"This fascinating study of Shepherd—a kind of proto-Robert Moses—belongs on any bookshelf devoted to the evolution of the American cityscape. The strength of Richardson's research and writing is in the care and balance he brings to the tale. Washington, D.C., comes alive here, and so does Shepherd: sometimes hero and sometimes villain, he is always compelling and utterly human." —Scott W. Berg, author of Grand Avenues: The Story of Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the French Visionary Who Designed Washington, D.C.
"The Civil War left Washington a tattered, treeless mess. Congressmen even discussed moving the nation's capital, which would have spelled disaster for local businessmen. Just a decade later, a "New Washington" with wide avenues and handsome new neighborhoods silenced such talk. Chief among the architects of the transformation was native son Alexander "Boss" Shepherd, a bold visionary and/or a corrupt political hack. With skill, nuance, and the mining of many primary sources, John Richardson brings Shepherd, the "New Washington," and a heady era to life." — Kathryn Allamong Jacob, Curator of Manuscripts, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University and author of "King of the Lobby:" The Life and Times of Sam Ward; Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, DC.; Capital Elites: High Society in Washington, D.C. After the Civil War.
"John Richardson's lucid biography of the central figure in Washington's municipal history before the 1970s will benefit Washingtonians but also historians of all American cities. Through painstaking research, Richardson reveals common themes in the two seemingly disconnected segments of Shepherd's storied career: as the visionary but imperious public works official who made Washington a modern city in the 1870s, and then as the imperialistic operator of American-owned mines in Díaz-era Mexico." — Alan Lessoff, author of The Nation and Its City: Politics, "Corruption," and Progress in Washington, D.C, 1861-1902