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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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“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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Still, if you can set aside a so-this-is-how-my-tax-dollars-are-spent mentality, you should find the book witty, gossipy and informative - though not surprising. You must see the politicos and hangers-on as the preening pretenders that most of them are. There are few statesmen and women among this crowd and few genuine leaders - from the voter's point of view. Even when they say they are not making deals, they are. I have heard there's no longer a big social scene in D.C., a la the Reagan years, but apparently there is.
I am put off that the author has commercialized his relationships - no matter how shallow they are - but I am a political junkie so I downloaded the book on my Kindle anyway. It confirms what many of us have observed for years: media are more intent on protecting treasured sources than reporting the truth. Sometimes media ignore nasty stories about their favorite news sources. Whether it's Clinton, Petraeus or someone like Anthony Weiner, media love to tear down public figures (it sells)but celebrate their so-called comebacks (it sells). This book also confirms that those who have gotten caught with hands in the cookie jar or on private parts of a much younger woman, were usually already knee-deep in their misdeeds. Lesson for us: forgiving is fine, but we should probably not reelect these people - and we don't have to admire them either. It's fun to just laugh at them.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a fun read--but with two codicils:
1) You have to be pretty up on Washington politics, including being at least clued into its social scene. Read more
This is a well-written gossip rag. It's delightfully bipartisan and does a good job at its stated goal—capturing the present-day culture of Washington, D. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ryan Mease
I haven't read this yet, but a brief glance through the pages looks really interesting as the book is full of behind-the-scenes portraits of political big shots. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Cheshire Plays Chess
I thought this would be an interesting back-stage tale of DC intrigue, but it's just a way for Leibovich to earn money on book sales. Save your cash.Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
For some reason Mark feels compelled to say "This Town" throughout the text, often several times per page. I felt this was heavy handed and distracting. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jason Hornbuckle