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They say that nobody’s really from Washington, D.C. and everyone’s there for a reason. It’s been called the murder capital and the capital of espionage. It’s one of the most famous cities Justine Shapiroin the world, but its local culture is relatively unknown.

Justine Shapiro goes beyond the myths and mystic to get at the real DC and the real Washingtonians, from the corridors of power, to the bluegrass bars, to the hot international restaurants, to the indigenous music and good-time vibe of the new U Street.

As a special guest of Orrin Hatch, Republican senator from Utah, she walks right into the US Capitol building and meets the Senate Majority Leader in his office.

Justine soon discovers that the rest of this city of 600,000 is bursting with colour: she visits the Smithsonian’s American History Museum, where famous objects from popular culture such as the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz take up permanent residence. Further adventures take her to U Street, where she joins in a ‘step’ dance rehearsal – a true test of whether she’s got rhythm.

Adventures outside DC take her to civil war country in Virginia, to a realistic civil war re-enactment at Cedar Creek. She also learns about the first settlers and the founding of the nation at Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown. She even visits Mount Vernon, home to the founder of Washington DC, George Washington himself.

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