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

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  5,656 Ratings  ·  856 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 Penguin USA (first published January 1st 2013)
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Miles
Jul 18, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jim Marshall
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Matt Bennett
Sep 02, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Lobstergirl
Jul 17, 2014 rated it liked it

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
Joseph
Jul 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Heather
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Emily
Aug 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, non-fiction
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
Aug 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Louisa Smith
Nov 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Tim G
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Pavol Hardos
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Bob Pearson
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Patricia
Jun 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
Bleh. I have been meaning to read this book for a couple of years. Finally got around to listening to it on audio book. Even if you are interested in politics, as I am, this was so boring. It was like a laundry list of DC names and who knows who, but none of the anecdotes were particularly interesting. And I was annoyed by how often the author wrote "this town" in reference to DC, like he was trying to create a tag line. I couldn't finish it, even on audio.
Denise
Jan 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
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.
Mal Warwick
Aug 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Ben
Sep 08, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Seth Reeves
Oct 07, 2014 rated it liked it
"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
Laura Leaney
Jan 17, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Mac
Aug 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Michael Beaton
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Anita
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction-read
If you follow the politcal process at all this book will confirm your worst fears while making you laugh outloud. If you are interested in our national government you will love this book. Leibovich lets you in on all the inside jokes and behind the scenes manueverings of the 500 in Washington that run the country. The front men may change (Clinton to Bush to Obama), but all the power brokers remain the same. Senators becom lobbyists become cabinet officials become media consultants become talk s ...more
Pam
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
William
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 03, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Aug 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Rachel
Aug 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Good gossip, revealing the neuroses driving the politician and media types (is there a difference, at this point?) in D.C.

While I found the ego and greed disgusting, the author only had a few rare moments of annoyance. I would have appreciated a bit more indignation and fewer sympathetic tidbits (Hillary cried once when her friend died, canyoubelieveit?).

A fun read, but the author's just a tad too cozy in the cocktail circuit for my taste.
elizabeth
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Hahahahahahaha!

Also: *cries*

Is this book deep? Nope!

Does it need to be? Nope!

It's just the story of the happenings in D.C., despite what the politicians say on the talk shows.

Is it horrifying and amusing at the same time? Yep!

So, laugh and then cry. It's about all you can do while reading this book.
KatieMc
Jan 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Who knew Harry Reid does yoga? This book has some fun facts and funny antidotes and I can't hate it. My interest in politics has ebbed and flowed though my life, and 8-10 years ago I would have been all over this. Right now, meh.
Martin
Oct 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Review by Martin Boer
4 out of 5 Stars

“This Town: two parties and a funeral--plus, plenty of valet parking!--in America's gilded capital” by Mark Leibovich is an excellent, and often quite hilarious, takedown of the elite group of people – “The Club” as he calls them – that rule Washington DC.

This self-obsessed group of politicians, lobbyists, journalists, lawyers, Georgetown hostesses and their legions of enablers are primarily obsessed with who’s up and who’s down, where they stand in relation
...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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