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This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — plus plenty of valet parking! — in America’s Gilded Capital
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This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — plus plenty of valet parking! — in America’s Gilded Capital

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  3,781 ratings  ·  706 reviews
'The great thing about Washington is no matter how many elections you lose, how many times you're indicted, how many scandals you've been tainted by, well, the great thing is you can always eat lunch in that town again. What keeps the permanent government spinning on its carousel is the freedom of shamelessness, and that mother's milk of politics, cash. In Mark Leibovich’s ...more
Hardcover, 386 pages
Published July 16th 2013 by Blue Rider Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Miles
From the start, I suspected this book would amount to nothing beyond a mildly amusing piece of muckraking, but I picked it up hoping for something more. And while Leibovich does offer some interesting insights about the inner workings of Washington D.C., his book never challenged my initial impressions. Fortunately, Leibovich is unpretentious enough to know what kind of writer he is, and to be upfront in his own complicity with business as usual in This Town. It makes the book feel honest, even ...more
Erik Simon
This book is stupid, and I'm not a dick for thinking so.

It's a send up of D.C., the incestuous money-making factory where lawmakers become lobbyists become pundits and the circle goes on and on. And it's certainly a worthy, if obvious, subject, but Leibovich does nothing worthwhile with it. For instance . . .

So he makes crap of former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (or tries to): Dick was a big, pro-union Democrat who, upon retirement, took some fat lobbying jobs with various corporations
...more
Jim Marshall
If your cynicism concerning American politics has grown flaccid from lack of exercise, this lacerating book will tone you right up. Mark Leibovich, a reporter for the New York Times, represents Washington as a non-stop petting party of self-promotion, double-dealing, shameless ass-licking, and stomach-wrenching pieties. The three-sectioned revolving door that connects elective offices to the lobbying leviathan to the airport world of 24-hour cable news never stops spinning, and the players never ...more
Lobstergirl

In a nearly 400 page ramble, Leibovich lets roll anecdote after anecdote of the "grimy ecosystem" that is Washington's political culture. It's gross. It's pathetic. It's nauseating. Most of the people in the book you would not want to pull from burning car wrecks because their absence from political or media life would be an improvement - well, theoretically. In reality they would instantly be replaced by some equally disgusting, equally ass-licking schmuck.

The two people who come off looking be
...more
Matt Bennett
I like Leibovich's newspaper writing a lot-he's smart, insightful, and often hilarious. And he is, by all accounts, a great guy. But I found reading This Town like eating cotton candy - it tastes good for a second, (because he's smart, insightful, and funny) but then you feel kind of sick to your stomach.

My problem wasn't just the "meta" thing that everyone points out. Yes, yes, Leibovich is part of the very "problem" he purports to unearth. He appears on cable, goes to parties with shallow peop
...more
Emily
I returned from vacation to discover the Washington Post -- a major character in a book I finished, _This Town_ -- was sold for $250 million in cash to Jeff Bezos.

_This Town_ is mostly about the WaPo's main competitor, Politico, and the destruction it has wreaked on the cloistered world of Washington DC. But not just Politico -- the entire class of politicians using public service as a springboard to lobbying millions and how a trickle has become a flood. No longer do people get elected to publ
...more
Callie
Who cares? Why is this book being touted by all the NPR folks? Why do I trust you, NPR?? I guess some people at your illustrious organization must be great friends of Mark Leibovich and you are all just doing him a favor. You would have done better to be honest with him and tell him, "sorry, Mark, your book sucks rocks." Ugh. I thought I was a bit of a political junkie, but I must not be because as I read through the chapters of this, I kept yawning and thinking 'what is the point?'

This book ta
...more
Joseph
What an insipid piece of drivel. Washington covered by a glorified gossip columnist whose ego approximates those he writes about. There is no genuine outrage or even wicked humor. Junior high intrigue with the equivalent of fart jokes. Instead of a Mencken-like dressing down of the hypocrites, bloviators and self-interested elite, the author focuses on the dead (Tim Russert and Richard Holbrooke), socialites, congressional media flacks and online journalists. The equivalent analogy for describin ...more
Tim G
A highbrow beach read--witty, well written and shallow. None of the insights will surprise, though the tales will amuse, or disgust, depending on one's view of how vampiric Washington is and how much you think that matters.

Most of the book's themes aren't original. To wit: DC is disconnected from the rest of the country, lobbyists wield too much power and too many pols migrate to "Gucci Gulch" after their terms are done. About the only new idea is that the 'net and mobile technology have added
...more
Heather
As John Oliver said, "It's funny, it's interesting, and it's demoralizing. I mean, people generally have a low opinion of Washington and this book seems to point out that that low opinion might be too high... There's a black heart at the center of this book. I loved it as much as you can love something that hurts your heart." He was laughing when he said most of it, but yeah, totally.

The heart of the book is how many, many people never leave Washington D.C. once there. Politicians become lobbyi
...more
Louisa Smith
I've worked as an attorney for the US Dept of Labor and lived in DC since 1998. So I have some experience with "This Town". There are a few things that I like about the book. I think it aptly describes the reality that people take politics very, very seriously, and yet, they can be entirely cordial with each other personally. I actually live on Capitol Hill (some folks don't know it is a neighborhood, not just a building) and I was shocked when I first moved here that senior level Republicans an ...more
Pavol
What could have been a fun, acerbic and deeply enraging long-read was allowed to metastasize into a preening, self-aware (the author was not embedded, he was in his own habitat) yet deeply conceited mess of a journalistic 'expose'. When reading, you oscillate between frustration over this ridiculous cast of characters, morbid fascination over their inflated sense of self-worth, and anger that you haven't thrown this pop-corn of the mind away at some point. I am still slightly mad at myself for h ...more
Denise
A name-dropping gossipfest about the political-media-lobbyist-corporate Washington revolving door (as somebody remarks, "If we were any more incestuous, our children would be born with extra fingers.") As portrayed here, all the players are concerned exclusively with promoting their own brand, universally regard the voters as morons, and have no interest in policy beyond how it plays in Politico. I imagine this is accurate, but perhaps it could have been made interesting.
Laura Leaney
Feb 01, 2014 Laura Leaney rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura by: The Sound and the Furry Book Club
I didn't exactly hate this book, but I would've never finished it without the pressure of my book club behind it. Mark Leibovich is a good writer, and parts of this unsurprising "exposé" made me snicker. The humor is mostly of the cruel kind, like telling us that Harry Reid has "all the magnetism of a dried snail" - which I admit made me laugh - mostly because of the descriptive accuracy. Leibovich is a genius at caricature, reminding me very much of Jon Stewart's daily roast of political idiots ...more
Bob Pearson
Leibovich, a talented reporter, covers the behavior of the power establishment in Washington DC from just before Barak Obama's election in 2008 to his second inaugural. Witty, gossipy, insightful, rarely complimentary, his account might appeal to a Vanity Fair kind of audience, more interested in the interplay of people and events than in the import of the issues. I suspect that if you already know a lot about how Washington operates, the book is appealing because of the personalities. If you ar ...more
Pam
A snarky, funny, and sobering read about the revolving "media industrial complex" that is pervasive in DC. Looking at the three major occupations in the power triangle of politics, media, and lobbyists, Leibovich shows how people never leave Washington but rather migrate from one to another to make BIG money and gain power. Oh and there is no need to be successful at any of the jobs in order to cash in either. The book is full of stories of someone causing a huge scandal and then ending up on hi ...more
Mal Warwick
Washington, DC, served up on the skewer of satire

Here is Washington, DC, laid bare by the discerning eye and poison pen of The New York Times Magazine’s chief national correspondent there. If you think most of what takes place in the nation’s capital has little or nothing to do with anything outside the District of Columbia, well, it turns out you’re right.

“Getting rich has become the great bipartisan ideal,” writes Mark Leibovich. “’No Democrats and Republicans in Washington anymore, only milli
...more
Michael Beaton
I heard/watched a couple of author interviews re this book. Being suspicious of its value I picked it up from the library.
I read the first 3 chapters or so, about 100 pages. Having done so I am done. What a sad book.
I know there is a knowing cynicism about "This Town" that just rolls with all the shallow, unprincipled dealings of those powerful people who have become our ostensible leaders.
Far from being interesting this book confirmed to me the underlying nature of what it is that is broken
...more
Ben
It's entertaining, but a bit sprawling and uneven. Anything touching on Harry Reid is great and the chapter on Kurt Bardella, the Darrell Issa spokesperson, is a good example of the minimal long-term consequences that most bad behavior here actually entails.

What I wonder about is how much of the book's central arguments really are unique to Washington, or are they just more public because the social climbers and status-obsessed are purportedly public servants? It strikes me that the general ele
...more
Mac
I liked This Town because it's full of snarky comments, insider stories, dishing on the famous and wanna-be famous; and oh yes, there are also a few insights into Washington and how it works (or doesn't). Everyone--except Ben Bradlee and some of Leibovich's NY Times colleagues--gets ripped for their vain, insecure, solipsistic view of the world...their shallow (or nonexistent) values...their conflicts of interest...their ladder climbing...and their passing through the revolving doors of politics ...more
William
There's a term called the "Washington read," which is recited in this book, about the habit of DC power players and would-bes to skim the indices of new books for their name, to read about themselves, before putting it back on the bookshelf and walking off. Consequently, Mark Leibovich's mostly catty and definitely fun book about the media figures, lobbyists, and politicians who have gained admittance to Washington's elite social scene, has no index. No problem, it's a quick read, and it include ...more
Michelle
Politics as usual, or as they've been in the last few decades. Nothing surprising here. Sell-outs, etc. Interesting look into DC (what I consider my "other" hometown) and how it's evolved from a place corporations ignore to one they court. It is frustrating to confirm so strongly that politics is exactly that - politics. It's not "public service" or "trying to make a difference" or any of it. Will it ever change? The answer is no. Though it left me wondering if my company should employ a lobbyis ...more
Jared
The book told the same story over and over. Although the author tried to be funny, he did not succeed in my opinion. To be fair, there are some decent anecdotes, but rather than read 350+ pages of repetitive stories driving home the same point, you can probably find them online somewhere. In addition, this book, which is billed as a takedown of Washington did not deliver the goods. Did you really need to read this book to find out that Terry McAuliffe likes to raise money or that politicians can ...more
Seth Reeves
"This Town" made me sad. I enjoyed reading it but towards the end, as all the incestuous relationships between lobbyists, media celebrities, politicians and random offensively rich people pile up and up to create a mountain of human filth, and you realize THESE are the people who really run the country, I just wanted it to be over.

The saddest part for me is that I really can't see this going any other way. It's like reading a science fiction novel about people killing homeless people to feed to
...more
Tim
I highly recommend Mark Leibovich's This Town to anyone who is looking for a window into the sordid little world of Washington, D.C. Leibovich exposes the incestuous relationships that exist between politicians and the journalists that are supposed to hold these officials accountable. He also spends considerable time shedding some light on the lobbying industry, which has devolved into a retirement community for "formers" looking to "monetize their government service."

You need not worry about an
...more
Ernie Lavagetto
Funny,Witty and Inside

This book is not about politics but the behavioral psychology of power seeking people. It also demonstrates the power of humor to add balance in a seemingly off kilter world. Of course these particular behaviors are not limited to just Washington as anyone who has worked in any organization with more than two people in it can attest. That said there are few place where mutual grooming and self preening are so publicly displayed as in Washington (except for possibly the monk
...more
Jack
I'm a cynical bastard about politics and politicians. I like some more than others, but I'm rarely surprised when "my" guys get stupid. And just when one side is having a grand time in making fun of the other side for stupidity, THAT'S when it all comes back around. Beyond that, I'm also cynical about their intelligence: most politicos are quite savvy and smart, and they use their skills and intellect for a lot more personal enrichment than we often care to recognize. And beyond even that, despi ...more
Kris
If you weren't a political cynic before reading this book, you will be one after finishing. Leibovich has a humorous, casual style that is entertaining with many laugh out loud descriptions. But, when you stop to think about the scene he describes in Washington, we should be crying instead of laughing. The collection of egotistical, self-absorbed people that are part of the “This Town” is sickening. Leibovich does a good job pointing out how completely intertwined the media, lobbyists, and polit ...more
Adrian Carpio
I love these "behind-the-curtain" books. This is the first book that I have read about the DC culture. It's a bit disconcerting to see how deep the love affair between the politicians and the "fourth estate" (the DC media) really is. How can we trust the media to give us the truth? Alas, the "truth." Really, what does that mean anymore.

Leibovich describes how sycophantic "journalists" drive the political "narrative" which many times is just a repetition of unfounded rumors and talking points su
...more
Kristina

This Town by Mark Leibovich is an entertaining, snarky, gossipy political book. It’s also a depressing—if not surprising—exposè of the coziness between elected officials, money, and the journalists who are supposed to bring transparency to Washington, but behave mostly like groupies at a rock concert. While I wouldn’t say this book is for political junkies only, you have to be fairly tuned into politics and the players. If you don’t know who David Axelrod or Christopher Dodd are and don’t care,
...more
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“God could not be reached for comment. But let us at least agree that He is quite obviously attuned to the doings of politics and media. That is why so many would-be leaders say they are being “called upon” to run for president, and why eulogists lean so heavily on the trope that God runs an HR department that recruits people like Sunday hosts and yachtsmen into heaven.” 1 likes
“At the brunch, I told her I had been in Alaska a few months earlier. And she opened her mouth wide in a look of genuine surprise, as if no one had ever gone to Alaska before. “Why didn’t you look me up?” she said, again sounding sincere. I made a joke about not wanting to get shot. She made me promise to look her up in Wasilla next time. (How does one “look up” Sarah Palin in Alaska, anyway? Is she listed? Can we become texting buddies?)” 0 likes
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