|As a foreign correspondent and writer for the Washington Post, Ward Just knows Washington. And what he knows he's put into his latest political novel, Echo House, the story of three generations of a powerful Washington family. The book's title refers to the Behl family mansion, a historic landmark that has belonged to the Behls since the Wilson administration. Constance Behl, matriarch of the family, buys the house when it seems her husband, Senator Adolph Behl, is a sure bet for the vice presidential slot on his party's ticket. The political jockeying that surrounds this nomination and Senator Behl's mortifying disappointment are dealt with in the first 20 pages, leaving the rest of the book to chronicle the fortunes of the senator's son, Axel, and grandson, Alec. |
Axel grows up to be a wartime hero and, later, an eminent leader of the Democratic Party. He marries Sylvia, a poet, and has a son, Alec, who grows up to be a powerful beltway lawyer. Outside this family circle there is a host of minor characters--politicians and politician's wives, reporters, lawyers, generals and civil servants. But throughout Echo House the main character is politics itself, as men and women wheel and deal, coax and bribe and threaten their way into power. By the end, it is evident that individuals come and go, but the system is forever.