A Song to My City

Washington, DC

Carol Lancaster
WithDouglas Farrar

"Despite the drawbacks of living in a city with the worst schools in the country and with far too much hot air, Ms. Lancaster . . . shows a passion for the place."
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This deeply felt memoir is a love letter to Washington, DC. Carol Lancaster, a third-generation Washingtonian who knew the city like few others, takes readers on a tour of the nation’s capital from its swamp-infested beginnings to the present day, with an insider’s view of the gritty politics, environment, society, culture, and larger-than-life heroes that characterize her beloved hometown. The former dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, a friend of presidents and dignitaries all over the globe, Lancaster colorfully describes the city’s three near-death experiences and the many triumphs and tribulations that emerged as the city took shape. Along the way she provides brief biographies of three of the most influential figures in the city’s history: urban designer Pierre Charles L’Enfant, whose vision for the city was realized only after his death; civic leader “Boss” Shepherd, whose strong-arm tactics cleaned up the downtown area and helped create the walking mall we know today; and controversial mayor Marion Barry, whose rise and fall and resurrection underscored the contemporary challenges of home rule.

Teeming with informative anecdotes and two dozen illustrations of landmarks and key characters, Lancaster’s memoir is a personal and passionate paean to the most powerful city in the world—from one of its most illustrious native daughters.

Table of Contents

Douglas Farrar
1. Why Washington, DC?
2. The History and Politics
3. Natural Washington
4. Cityscape
5. Three People Who Made the City
6. Washingtonians
7. Toward the City's Future


"Despite the drawbacks of living in a city with the worst schools in the country and with far too much hot air, Ms. Lancaster . . . shows a passion for the place."—RALPH

"Carol Lancaster was a pioneer who had an immense impact as a leader in government and at Georgetown University. This beautiful story of the city she loved is poignant, smart, lyrical and funny — just like Carol herself. It is a must read for anyone who wants to learn about Washington, D.C. and one of its great personalities."—Madeleine K. Albright, Michael and Virginia Mortara Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, Georgetown University; former U.S. Secretary of State, 1997-2001

"Carol Lancaster has left us with a wonderful book. It is both grand history and the reflections of a forth generation Washingtonian that takes us from village to town to city and capital. Written in plain language and elegant simplicity it is a must read for all who want to learn about the multi ethnic and multicultural origins of Washington, the District of Columbia and of the struggles of its people for democratic rights."—Maurice Jackson, Georgetown University


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About the Author

Carol Lancaster was the dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University from 2010 until her death in 2014. A member of the US Department of State's policy planning staff and then deputy assistant secretary of state for Africa, she came to SFS in 1981 as a research professor; she later became director of the Africa Studies program. From 1993 to 1996, Carol took a leave of absence from her academic work to serve as deputy administrator of the US Agency for International Development. She was the author of several books including Foreign Aid: Diplomacy, Development, Domestic Politics.

Douglas Farrar, Carol Lancaster’s son, is a policy and communications professional living and working in Washington, DC. A fourth-generation Washingtonian, he completed his mother’s book after her death.

240 pp., 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN: 978-1-62616-383-6
Dec 2016

240 pp., 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN: 978-1-62616-672-1
Dec 2016

240 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-62616-384-3
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