BOOKS: CAPITAL CONNECTIONS

WASHINGTON PROVIDES THE BEGUILING SETTING FOR A WINNING NOVEL ABOUT POWER AND POLITICS

"In Washington facts sometimes tend to mislead. All the facts sometimes tend to mislead absolutely." This play on Lord Acton's pontification about the corrupting effects of power appeared 24 years ago in Ward Just's The Congressman Who Loved Flaubert. Since then, Just has published more than a dozen works of political fiction that have done what journalism rarely accomplishes: dramatize the work of government through complex characters whose heavy responsibilities defy easy moralizing.

One of Just's beguiling personalities has always been the nation's capital. The mystique lives on in Echo House (Houghton Mifflin; 328 pages; $25), a novel that spans nearly...

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