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This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral—Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!—in America's Gilded Capital Hardcover – July 16, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

[This Town] is a puckish satire of the Washington political class’s steady retreat into its own gilded navel. Leibovich is a talented writer, and he resists the trap that more insecure, bloviating political writers might fall into: affirmatively spoon-feeding their own political judgments to readers at all turns. Leibovich just documents what he sees, and whom he talks to, wittily mimicking the so-what tone that these glib, dismal samples of humanity use to describe their controversial waking lives. In other words, he lets those who would be hanged hang themselves, by being themselves. —Jim Newell

Review

"This Town is funny, it's interesting, and it is demoralizing ... I loved it as much as you can love something which hurts your heart."John Oliver, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

“In addition to his reporting talents, Leibovich is a writer of excellent zest. At times his book is laugh-out-loud (as well as weep-out-loud). He is an exuberant writer, even as his reporting leaves one reaching for Xanax…[This Town] is vastly entertaining and deeply troubling.”—Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review

"It's been the summer of This Town. What lingers from This Town is what will linger in Washington well after its current dinosaurs are extinct: the political culture owned by big money."—Frank Rich, New York Magazine

"
Many decades from now, a historian looking at where America lost its way could use This Town as a primary source."—Fareed Zakaria

“Here it is, Washington in all its splendid, sordid glory…[Leibovich] seems to wear those special glasses that allow you to x-ray the outside and see what’s really going on. Start to finish, this is a brilliant portrait – pointillist, you might say, or modern realist. So brilliant that once it lands on a front table at Politics & Prose Leibovich will never be able to have lunch in this town again. There are also important insights tucked in among the barbs…So here’s to all the big mouths, big shots, big machers, and big jerks. In case you’re wondering, Mark Leibovich is on to every one of you, and his portrayal of This Town is spot on.” David Shribman, The New York Times

“In his new book This Town, Mark Leibovich commits an act of treason against the Washington establishment… Thoroughly entertaining… Leibovich is a keen observer and energetic writer.”—Reid Pillifant, New York Observer
 
This Town is a frothy Beltway insider tell-all …rollicking fun and sharply written. A big, sprawling fun beach read of a book—snappy and well-crafted.”—Susan Gardner, The Daily Kos
 
This Town is as entertaining for the broader picture it paints of a capital that corrupts even the most incorruptible as it is for the salacious gossip that dominated early reviews. Books like Leibovich’s are important resources for historians who, a century from now, will use This Town as a trove of background information for a pivotal period when our politics became poisonous.”—Reid Wilson, The National Journal
 
“Leibovich delivers the reportorial goods. He is in all the parties, and supplies a wildly entertaining anthrolopogical tour.”—Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine
 
“Leibovich has written a very funny book about how horrible his industry can be… Uncommonly honest.”David Weigel, Slate
 
“[Leibovich] is a master of the political profile… This Town is as insidery as Game Change”Carlos Lozada, Washington Post
 
“Intensely anticipated…. [Leibovich] has a real affection for many of his characters… [and] also throws a few unapologetically hard punches.” Ben Smith, Buzzfeed

“Witty, entertaining….the book is enlightening on how journalism is practiced in Washington…This Town could also be source material for your book about what’s wrong with these horrible people and – more importantly, but also much more difficult – how to fix the culture that led to their ascendance….This Town is a funny book, but it should probably make you as angry and depressed as “Two American Families.” Alex Pareene, Salon.com
 
“For the sweaty, twitching, huddled masses of Washington gossip addicts, This Town is rife with such shiny nuggets, the literary equivalent of crack.” Lloyd Grove, Newsweek/The Daily Beast
 
“Corrosively funny and subtly subversive…. siren song of money and pseudo-celebrity ….irresistible."Walter Shapiro, The American Prospect
 
“Like a modern-day Balzac to US capital power players….hilarious….perceptive.” Richard McGregor, Financial Times
 
“A rollicking, if disconcerting, read.”Denver Post
 
“Provides a lancing, often hysterically funny portrait of the capital’s vanities and ambitions.” The New Yorker
 
“A common trope among conservatives is the “cocktail party scene,” which Republican reformers encounter when they go to Washington and which lures them into selling out their beliefs. This Town provides plenty of evidence not only that those worries are grounded, but that it’s far worse than we imagined….[U]nusual and refreshing…. [A] successful and needed undertaking…. Leibovich enlivens his tedious subjects with a funny and vivid writing style…. he’s also an engaging storyteller. The last quarter of This Town, which dishes on Leibovich’s encounters with the major players from the 2012 election, is undeniably good reading… If you want to understand why you should wake up quivering with white-hot hatred for elite Washington, This Town is well worth your time.” Matt Purple, The American Spectator
 
“[A] sharp-eyed, funny and elegantly written takedown of Washington’s crass, insidery, back-scratching (by journalists and politicians alike) culture…. [T]he Tony Soprano of journalists…but with a heart.” Margaret Carlson, Bloomberg News
 
“This book has to be the book of the summer, open on the fat or flat bellies of Washington's privileged political elite at Rehoboth, Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket. Even if they are in it, or are looking for themselves in it with dread or delicious anticipation, a Washington version of narcissism, "This Town" is not to be missed.” Dan Simpson, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Not since Truman Capote’s “Answered Prayers” knocked New York society on its heels with its thinly fictionalized revelations of real players who had thought the author was their friend has a book so riled a city’s upper echelons.”—Lois Romano, Politico

 
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Blue Rider Press; First Edition edition (July 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399161309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399161308
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (877 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I gave this book one star.
Andrew J. Guinosso
Everyone in America should read this book to get an inside look at what really goes on in Washington, D.C.
Henrietta Linenbrink
Well written very entertaining book.
Robert C. Anderson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

298 of 311 people found the following review helpful By D. Graves TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is not an in-depth investigation into Washington corruption; it is, rather, a panoramic view of the culture of Washington, the fertile soil in which the corruption grows and flourishes. Presented in a lively, humorous manner, it is rather enjoyable to read. So much so that one tends to lose sight of the fact that these are people - Washington insiders, that is - who enrich themselves with money taxpayers are forced to send to the government. You get the sense that these people always have a smirk on their faces, laughing at the stupid people - everyone outside of the Beltway - who support their little aristocracy upon the Potomac ('The Club', as it's referred to). The author, Mark Leibovich, doesn't draw conclusions for us, he presents the rather corrupt underbelly of Washington - politicians and their minions as they really are - and let's us decide just how bad it really is.

The remarkable aspect of the book is the author's ability to not take sides, politically: most books on politics end up offending readers from one side or the other but here both sides are equally hoisted on their own petards. Democrats may outnumber Republicans but only because Leibovich is writing about the last several years, with much of the book centered upon the 2012 elections. But, as a New York Times reporter, the author certainly isn't anti-liberal, by any means; he's simply giving an honest account of what he has seen behind the curtains.

That honesty, however, has its limits and this is my main criticism of the book. Leibovich shies away from exposing true corruption and seems to want to be friends with these people.
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102 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Heather K. Michon on July 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Reading Mark Leibovich's "This Town," the image that kept coming to mind was a bunch of ant colonies that over the generations had merged together into one enormous super-colony. No longer competing for resources, they grow fat and complacent as they go about their oh-so-industrious lives. In nature, it would be at this point that something other force would invade - a colony of bigger, badder ants, or some sort of parasitic mite - and do them all in. Fortunately for the denizens of Washington DC, that doesn't seem to be on the horizon for This Town.

Like all dishy political books, most of Leibovich's best anecdotes were leaked before the book was even on the shelves, but there's still plenty of good stuff in there. And by "good stuff," I mean outrageous, maddening, excessive and just plain silly stuff. As Alex Pareene wrote for Salon.com, if you already hate Washington, this book will help you hate it with more specificity.

It's a difficult book to categorize. It's not satire or a polemic. Leibovich doesn't seem to have an ax to grind, and most certainly doesn't make any recommendations for change. In essence, this is a very well-written anthropological study of a specific tribe, with its own culture, language and social mores - with the author playing the part of the anthropologist...observing, slightly bemused, but unwilling to judge. He's willing to let his readers do that for themselves.
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85 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Leslie N. Patino on July 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the start of "This Town," Mark Leibovich demonstrates his considerable writing skills and his insider's knowledge of Washington. The tales he tells so well confirm his nod to local literary tradition which at times compares D.C. to a high school. I'm betting that at this moment there are plenty of folks in D.C. devouring the book which came out today. ("What did he say about me? What did he say about my friends and the people I'm not friends with?")

The thing is Leibovich does it in such snappy, funny writing that he keeps you reading. He throws out phrases like "peacocking policitians," "garaged yard signs" and "pundit catnip." He breezily refers to insiders by nicknames like "the Tamster," "the Macker" and "the Money Honey." My favorite was that shortly before Romney became the 2012 Republican candidate, voters realized "that they were on the verge of nominating Thurston Howell III."

While Leibovich drops plenty of names, his book isn't just a 400-page version of a tabloid magazine. He has covered his beat (Washington) well and for a long time. No doubt some readers will be disheartened at the cynical and out-for-me attitude of most of the individuals Leibovich describes. Honestly, though, didn't we all pretty much know that already? Others will probably be disappointed that he didn't dish more dirty. But did you really expect the man to go there if he wants to keep his job and his connections?

The book is the solid, well-written result of years of experience. After a while though, it became one more story piled on top of another about smart people with tremendous abilities who almost always succumb to the narcissistic culture of Washington. Leibovich is too smart to offer any suggestions of how we can change it.
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163 of 189 people found the following review helpful By Anne L. Mendoza on July 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Beginning with a big bang, Leibovich treats the reader to a delicious portrayal of vanity and runaway opportunism by the political and chattering classes at a memorial service for the late Tim Russert. And then the air slowly seeps out of the balloon as a gentle takedown ensues. With few exceptions, Leibovich both condemns and excuses the single-minded and shameless pursuit of money, stature, and power by mediocrities inside the Beltway at the expense of real America. Highlights include a well deserved beating for Steve Schmidt, the best line in the book for the reprehensible Richard Gephardt, pot shots at David Gregory who is singled out as a mediocrity in extremis, the shaming of the late Richard Holbrooke for overstaying his welcome, and excuses galore for the conflicts of interest attached to Andrea Mitchell.

Insiders and political junkies who actually watch the Sunday talk shows and patronize other pundit platforms will know most of the characters who swim through the narrative. Nobody else will.
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