News & Politics

A Night Out: Carlson Hosts James Gaines’ Book Release Party

Top journalists gather to celebrate the publication of James Gaines' new book.

Journalists Lee Aitken and Margaret Carlson with "For Liberty & Glory" author James Gaines.

What: A reception for author James Gaines on the publication of his new book, For Liberty and Glory: Washington, Lafayette, and Their Revolutions

Where: The Georgetown home of Margaret Carlson

When: September 13, 6:30 to 8:30 PM

Who: A small and intimate gathering of elite media types. Most of those present were affiliated with Time magazine or Bloomberg, as hostesses Margaret Carlson and Lee Aitken are both former Time journalists. Carlson, now a Bloomberg columnist, was the magazine’s first woman columnist; Aitken was a senior editor. James Gaines, the guest of honor, was visiting from Paris, where he lives with his wife and children. He is a former editor at Time and People and the author of several books including Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment. Karen Tumulty, Time’s national political correspondent, based in DC, and Mike Allen, chief political correspondent for Politico and former White House correspondent for Time, rounded off the list of the Time affiliated who were present.

Among those representing Bloomberg were executive Washington editor Al Hunt and reporter Tim Burger. Former US assistant surgeon general Susan Blumnethal and author Sally Quinn also made appearances.


Sally Quinn, Margaret Carlson & James Gaines

Scene: Carlson’s Georgetown home was an ideal location for the intimate reception. Guests were handed a drink—and a hot-off-the-press hardcover book—upon arrival and ushered upstairs to the living room. No more than 30 people were present at any given time, and everyone seemed to know everyone else—or at least someone to introduce them to an unfamiliar face. Guests seemed comfortable, and the steady buzz of good conversation echoed through Carlson’s elegantly decorated home.  The evening air was fresh and cool, allowing people to drift outside onto the patio when the living room became too warm or crowded.

Food: An assortment of relatively healthy finger foods—pita bread and hummus, cheese and crackers, tortilla chips and salsa, veggies and dip. Easy-to-serve was the idea behind most selections, as Carlson had arrived home just as guests were scheduled to arrive.

Drink: Drinks were plentiful throughout the evening despite a bartender who didn’t show up. Glasses were arranged on the dining-room table, and guests could help themselves to wine, beer, juice, or soda. Visitors could also help themselves to Gaines’s new book, stacks of which were scattered around the house.

Book synopsis: Gaines describes the relationship between American General George Washington and the French Marquis de Lafayette as well as their countries’ revolutions, which unfolded simultaneously over the second half of the 18th century. The book emphasizes the friendship between the two men and serves as a reminder that the French were largely responsible for Washington’s victory in the American War for Independence.

Al Hunt, executive editor of Bloomberg News


Boldface names: 2 (out of 5)
Swankiness: 2 (out of 5)
Food and drink: 2.5 (out of 5)
Exclusivity: 4 (out of 5)

Total score: 10.5 (out of 20)