Standiford, Les. WASHINGTON BURNING: How a Frenchman’s Vion for our Nation’s Capital Survived Congress, the Founding Fathers, and the Invading British Army. (U.S. – 2008). ****. As you might guess from the subtitle, the book is about more than the burning of Washington by the British in 1814. Standiford is a professor at Florida International University in Miami, where he directs the Creative Writing Program. I first hooked up with him when he was writing crime novels – all of which were pretty good. Recently, however, he has been writing popular history books that have no common thrust; they are just about things that interest him. One of his previous books was, “Last Train to Paradise,” about Flagler’s attempt to connect mainland Florida with the Keys by railroad. Fascinating. This book ends up with the British raid on Washington, but most of the story revolves around Pierre L’Enfante, the French architect who was – mainly – responsible for the design of the city itself. It was unfortunate that L’Enfante was not more aware of the nature of politics and of the private agendas people have. He also had a problem with authority. He could not stand to report to anyone except the top man, which in this case was George Washington himself. Washington was a strong supporter of L’Enfant, but even he had to eventually give in to the demands of the various commissions that he had put in charge of the project and to whom L’Enfant was supposed to report. L’Enfant was eventually replaced by a succession of architects – all of whom tended to be headstrong and completely individualistic. It was only after the destruction of Federal City, however, that the country united in a common cause to have the city rebuilt. This was, probably, the most significant result of the British terrorist attack on the city. Lots of interesting stuff here. Recommended.