shot in a reception line.” Plus, it’s always good to have a tour guide who has stolen playing cards from Air Force One.
The book is geared more to an armchair traveler than to an actual one. Buckley crams eight museums, a few other buildings, and a monument into one walk—quite an itinerary, even for the ambitious. Directions to sights are vague, and no information such as hours is included.
Even so, Washington Schlepped Here makes for breezy reading. Although the sarcastic tone gets somewhat tiresome toward the end, the book is a colorful tour of the city and a fun walking companion.