The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family, and Fate

Front Cover
PublicAffairs, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 365 pages
44 Reviews
Marjorie Williams knew Washington from top to bottom. Beloved for her sharp analysis, elegant prose and exceptional ability to intuit character, Williams wrote political profiles for the Washington Post and Vanity Fair that came to be considered the final word on the capital's most powerful figures. Her accounts of playing ping-pong with Richard Darman, of Barbara Bush's stepmother quaking with fear at the mere thought of angering the First Lady, and of Bill Clinton angrily telling Al Gore why he failed to win the presidency — to name just three treasures collected here — open a window on a seldom-glimpsed human reality behind Washington's determinedly blank façade.

Williams also penned a weekly column for the Post's op-ed page and epistolary book reviews for the online magazine Slate. Her essays for these and other publications tackled subjects ranging from politics to parenthood. During the last years of her life, she wrote about her own mortality as she battled liver cancer, using this harrowing experience to illuminate larger points about the nature of power and the randomness of life.

Marjorie Williams was a woman in a man's town, an outsider reporting on the political elite. She was, like the narrator in Randall Jarrell's classic poem, "The Woman at the Washington Zoo," an observer of a strange and exotic culture. This splendid collection — at once insightful, funny and sad — digs into the psyche of the nation's capital, revealing not only the hidden selves of the people that run it, but the messy lives that the rest of us lead.

  

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Williams was a very good writer, incisive and aware. - Goodreads
brilliant, witty, wonderful writing. - Goodreads
Her honesty and insights took my breath away. - Goodreads
Great lady, great writing. - Goodreads
She is an excellent writer, very observant and witty. - Goodreads
We have lost an amazing writer with her death. - Goodreads

Review: The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family, and Fate

User Review  - Neni Marlina - Goodreads

The book may work as one memoir of Marjorie's sharp analysis, elegant prose and exceptional ability to intuit character. She really knew Washington from top to bottom! Read full review

Review: The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family, and Fate

User Review  - Julie Baker - Goodreads

This is the type of book where I need to keep the dictionary app open. Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Protocol Archie and Lucky Roosevelt
3
The Philanthropist Gwendolyn Cafritz
12
The Pragmatist Richard Darman
30
The Wife Barbara Bush
55
The Rainmaker Vernon Jordan
77
The Hack Tony Coelho
99
The Sibling Jeb Bush
118
Scenes from a Marriage Bill Clinton and Al Gore
132
The Art of the Fake Apology
259
Real Complicated
262
Dying for Dollars
265
Do Parents Suffer Discrimination?
268
The Political Wife RIP
271
The Widows Mandate
274
Uriah Heep Goes to Washington
277
Run for Your Life
280

ESSAYS
153
Makeup and Ms
155
Reader I Married
160
Persuasion
166
Why Character Matters in Politics
170
Thank You Clarence Thomas
181
The Princess Puzzle
185
Entomophobia
189
The Alchemist
196
In Conversation
209
Bill Clinton Feminist
220
Why Parents Still Matter
234
Flying to LA
240
A Second Thought on Assisted Suicide
248
The Cat Race
250
Grandparents Rights
253
The Parent Trap
256
A Womans Place Is at the Bar
289
Mommy at Her Desk
292
Liar Liar
295
The HeartFull Dodger
298
A Working Moms Comedy
300
A Woman Who Knew Her Due
302
TIME AND CHANCE
305
A Cancer Memoir
307
Telling the Real Real Truth
340
The Random Death of Our Sense of Ease
343
The Doctor Factor
346
The Halloween of My Dreams
349
Acknowledgments
352
Rights and Permissions
356
Index
357
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Marjorie Williams was born in Princeton, NJ in 1958 and died in 2005. She is survived by her husband, Timothy Noah, senior writer at Slate, who edited this volume, and her children, Alice and Will.

Bibliographic information