counter create hit The Woman at the Washington Zoo: Writings on Politics, Family, and Fate - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

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

Availability: Ready to download

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 s 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 façe. 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.


Compare
Ads Banner

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 s 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 façe. 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.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Max Gordon

    I originally wrote this in 2008 BBO (before Barack Obama), back when the clamor for Hillary Clinton to concede the race for the presidential nomination was growing bitter and shrill, and I found myself wondering what my friend Marjorie Williams would think. Now Senator Obama is President Obama, and more than ever I wish I could hear her incisive commentary of the state of the Union, so I have revised it to fit the new year and new administration. * * * Without a doubt the most brilliant person, ba I originally wrote this in 2008 BBO (before Barack Obama), back when the clamor for Hillary Clinton to concede the race for the presidential nomination was growing bitter and shrill, and I found myself wondering what my friend Marjorie Williams would think. Now Senator Obama is President Obama, and more than ever I wish I could hear her incisive commentary of the state of the Union, so I have revised it to fit the new year and new administration. * * * Without a doubt the most brilliant person, bar none, I have ever had the privilege of knowing was Marjorie Williams, whose opinions were unfailingly rational, well informed, and incisive, delivered with a deliciously wry wit. She wrote so fluidly as to make it seem effortless, and perhaps it was, for I saw her do it often enough in person: draw instantly upon some vast internal mental filing system for just the right fact, the right quote, the right word, then deliver a word-perfect analysis that left me in awe—and often in hysterics as well. She could toss off gems from obscure corners of the lexicon without ever seeming pretentious (feckless! insouciant! comity! encomium!), and listen to or read the most obtuse information and instantly synthesize a keen summary or commentary. She was amazing. Her opinion on the Democratic nomination process and the electric zeitgeist of the Obama inauguration would hold great weight. As an op-ed columnist for the Washington Post and the author of numerous trenchant political profiles for Vanity Fair on people in and around the DC political scene, she would have had no trouble sizing up this unprecedented situation and penning a clever, concise, and illuminating opinion. I'd be particularly interested in hearing her riff on the roles that gender and race played in this particular election. Before the nomination was a done deal, presidential historian (and alleged serial plagiarist) Doris Kearns Goodwin was quoted as saying, "When people look at the arc of the campaign, it will be seen that being a woman, in the end, was not a detriment and if anything it was a help to [Clinton]." Marjorie wouldn't have repeated the oft-repeated, egregious contradictions to this (the men in New Hampshire asking her to iron their shirts, McCain calling her a bitch) and found a string of instances proving that Ms. Goodwin may have been spending a little too much time copying off the papers of her C-student subjects. She would certainly have reminded us how Hillary was staked out for the jackals for her husband's transgressions, and pilloried for failing to play her part as the wronged wife, neither falling tearfully to pieces and blaming herself nor filing for divorce. Instead Hillary behaved with stoic dignity. For this she was accused of being cold and brittle—not to mention a lesbian. (Trust me, not all lesbians can pull off the "stoic dignity" thing. I'm proof of that.) Stoic dignity earns praise in men, scorn in women. When Hillary teared up with joy after winning the NH primary (deservedly so), she was being a typical, emotional woman. Tsk tsk, said everyone, including the apocryphal liberally biased media. Real presidents don't cry. Marjorie being Marjorie, however, she would have had a dozen perfect examples of blatant sexism, ones gleaned first- or second-hand and never before seen in print, and they would have inspired the proper amount of outrage among voters. But she would not have presented a one-sided condemnation of the prevalence and apparent sanctioning of woman-bashing in politics. She was always even-handed. In the late 1990s, she and her husband Timothy Noah wrote a back-and-forth email feature for Slate magazine called "At the Breakfast Table" in which they commented on the latest news. Marjorie wrote, "Smart feminists never strove (nor even wanted) to accomplish the impossible task of taming the male id, only to make it think twice before disporting itself in the public sphere." She herself was the ideal feminist: strong, independent, and unafraid to leap into a traditionally male bastion (in this country at least, the world of politics—even political commentary—is still populated for the most part by white men), and at the same time an adoring mother to two small children and passionately in love with her husband and the challenges and gifts of raising a family. Fortunately, you don't have to take my word for any of this. You can actually read about it in her book. The first half of The Woman at the Washington Zoo (PublicAffairs/Perseus Book Groups, 2006), you'll find some of her elegant political profiles. The second half of the book, though, is pure Marjorie: family vignettes, personal glimpses into her life, and—most heart-wrenching—the story of her own battle with the rare form of liver cancer that finally ended her life at age 47 in January 2005. It's a rare talent that allows someone to write in such poignant detail about her own diagnosis, her treatments (though told she had only several months, she nevertheless lived another three and a half years), and her realization that she would never see her children grow up, and yet never sound morbid or self-pitying. Oh, just read the book. You, too, will feel the loss. There will be so many things you'll wish you could ask her…and not just about politics. * * * By the way, in her piece on weddings, Marjorie mentions having been the "best man" at a wedding; she stood up for the groom, her high-school sweetheart and my then husband-to-be (I was young, okay? If she'd been gay, it might have been him playing bridesmaid for her; I loved her that much. He and I divorced almost two decades ago, but she was no longer single by then).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    What to say now that I've finished this book. I've been reading it slowly, using it as my "appointment" book sometimes, since it can be broken up easily. This is a wonderful compilation of the author's writings, put together posthumously by her husband, Thomas Noah, also a writer. The first section consists primarily of a series of profiles of Washington, D.C. movers and shakers of various stripes. The second is essays on daily life and people large and small that Williams encountered in her work What to say now that I've finished this book. I've been reading it slowly, using it as my "appointment" book sometimes, since it can be broken up easily. This is a wonderful compilation of the author's writings, put together posthumously by her husband, Thomas Noah, also a writer. The first section consists primarily of a series of profiles of Washington, D.C. movers and shakers of various stripes. The second is essays on daily life and people large and small that Williams encountered in her work as a newspaper columnist. The last third deals with her life after her cancer diagnosis. The writing is wonderful throughout but absolutely glows as one progresses into part 2 then into part 3. This is a woman that I would have loved to continue to read as she and I continued to age. As that is not possible, I'm so glad her husband organized this tribute. My rating is 4 to 4.5 for the first section, 5 for the rest of the book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    I don't think a day goes by at the Washington Post, even now, where someone doesn't remember a Marjorie Williams piece and wish she was still here.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie G.

    An excellent collection of the works of the late Marjorie Williams, lovingly curated by her husband, Tim Noah. Williams was a favorite commentator of mine in the late 90's and I was deeply saddened by news of her death in 2005 at the age of 46. I bought this not long after it came out after hearing an NPR interview with Noah. It has been sitting on my shelf since, and I had all but given up on reading it since I thought the majority of the book would be so dated. I was wrong. Noah has split the b An excellent collection of the works of the late Marjorie Williams, lovingly curated by her husband, Tim Noah. Williams was a favorite commentator of mine in the late 90's and I was deeply saddened by news of her death in 2005 at the age of 46. I bought this not long after it came out after hearing an NPR interview with Noah. It has been sitting on my shelf since, and I had all but given up on reading it since I thought the majority of the book would be so dated. I was wrong. Noah has split the book into three parts, profiles of DC power-brokers, columns on politics, parenting, and other matters, and Williams short and utterly perfect memoir of dying in what should have been the middle of her life and leaving behind a family that desperately needed her. I read this book over the course of 9 months, dipping in and out, and leaving it on the shelf for weeks at a time. I think it is the right way to read it. The political profiles and columns are mostly excellent, but simply not intended to be read one after the next. For me at least, the shortest part of the book by far, the cancer memoir, was a single evening's read. I could not pull myself away and it affected me deeply. It is important reading not only for those facing illness, but those who have or will walk that road with someone else. I learned a lot from Williams' frankness. This is subject matter that will never go out of date. The other parts though, also proved timely. Just as the sexual assault allegations arose against the latest addition to the Supreme Court I was coincidentally reading the columns in this book that focused on the Clarence Thomas hearings. I am old enough to clearly remember those hearings, I was a young lawyer by that time and I was obsessed, but time changes the way we think about these things. These columns were like the Trump ice bucket challenge (except not funny and no one benefits.) It was shocking to see Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch once again celebrate sexual misconduct with no movement forward. In fact this iteration was possibly more blatantly misogynist, than 1991. Amazing. As Stormy Daniels elbowed her way into the awareness of Americans I was reading a piece where Williams railed about American feminists giving Bill Clinton a pass as evidence of his serial sexual misconduct piled up. Some of those same feminists have shouted about DJT's grab em by the pussy mentality, but gave a pass to a President (hell any supervisor) who got blow jobs from his 22 year old intern with his wife and daughter essentially down the hall. (I include myself in this group of feminists, and I feel chastened.) A few weeks later when Hillary said Bill's blowjobs were not an abuse of power (they were) these columns written in the 90's still hit hard. There are other examples of the how timely these pieces proved to be, but these spring to mind. This was close to a 5-star for me, but the second section -- the columns -- included a little chunk of stuff (mostly from Slate) not up to the caliber of the rest of the book and it pulled it down a little. Let's say 4.25 and leave it at that. Recommended for those interested in seeing how modern history repeats itself, and how a smart and able commentator can help us understand the world better and to those who just appreciate freaking great writing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    K

    Of her own strengths as a writer, Williams observes at some point that she is better at studies of character than mappings of plot. This is not exactly true; it's amazing how propulsive and engrossing her character studies can be, and how they seem to enfold decades of plot within them. This book collects Williams' shrewd but understanding profiles of remote political figures like Barbara Bush, Vernon Jordan, and Al Gore, as well as shorter personal essays on her family life. The last set of ess Of her own strengths as a writer, Williams observes at some point that she is better at studies of character than mappings of plot. This is not exactly true; it's amazing how propulsive and engrossing her character studies can be, and how they seem to enfold decades of plot within them. This book collects Williams' shrewd but understanding profiles of remote political figures like Barbara Bush, Vernon Jordan, and Al Gore, as well as shorter personal essays on her family life. The last set of essays includes heartbreaking and honest accounts of her experiences after receiving a diagnosis of late stage liver cancer; this collection was published by her husband, after her death. It is an intellectually and emotionally invigorating read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tonya

    I was excited about this book initially. It is the collected works of Marjorie Williams, a former Washington Post political correspondent, who recently died from cancer. I loved the dedication to the book, which quotes the poem "The Woman at The Washington Zoo" and draws similarities between Washington D.C. and a zoo :-) That was the best part of the book though. If you do pick up this book, skip the entire first section unless reveling in memories of the 1990s political scene is your idea of fu I was excited about this book initially. It is the collected works of Marjorie Williams, a former Washington Post political correspondent, who recently died from cancer. I loved the dedication to the book, which quotes the poem "The Woman at The Washington Zoo" and draws similarities between Washington D.C. and a zoo :-) That was the best part of the book though. If you do pick up this book, skip the entire first section unless reveling in memories of the 1990s political scene is your idea of fun! Although I enjoyed sections 2 and 3 of the book more (they were her personal essays and notes about having cancer), they still grated on me a little. It's the whole feminism thing for me all over again! Why is the voice of this movement allocated so regularly to women who have neither practical, day-to-day experience living with/raising children (I don't think that struggling to find the best au pair is that big of a problem in the grand scheme of life), nor the practical work-a-day experiences that most ordinary women face (shift work with no benefits, for instance). And yet, these Ivy League educated, successful-career-before-children types seem to be the ones doing the writing about family life and women's experiences. Williams assumed a particularly grating voice in these essays, believing (or wanting her readers to believe) that she "gets it" when it comes to the daily work/take care of children grind. She writes about topics like motherhood and careers with an assumed familiarity that I find bewildering. I wanted to say "No, Marjorie, you really don't 'get it'!" That being said, the last section on her struggle with cancer was well written, frank and sincere. The final essay, in which she talks about playing dress-up with her daughter right before she entered the hospice stage of care, was particularly poignant.

  7. 4 out of 5

    miteypen

    I had never heard of Marjorie Williams until I ran across this book, probably because she mainly wrote about Washington, D.C. politics and for publications like The Washington Post and Vanity Fair, which I never read. Now I'm sorry that I hadn't been introduced to her before. This book was published posthumously by Williams' husband. It contains a sampling of her writings on a variety of topics, including the excellent "Hit By Lightning: A Cancer Memoir." Because Williams died of liver cancer whe I had never heard of Marjorie Williams until I ran across this book, probably because she mainly wrote about Washington, D.C. politics and for publications like The Washington Post and Vanity Fair, which I never read. Now I'm sorry that I hadn't been introduced to her before. This book was published posthumously by Williams' husband. It contains a sampling of her writings on a variety of topics, including the excellent "Hit By Lightning: A Cancer Memoir." Because Williams died of liver cancer when she was only 47, leaving behind her husband and two young children, some of these essays are especially poignant. But they are not sentimental and I liked them all the better for that. She was a meticulous researcher and her writing is rich in detail and to the point (she didn't mince any words). Being an analytical person myself, I could relate to and appreciate her writings and the mind that created them. I have to admit, however, that I skipped some of the essays because, knowing almost nothing about the political scene or Washington society, I got a little bored trying to read them. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in politics and/or is familiar with Williams' writing. But even if you're not, I would recommend this book for its insights into topics as diverse as Barbara Bush, feminist issues, parenthood and living with a death sentence.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shonna Froebel

    This collection of writing by the journalist Marjorie Williams is divided into three sections. The first section is a selection of her writing on politics in Washington, D.C. and has very interesting insights into a variety of players. The second section is a collection of essays, many of them previously published in the Washington Post. They are about her life, her family, and insights into life in general and really show her intelligence. The last section is about her experience with cancer (w This collection of writing by the journalist Marjorie Williams is divided into three sections. The first section is a selection of her writing on politics in Washington, D.C. and has very interesting insights into a variety of players. The second section is a collection of essays, many of them previously published in the Washington Post. They are about her life, her family, and insights into life in general and really show her intelligence. The last section is about her experience with cancer (which she died from in January 2005). Her honesty and insights took my breath away. We have lost an amazing writer with her death.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Excellent read. The political pieces on Barbara Bush and the Clinton/Gore relationship unraveling are top notch. Damn, Marjorie, you could write. AND THEN. Marjorie. You made me cry. The pieces about dying from cancer are devastating. But beautiful. I have been down this road with a friend. She also left children behind. I was blown away by the similarities in your thoughts and worries. The unfairness of it all. Ef you, cancer.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eric Kelderman

    Williams is the consummate profile writer who bring to life an entire panorama of details like the great Flemish renaissance painters. Her political portraits are brilliant and nuanced -- and best of all she doesn't take the conventional wisdom, so to speak, of the Washington press corps' for anything more than what it really is.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Richard Subber

    I wish I had known about Marjorie Williams’ work when she was an active staff writer at The Washington Post. She had a pungent, penetrating style, and she carefully offered reasoned judgment as well as what we can nostalgically think of today as “facts.” Her personal memoirs about her life and her cancer are wholly human, and they remain as a sustaining emotional roadmap for an engaged reader. Read more of my book reviews and poems here: www.richardsubber.com I wish I had known about Marjorie Williams’ work when she was an active staff writer at The Washington Post. She had a pungent, penetrating style, and she carefully offered reasoned judgment as well as what we can nostalgically think of today as “facts.” Her personal memoirs about her life and her cancer are wholly human, and they remain as a sustaining emotional roadmap for an engaged reader. Read more of my book reviews and poems here: www.richardsubber.com

  12. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Wow! Beautiful words still relevant today.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    So, so wonderful. The personal essays about the author’s cancer diagnosis were especially beautiful - but the political profiles and essays on feminism and motherhood were wonderful as well.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joan Lieberman

    She captures the essence of what it means to be a mother and wife with cancer.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    I can't recommend this book highly enough. It was published over ten years ago and includes columns written as early as 1988 but like all excellent writing it absolutely stands the test of time. I lived my first 33 years in the suburbs of the greatest city (Washington DC!) so some of this was nostalgia for me. I don't remember reading Marjorie Williams in the pages of the Washington Post (or other publications) but I wish I had. The profiles in the book are fascinating. Most notably I enjoyed re I can't recommend this book highly enough. It was published over ten years ago and includes columns written as early as 1988 but like all excellent writing it absolutely stands the test of time. I lived my first 33 years in the suburbs of the greatest city (Washington DC!) so some of this was nostalgia for me. I don't remember reading Marjorie Williams in the pages of the Washington Post (or other publications) but I wish I had. The profiles in the book are fascinating. Most notably I enjoyed reading about the Cafritzes (seems like everyone had worked for Cafritz at one time or another growing up). The other profiles were so spot-on (even twenty years later): Barbara Bush (and by association, her husband), Vernon Jordan, Tony Coelho (blast from the past - anyone remember him?), Jeb Bush, and "Scenes from a Marriage (Bill and Al)" was so enlightening. I cannot possibly reiterate all that Marjorie expressed but the entire book is worth a read. Her skewering of Hillary Clinton (Bill's "beard") and all the feminists who supported this man (do you remember how bad it was? poor Paula Jones? Monica Lewinsky?) is inspiring. (Marjorie's insights will make it very difficult to remain a Hillary supporter, even if you do just want to get a woman elected to the WH.) Her analysis of the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings was a history lesson that those who didn't live through it should review. She writes about so many things (the S&L crisis, the Keating 5, Jim Wright's ouster as House Speaker, Al Gore and the Buddhist temple, campaign finance reform, etc) that I had forgotten. She does an amazing job of reiterating why politics and ethics MATTER. The middle part of the book covers a lot of subjects but resonated with me repeatedly. Marjorie was a fan of Stephen King (me too!) and references one of my favorite books (Ladder of Years) when discussing "time-outs" for mothers. Finally, the last section of the book deals with Marjorie's battle with the cancer that would kill her at the age of 47. You will cry and you will rage that such a beautiful voice was quieted so soon.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    collection of writings of Williams a long time journalist commenting on politics, family and fate

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    The writing in this book is 5-star and literary. You can read more about the book in other places, that the author died of cancer and this book was published later, a sampling of her wise and elegant writings. I found it a little hard to get excited about this book when I started reading, and I don't know why. I skipped a story here and there, scanned some, and read some with relish. Soon I settled in and read. The book is divided into Profiles, Essays, and personal writings of the author's life The writing in this book is 5-star and literary. You can read more about the book in other places, that the author died of cancer and this book was published later, a sampling of her wise and elegant writings. I found it a little hard to get excited about this book when I started reading, and I don't know why. I skipped a story here and there, scanned some, and read some with relish. Soon I settled in and read. The book is divided into Profiles, Essays, and personal writings of the author's life and cancer. Once I reached essays and the personal section, I wanted to go back and read every word she wrote. The stories about famous people of DC are astonishing in details we never knew, and oh so humanizing. I was struck by how many intimate interviews, dinners, and gatherings Marjorie must have attended and by her intelligent observations. Her personal observations were no less beautiful and honest. The reader will learn tidbits about people like Barbara Bush that would never have been written about were it not for Marjorie. Unless the reader is part of the Washington DC scene or perhaps a journalist, he will learn about other characters that are virtually unknown outside DC. The book won a Penn/Martha Albrand Nonfiction Award. It's for intelligent readers, not for readers who relish dime-a-dozen romance novels and the like. Mature readers will enjoy it more than very young readers because it has a level of sophistication and history about it that the average young reader won't appreciate. However, young readers interested in literary works, the political scene, and journalism may enjoy it. I love books that send me to the dictionary and this one did. Marjorie's death is a great loss to all who read her columns and articles and to all who may discover her later through this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This compilation of published and unpublished articles was compiled posthumously by Williams' husband following the writer's failed struggle with liver cancer. Divided into three parts, the volume begins with a number of political profiles Williams wrote for the Washington Post during the George H. Bush and Clinton years. Though I found many of the details of these pieces fascinating (they certainly showcase Williams' eye for character and nuance), this section of the book doesn't really stand t This compilation of published and unpublished articles was compiled posthumously by Williams' husband following the writer's failed struggle with liver cancer. Divided into three parts, the volume begins with a number of political profiles Williams wrote for the Washington Post during the George H. Bush and Clinton years. Though I found many of the details of these pieces fascinating (they certainly showcase Williams' eye for character and nuance), this section of the book doesn't really stand the test of time as well as it might. In contrast, I found the shorter columns and think pieces on family life and/or feminism that make up the book's second part fascinating. In particular, Williams' musings on the uneven feminist response to the Anita Hill/Lewinsky scandal really highlights a lot of the partisan and personality politics that shaped responses at the time, and Williams herself did an excellent job distancing herself from this fray to offer critiques that would have taken other writers years to make. The power of the insights offered in this section make the book's final section on Williams' struggle with cancer all the more devastating. Here, she not only writes about the emotions and realities surrounding the disease with candor and wit, but also punctuates the unique blend of personal and political writing that characterizes the entire collection. Readers would be hard pressed to not agree with her husband's (admittedly biased) suggestion that Williams was a woman who had several smart books in her and far more insight to share with the world. This collection both pays her a beautiful tribute and stands as a sad testament to the writing that Williams was never able to do.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lormac

    This book has been on my "to read" list for a long, long time, so I was delighted when a book club friend passed it along to me. This is the kind of book you might buy and have sitting around your house for a year or so (or have installed on your ebook for a year or so). It is not a book to be consumed in one sitting. The book is divided into three sections - the first provides the reader with the political profiles for which Marjorie Williams was best known; the second section leads the reader i This book has been on my "to read" list for a long, long time, so I was delighted when a book club friend passed it along to me. This is the kind of book you might buy and have sitting around your house for a year or so (or have installed on your ebook for a year or so). It is not a book to be consumed in one sitting. The book is divided into three sections - the first provides the reader with the political profiles for which Marjorie Williams was best known; the second section leads the reader into Marjorie's personal life with various essays, magazine articles and snippets of blogs, etc. which highlight her as a mother, wife, daughter, friend, feminist, and person of well-thought-out opinions on certain topics; and the third section is a few of her final essays on the impact of her cancer diagnosis on her view of life. This reading journey is handled well - you come to respect Marjorie as a writer through the first section, come to admire and like her in the second section, and then mourn the loss of her in the third. But I found myself putting the book down for a few days and then a few weeks, here and there, because it is a fairly dense reading experience. And I must confess, I did skip a few of the profiles, and a couple of the essays when the topic was simply completely uninteresting to me. (But none of the last section which was understandably riveting.) So give this book a go. Start it when you have some timne and put it down when you want, and pick it up again on a slow afternoon to sample a little more. It is that kind of a book. Just expect to see it lying around for a while....

  20. 4 out of 5

    gwen g

    No words for how utterly impressed I am with Marjorie Williams' writing, her honesty and class in the face of the worst life could offer her -- an early death. The first third of the book is long profiles, fascinating and personal and rendered beautifully, so she had me hooked into her work as a journalist from the start. I was already eating out of her hand by the time she got to the shorter pieces about Bill Clinton and feminism in the second section; by the third section's personal essays, so No words for how utterly impressed I am with Marjorie Williams' writing, her honesty and class in the face of the worst life could offer her -- an early death. The first third of the book is long profiles, fascinating and personal and rendered beautifully, so she had me hooked into her work as a journalist from the start. I was already eating out of her hand by the time she got to the shorter pieces about Bill Clinton and feminism in the second section; by the third section's personal essays, some of which had never been published, I was a die-hard fan. Can't emphasize it enough: I LOVED these pieces and am so glad her husband collected them. Journalism and feminism and plain good writing were dealt a terrible blow when she died so young. A tiny sample, from an essay about the sniper killings in 2002 and after Williams' cancer diagnosis: "What we really labor to keep from our children is the same bitter knowledge that their elders avoid: not that people get killed by strangers, or that there are too many guns in our world, or that madness never sleeps, but that there is no logic at all to some of the worst blows that life metes out. Time and chance happen to all of us, darling boy, and even grown-ups can bear it only a little bit at a time."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Brody

    This is an amazing and wonderful book. It is also poignantly sad because the author, Marjorie Williamson, died recently from liver cancer. This book was put together posthumously by her husband, Tim Noah, who is a reporter for the online magazine Salon.com. The book is formatted as a collection of essays. Ms. Williamson spent many of her years in the D.C. area as a reporter and formed close and intimate relationships with many of the movers and shakers in politics. Many of the essays are about po This is an amazing and wonderful book. It is also poignantly sad because the author, Marjorie Williamson, died recently from liver cancer. This book was put together posthumously by her husband, Tim Noah, who is a reporter for the online magazine Salon.com. The book is formatted as a collection of essays. Ms. Williamson spent many of her years in the D.C. area as a reporter and formed close and intimate relationships with many of the movers and shakers in politics. Many of the essays are about political figures or political issues. One of my favorites is about the relationship between Al Gore and Bill Clinton. Another section of the book is structured as a memoir. Ms. Williamson finds out that she has liver cancer and knows that her days are numbered. She writes about her life as a wife, mother, reporter and woman coping with liver cancer. She writes beautifully. Her words have the force of thunder. They can be so brutally honest that you jump from your chair. She can also be gentle and lyrical so that the reader feels like they are inside a song without words rather than a book. Her writing is a marvel. I wish more people had read this book. Her writing left me enriched and changed, something only a fine piece of art has the power to do.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Becca Chopra

    Thanks to editor Timothy Noah, for compiling this collection of his deceased wife's writings - a legacy of getting to the heart of the matter, whether the topic is why feminists didn't flinch at Clinton's flagrant womanizing, to her own unflinching fight against liver cancer. The book has three sections: 1) Profiles of Washington Insiders, that could have been dry if written by another, but instead sparkle with insights into personality, behind-the-scenes machinations, and human drama; 2) Essays, i Thanks to editor Timothy Noah, for compiling this collection of his deceased wife's writings - a legacy of getting to the heart of the matter, whether the topic is why feminists didn't flinch at Clinton's flagrant womanizing, to her own unflinching fight against liver cancer. The book has three sections: 1) Profiles of Washington Insiders, that could have been dry if written by another, but instead sparkle with insights into personality, behind-the-scenes machinations, and human drama; 2) Essays, including one on another feminist fiasco -- makeup advertorials in Ms. Magazine; 3) Time and Chance, memoirs of dealing with a deadly diagnosis and how, as a mother of two young children, she made her final four years as meaningful and as normal as possible. Her final story, "The Halloween of My Dreams," describes how her almost-nine year old daughter dresses in the glitter of a teenage rock star, letting her see into the future that would never be for her as a mother. This volume is written brilliantly, and more importantly, cuts a searing flash of life-and-death insights into your mind and heart that you won't soon forget. Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries

  23. 4 out of 5

    B

    "Sadly Sabato and Garment are both persuasive in arguing that a majority of talented reporters would rather write about personalities and peccadilloes than face the difficulty of writing about government with sophistication and depth." pg. 178 This quote jumped out at me as Norman Dorsen maneuver. Professor Dorsen often says of Mr. X: "Mr. X said about Mr. Y The same could be said of Mr. X." This quote in the book could be said of Williams. That said . . . Marjorie Williams wrote some brilliant "Sadly Sabato and Garment are both persuasive in arguing that a majority of talented reporters would rather write about personalities and peccadilloes than face the difficulty of writing about government with sophistication and depth." pg. 178 This quote jumped out at me as Norman Dorsen maneuver. Professor Dorsen often says of Mr. X: "Mr. X said about Mr. Y The same could be said of Mr. X." This quote in the book could be said of Williams. That said . . . Marjorie Williams wrote some brilliant and fascinating articles, but they almost all lean toward describing a personality rather than a process or an outcome. She clearly had a strong point of view but she buries it a lot of times in a genteel Dowdism. The first section—the profiles of bigshots—is fascinating and delightfully mean. But it does seem a little awful to stab these people behind their backs in ways that could be done to virtually everyone. What do we learn from it? Williams' brief cancer memoir in the latter half of the book is powerful as are some of her descriptions about how she relates to her children and parents.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eleanore

    An excellent collection of political profiles, essays and insights by the late Marjorie Williams of the Washington Post and Vanity Fair, combining all the best elements of criticism, humor and human sympathy. Covering predominantly the years of the Reagan Presidency, Bush '41, and President Clinton, her works bring to life the environment and the actors of the significant political events of my adolescence. These profiles provide intriguing context for the late and oft-lamented era of the 90s, n An excellent collection of political profiles, essays and insights by the late Marjorie Williams of the Washington Post and Vanity Fair, combining all the best elements of criticism, humor and human sympathy. Covering predominantly the years of the Reagan Presidency, Bush '41, and President Clinton, her works bring to life the environment and the actors of the significant political events of my adolescence. These profiles provide intriguing context for the late and oft-lamented era of the 90s, not to mention an unexpected source of perspective on the recent era of Bush '43, the dawning era of the Obama administration and the thread of consistency in Washington society that runs throughout. In her writing she bears the torch of feminism with a clarity and steadiness that is both compelling and potent. And her final essays concerning her experience with liver cancer are as poignant an expression of the power of love and hope as they are of clear-sighted realism. An excellent testimony to and reflection of an admirable woman and writer.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I have to agree with the review on the back of the book that it is a great tragedy that this lovely woman and great writer died so early in her life and career. She could have written and done so much more! But I think her husband did a great service to her by publishing this anthology. I was interested most in the political character essays, but enjoyed the second part (random essays, book reviews, emails, etc.) more. I said I wasn't going to read the third part (about her life after her termin I have to agree with the review on the back of the book that it is a great tragedy that this lovely woman and great writer died so early in her life and career. She could have written and done so much more! But I think her husband did a great service to her by publishing this anthology. I was interested most in the political character essays, but enjoyed the second part (random essays, book reviews, emails, etc.) more. I said I wasn't going to read the third part (about her life after her terminal cancer diagnosis), but I did anyway... I thought it would be a disservice not to. It is as tragic, but still beautifully written, as I expected. I would have given it 'more stars,' but for me, it wasn't really a page-turner. On one hand, you can look at it as that I wasn't really interested in every single essay. ON the other hand, you can look at it as there is something in there for everyone.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Johanna

    This is an anthology of writings by Marjorie Williams who died of cancer in 2005 at the age of 47. She wrote for a number of publications including The Washington Post and Slate. The first section compiles her lengthy profiles of political figures. They were interesting to me because they detailed people I had heard of but did not know much about because they were major players just before I became politically aware (early 1990s). The second section includes shorter pieces on many topics. I espe This is an anthology of writings by Marjorie Williams who died of cancer in 2005 at the age of 47. She wrote for a number of publications including The Washington Post and Slate. The first section compiles her lengthy profiles of political figures. They were interesting to me because they detailed people I had heard of but did not know much about because they were major players just before I became politically aware (early 1990s). The second section includes shorter pieces on many topics. I especially liked the ones with a feminist angle. The third section is comprised of her writings about her own cancer. These were touching, and after getting to know her voice throughout the rest of the book, quite sad. While the longer pieces in the first part didn't always go quickly, I enjoyed this book a lot.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I agree, I agree! with all the good things that others have said here in full detail. I will just add that her essays drew me deeply into her experience of motherhood, and touched me deeply (especially "Entomophobia" and "The Halloween of My Dreams.") And "Hit by Lightning" is a profoundly moving discourse on illness, medicine, life and death. And I will add now-- years later, as i re-read it-- another pleasure besides the powerful emotional aspects that I previously noted is that afforded to his I agree, I agree! with all the good things that others have said here in full detail. I will just add that her essays drew me deeply into her experience of motherhood, and touched me deeply (especially "Entomophobia" and "The Halloween of My Dreams.") And "Hit by Lightning" is a profoundly moving discourse on illness, medicine, life and death. And I will add now-- years later, as i re-read it-- another pleasure besides the powerful emotional aspects that I previously noted is that afforded to history buffs, political junkies, and wouldbe timetravelers in reading her essays on events long past as they appeared to her then. In some instances, the persons involved are still active in the political landscape or in memory. Even if you don't entirely agree with her viewpoint, her conversation is intelligent, well stated, and interesting.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Some pretty great profiles of political figures (some I knew and some I didn't) in the first section - profiles; some great essays some meh essays in the second section - essays; the third section had me crying out loud (not something I think I have ever done while reading a book. The third section was essays all dealing with the time from when she was diagnosed with stage IV(b) liver cancer in 2001 to just before her death in 2005. Her frank way of dealing with everything, from insensitive doct Some pretty great profiles of political figures (some I knew and some I didn't) in the first section - profiles; some great essays some meh essays in the second section - essays; the third section had me crying out loud (not something I think I have ever done while reading a book. The third section was essays all dealing with the time from when she was diagnosed with stage IV(b) liver cancer in 2001 to just before her death in 2005. Her frank way of dealing with everything, from insensitive doctors and nurses to whether or not she can tell her children the truth about Santa Claus, to how lucky she knows her self to be by outliving her prognosis 6 times over, just really powerful writing. I regret not reading her when she was writing in the 90s and early part of the 2000s.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Marjorie Williams' premature death really left a hole in the universe of fabulous women columnists. This is a sampling of some her best stuff, lovingly edited by her husband, Timothy Noah of Slate. She's a great profile writer, an incisive columnist who can marry the world of family and the world of public policy without trying, and an unrelenting truth-teller. This book includes her account of her battle with liver cancer - she ultimately died of it in 2005 - and she writes with a candor that m Marjorie Williams' premature death really left a hole in the universe of fabulous women columnists. This is a sampling of some her best stuff, lovingly edited by her husband, Timothy Noah of Slate. She's a great profile writer, an incisive columnist who can marry the world of family and the world of public policy without trying, and an unrelenting truth-teller. This book includes her account of her battle with liver cancer - she ultimately died of it in 2005 - and she writes with a candor that makes you realize the gravity of losing her. I also loved her profile of her mother, the Alchemist, which I first read in the Washington Post magazine. God, I wish I could write like her.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I bought this book because I liked the title and the cover. I should have recognized Marjorie Williams's name, and once I began reading, I certainly recognized her writing. This book is heartbreakingly, challengingly, inspiringly real. I dogeared two dozen pages to which I will now return for closer inspection or the pleasure of rereading certain turns of phrase and passages. Gradydon Carter, editor at Vanity Fair is quoted on the book jacket, ". . .As a journa I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I bought this book because I liked the title and the cover. I should have recognized Marjorie Williams's name, and once I began reading, I certainly recognized her writing. This book is heartbreakingly, challengingly, inspiringly real. I dogeared two dozen pages to which I will now return for closer inspection or the pleasure of rereading certain turns of phrase and passages. Gradydon Carter, editor at Vanity Fair is quoted on the book jacket, ". . .As a journalist, and as a lunch companion, she had few peers and no betters." I am glad to know her journalistic work and very much regret regret having missed the chance to lunch.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.