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Homo Politicus: The Strange and Scary Tribes that Run Our Government Paperback – July 29, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“The (Bush) Administration’s least favorite journalist. And it’s not hard to see why.”
—The American Prospect
“Taking trash journalism to new heights.”
—Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
“Many of us do believe Dana is rabid…there is probably nothing human, at least, that could balance Dana. I have suggested a close examination of various reptiles, and it may be that we need to go to the Galapagos Islands to find something appropriate.”
—Tom Edsall, former Washington Post colleague
“The most anti-Bush reporter currently assigned to the White House by a major news organization.”
“Washington PR folks, who would normally auction off their right arm to get the Washington Post to cover their boss’ press conference, know by now that having Dana Milbank show up is probably more of a curse than a blessing.”
“A wonder at the anthropology of this town and understanding the way the sociology of Washington works today.”
—Chris Matthews, host of Hardball
Wonkette poll—Dana Milbank is…
…emblematic of the deterioration of the American media. 12.1%
…the savior of American journalism. 13.5%
…a publicity whore. 74.4%
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Every politician knows at least one thing: "I was elected by a majority." (Some know more than one thing.) One fact that never goes away is their "majority" vindication, proof enough of their superiority to all. Their ultimate answer to every argument is, "I was elected, you weren't."
In Washington, as in London, Ottawa, Berlin and any place where democracy has taken root, politics is the chaos of hundreds of self-righteous steroid-enhanced egos. Sorry folks, it's a fact. Normally, reporters cover only the results of such mayhem; this book is a rare first-hand insight into the messy process. Milbank is a gem, exposing the folly of egos without restraint or common sense. (Trust me. I've been there. He might have been at least mildly amused, if not somewhat delighted, in some examples of what I wrote, said or did. At least, I hope so.)
The first advice in covering politics is, "Don't foul your own nest." In other words, don't write about follies that embarass our esteemed elected representatives of the people. Write about results. Politicians thrive on stories about bills passed (or blocked), provided such stories have some of their wise or witty "cleaned up" quotes. The bulk of "political reporting" is duly sanitized to explain results, instead of the uncleaned mess. Think of potty-training or 'TidyBowl' at work, and you get the idea.
It's Prince Otto von Bismarck's "sausage" example; people don't want to know the greasy details of making sausage (or laws), they want to know only if it tastes good and is safe (or if the law won't hurt them too much).Read more ›
I knew before I bought it that this was more of a political humor than a political science book. That's regrettable because Homo's anthropological conceit is worth a closer look.
What you get here, instead, is an extended series of personality sketches and vignettes describing all the flaps, gaffs, spats, scandals and outrages our "leaders" in Washington have subjected us to over the last eight years, give or take. Milbank attempts to group these into an absurdist pseudo-academic study of Beltway culture, but there's no real insight here, no attempt to see the forest through the trees. The chapters breeze by, and I got some yuks, but by the end, I wasn't satisfied.
And most, if not all, the stories and personalities are well known, or at least have been written about elsewhere. The few that haven't aren't interesting. Does anyone really care what pubs Democrats frequent and what restaurants Republicans dine at?
It feels like a rush job for Milbank. (My fingers keep wanting to type "Milkbank" for some reason.) Had he taken more time for research, he might have come up with something more memorable. At the very least, he would have been able to devote a section to Larry Craig.
Finally, is that Dick Cheney on the cover?
Such a parody might have been hilarious in 1928. It might have been funny still in 1958. But in 2008, it really does not work. Not in my opinion, at least. If twenty-first century readers miss the parody of Victorian style, as I fear most will, Milbank's comparisons of Washington, D.C. politics and beltway society to non-Western cultures and aboriginal societies are apt to come off as culturally insensitive - to say the least.
What's more, the affectation produces a stilted style that greatly detracts from the book's readability.
That Milbank's sharp wit nonetheless manages to redeem the book, is testimony to what a good writer he is.
He ably covers the scandals of the last few years, slinging mud at the Democrats with as much glee as he does at the Republicans. In fact, I'd advise against wearing white when you read this book. You might get splattered!.
Eric Alan Isaacson
Applying ancient and modern tribal behavior to the the men and women who serve in Washington and those attached to them is one of the aspects that make "Homo Politicus" so enjoyable. Milbank's flair as a writer is to tweak and he does so with aplomb. While generally more critical of the GOP, not surprisingly, the author reminds the reader that both sides can play the holier than thou game. If you follow politics, Milbank has an array of devils from which to choose in "Potomac Land". He features not only the well-known rogues in Congress but adds flavor when he cites certain bars and restaurants that cater only to Republicans or only to Democrats. The fact that the Bush twins could have so much influence on the night life in D.C. is remarkable...and funny. The chapter about the after hours party life is also as comical as it might be unbelievable, to an outsider. It's hard to pick a chapter that stands out more than another (because they're all good) but when the author gets going about the sexual peccadillos of the men and women in "Potomac Land"...well....then we get into some real comedy. But there is a serious side to all of this, too.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you weren't already cynical about the stupid, immoral, crazy, and downright strange political leaders running our government, this book will get you there. Read morePublished on February 21, 2011 by Autumn Sun
This book is a mix of amusing, sometimes revealing, anecdotes and rehashed news items that will be all too familiar to anyone who follows Washington politics. Read morePublished on March 2, 2009 by Robert L. Moore
Forget partisanship and political loyalty -- D.C. really is a bizarre land, and the author's illustrations will have you laughing out loud. Read morePublished on January 5, 2009 by Joe
This book is flippant and excessively cynical. It offers too little insight and too many cheap gags. Read morePublished on August 4, 2008 by T. Tucker
the narrative Mr. Milbank wants to drive prevails, no matter the facts. Not one penny for this hack who wants to sound in-the-know.Published on August 3, 2008 by carthage
Milbank twists facts, taking quotes out of context so that they fit his preconceived argument, even when in fact, the full quote would reveal the speaker as giving the exact... Read morePublished on July 30, 2008 by jazmin
Homo Politicus reveals the widespread corruption that presently corrodes our government Mr. Milbank uses the analogy of mystical practices among barbarians of every stripe from... Read morePublished on July 28, 2008 by Sylvia Bokor
I can honestly say that this book is a very good read. Informative, neutral in opinion, and at times just plain funny! Read morePublished on June 7, 2008 by Theodore N. Stevens