Bethesda Magazine July / August 2021 Book Report

For many Americans, George Washington is a distant figure on the dollar bill, says David stewart. But when the author of The Potomac was researching a book on the first president, he discovered the human side of Washington. “I was struck by how his contemporaries liked him. He had a real emotional intelligence and a formidable gift of listening, explains Stewart, who wrote George Washington: The Political Rise of America’s Founding Father (Dutton, February 2021). The book focuses on Washington’s formative years at the Virginia House of Bourgeois and shows how he, as a politician, was able to effectively engage with others. “You must have a connection. Real intellect is great, but it doesn’t get you elected, ”says Stewart. “People should feel that you care about you. “


This Is What America Looks Like: The Washington Writers Publishing House Anthology (Washington Writers’ Publishing House, February 2021) is a collection of poetry and fiction by 100 local writers representing “the voices and the full diversity of DMV,” says co-editor Caroline Bock of the Potomac. Bock worked with co-editor Jona Colson from Washington, DC, and Kathleen Wheaton from Bethesda, who wrote the preface. The one-year volunteer project attracted over 1,000 applications. “The prompt ‘What is America like?’ really resonated, ”Bock says of the work that explores the pandemic, race, social justice, the immigrant experience and the region’s history. “We are at a crossroads in this country. People who are writers, who are artists, think very deeply about the question, “Where does America go from here?” “”


Louisa jaggar says too many history books overlook the accomplishments of people of color and women. That’s why the Bethesda author co-founded The Greatest Stories Never Told nonprofit and wrote Sprouting Wings: The True Story of James Herman Banning, the First African American Pilot to Cross the United States (Crown Books for Young Readers, January 2021) with co-author Shari Becker of Boston. “Heroes come in all shapes, sizes, races, religions and sexes,” says Jaggar, who spent 10 years researching Banning’s life for this children’s book and a play called The Flying Hobos. In 1932, Banning flew from Los Angeles to New York in 21 days (with mechanic Thomas Allen), landing on the way in small towns. They put the names of the people who helped them on the wing of the plane.


After years of writing organized crime novels, which often take place in his home state of New Jersey, Eric Dezenhall based his seventh, False light (Greenleaf, February 2021), Washington, DC, with a few scenes in Bethesda, where he currently lives. The book follows a veteran journalist and his friend in a revenge plot to smear a media star’s reputation after the friend’s daughter accuses the star of sexual assault. “This is character assassination,” says Dezenhall, who runs a crisis management company in his day job. The era of #MeToo, fake news and scandals inspired the premise of a story he describes as, “What would happen to a guy who got away with this all his life and found himself at the mercy?” from someone like him?

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