Brief interview with Jim Toole, owner of Capitol Hill Books

Capitol Hill Books _ stairs to 2nd floor“I was in the Navy 30 years, 26 days and 2 hours. Retired as a Rear Admiral. I was an American history major at UCLA. Since I knew I was going into the Navy I thought I ought to know a lot about the country. Then during night-watch I read up on what we were trying to do internationally and how it was influenced by history. I eventually received a Master’s in International Relations from American University. I have been reading non-fiction for 60 years. They don’t teach that sh*t any more. Instead they teach American Studies. Kids nowadays know nothing about their history; it is blended with sociology and American Studies.

I am more like James Guild than Twain. I’m the crotchety old geezer inundated with books. People say I should be nicer to people but the people are just trying to get books from me on the cheap. As you know, I have notes posted throughout the shop.

Rule number 1: The customer is not always right, I am.

I tell these kids who come in my shop saying, ‘Like this,’ and ‘Like that,’ ‘Life is not a simile.’ I give away copies of the thesaurus for free.”

— Jim Toole, owner of Capitol Hill Books since 1994. Recognized as the Best Used Bookstore by Washington City Paper nearly every year.

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  1. #1 by Tex Gomez on May 23, 2013 - 2:59 pm

    Jim Toole is a good man with a good mind and a good heart. His kind are few and far between with a sharp eye and great taste for rare antiquarian books of all kinds, especially American and Military History. They don’t make ’em like Jim any more. Thankfully he is among us here in the Nation’s Capital.

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