Guus Bosman

software engineering director

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Arlington County Virginia -- a modern history

This book gives an excellent overview of the recent history of Arlington County, and the long chapter with "controversies" is especially interesting.

The author, Mr. Pratt, is a long-time activist in County politic. He was personally involved in many events described in the book, sometimes in his professional function as a lawyer, and in the 1970's he tried to get elected to the County Board twice.

Mr. Pratt lives in South Arlington, and his political views tend to lean more Republican than Democrat. As he explains in the book, local politics have been dominated by Democrats for decades and it was interesting to read his contrarian point of view. The book is a very objective one though, and both sides of the stories are told.

I didn't realize the extend of the differences between North and South Arlington. For example, we live close to I-66 and I knew that there had been a major "battle" in the 1960's against the creation of that highway. Mr. Pratt explained that in North Arlington the highway was very unpopular (as I knew) -- but I didn't realize that the highway would actually alleviate the traffic problems lower in the County.

On a longer timescale, it was interesting to learn more about the history of Arlington. The County really transformed from a rural, conservative backwater to the liberal, urban "village" it is now. The book describes the racism that was rampant in the early years of the county, and the political "massive resistance" fight against school integration. It's hard to believe that such policies were advocated only so short ago.

The book is from 1997 and certain developments, such as the cleanup and development of the Potomac Yard obviously are not included. Perhaps it's time for a follow-up book.

Sherman W. Pratt

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