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THE MAN TO SEE by Evan Thomas

Simon & Schuster

587 pages; $27.50

Influential Washington attorneys are like political parties, one of those essential institutions of government that the Constitution doesn't mention. In a town where access is power, they have their hands on all the best doorknobs. They also keep the workings of justice supple enough to accommodate Washington's many influence peddlers, fixers and shifty politicians, who can go about their business secure in the knowledge that in a pinch, they can always phone their lawyers.

Those who could afford it used to phone Edward Bennett Williams, who until his...

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