Threading through the history of the United States is a long line of reviled newcomers. In the 1850s, Irish and German Catholics were vilified by the Know Nothing movement. In the 1890s, Italians were subjected to frequent lynchings. Jews of the 1930s were excoriated by Father Charles Coughlin, Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Ku Klux Klan. In the years following September 11, America’s 2.6 million Muslims have often found themselves facing similar kinds of hostility.
There are a million stories in the naked city, but there appears to be only one story in Washington, D.C. Have you ever read a book set in the capital that was not related to government? Whereas any romantic entanglement, murderous scheme, or cloying period piece may be set in New York City, a plot set in Washington is by and large one of official intrigue, albeit involving a pretty girl. When was the last time you read a romance set in the cafes of Dupont Circle, with no conspiracy in the background? Washington exists as a literary setting solely to establish a stock scene: politics.