Library of Alexandria
Here we go again—Confidential. We turned New York inside out; but we both live there. We turned Chicago upside down; but we were both raised there. We descended on Washington not quite like Stanley invaded Africa, because in our combined 75 years of newspaper work we had been in the capital hundreds of times. It intrigued us because we never could understand it. So we decided brashly to do a Lait-Mortimer operation on it from scratch. Our principal discovery was that nobody understands Washington—the city, not the nation’s nerve-center. By the time we went through it—its avenues, its alleys, its cat-houses, its dumps, its mansions, its hotels, its police stations, its jails, its courts, its clubs, its closets, and its catacombs, we knew more about it than anyone who lives in it, and finished the job which stymied Lincoln Steffens 40 years ago; for that classic muckraker who turned up the shame of the cities recoiled in bafflement when he attempted to “do” Washington. It was our toughest task of digging, but we turned up plenty. We think we have X-rayed the dizziest—and this will amaze you, as it did us, the dirtiest—community in America. We are not reformers. We are reporters. As such we will take you with us through a metropolitan area of 1,500,000, living in what should be a utopia, but which is a cesspool of drunkenness, debauchery, whoring, homosexuality, municipal corruption and public apathy, protected crime under criminal protection, hoodlumism, racketeering, pandering and plundering, among anomalous situations found nowhere else on earth. Washington is a made-to-order architectural paradise with the political status of an Indian reservation, inhabited by 800,000 economic parasites; no industries but one, government, and the tradesmen and servants and loafers and scum that feed on the highest average per capita income in the world, where exist the soundest security, the mightiest power, and the most superlative rates of crime, vice and juvenile delinquency anywhere. And this in a seat of intelligence, the cross-section of the whole United States, where women far outnumber men.