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This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral--Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!--In America's Gilded Capital [Paperback]

Mark Leibovich
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Jun 2014
Hailed as "vastly entertaining and deeply troubling" ("The New York Times Book Review"), "as insidery as "Game Change"" ("The Washington Post"), and a "hysterically funny portrait of the capital's vanities and ambitions" ("The New Yorker"), "This Town "captured America's attention as "the "political book of 2013. With a new Afterword by author Mark Leibovich, the book that is changing the national conversation about Washington is available in a stunning new edition. Washington, D.C., might be loathed from every corner of the nation, yet these are fun and busy days at this nexus of big politics, big money, big media, and big vanity. There are no Democrats and Republicans anymore in the nation's capital, just millionaires. In "This Town, "Mark Leibovich, chief national correspondent for "The New""York Times Magazine, "presents a blistering, stunning--and often hysterically funny-- examination of our ruling class's incestuous "media industrial complex." Through his eyes, we discover how the funeral for a beloved newsman becomes the social event of the year. How political reporters are fetishized for their ability to get their names into the predawn e-mail sent out by the city's most powerful and puzzled-over journalist. How a disgraced Hill aide can overcome ignominy and maybe emerge with a more potent "brand" than many elected members of Congress. And how an administration bent on "changing Washington" can be sucked into the ways of "This Town "with the same ease with which Tea Party insurgents can, once elected, settle into it like a warm bath. Outrageous, fascinating, and very necessary, "This Town "is a must-read, whether you're inside the Beltway--or just trying to get there.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin USA; Reprint edition (25 Jun 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399170685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399170683
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 3 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 372,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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""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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Mark Leibovich is "The New York Times Magazine"'s chief national correspondent, based in Washington, D.C. He is the author of "The New Imperialists, "a collection of profiles on technology pioneers. Leibovich lives with his family in Washington.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Political Comeuppance 15 Aug 2013
This is a book that all America should be reading, not just the DC insiders. I expect most of DC is reading this book to see if they appear. It is not a book for those who love the so called 'heros' in DC.

Mark Leibovich is the Chief National Correspondent of The New York Times Magazine, he is in the know and has written a portrait of those who run the politics in the United States. President Obama is not part of this book, but many others are!

The author has separated this book into two of the most important funerals in the town, Tim Russert and Richard Holbrook. He describes the 'in' groups, those who want to be included and the climbers. Funerals are not only to bury the loved ones, but to meet and be seen. To discuss who is not there and why not. He tells us who the 'heavy lifters' are and who to avoid.Tammy Haddad is someone who comes off as crass and obvious, but everyone continues to want no be seen at her parties. The author spares few and here are a few of my favorite digs.

Joe Scarborough of the MSNBC 'Morning Joe", sees himself as a possible Presidential candidate. What a laugh, the man has an ego bigger than his head. Mark Leibovich calls this act as "the ultimate example of the political -media complex flying up it's own a**."

Joe Biden "is a lovable rodeo clown of the Obama administration."

Harry Reid Dem Leader of the Senate, "is endowed with all the magnetism of a dried snail."

Mr. Leibovich also makes some major points. 50% of retiring senators and 42% of retiring congressmen become lobbyists. It is a recyclable circle. He also discusses in depth ow the town DC, is run by journalists and what this has done to our country.
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3.0 out of 5 stars This Town 7 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Gossipy and entertaining but lacking, perhaps deliberately, in analysis. A few less names could have been dropped in order to get a better overview of the apparatus.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but heavy to carry... 17 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is wonderful gossip about Washington, D.C. folks. I started reading it, but then had to travel, so couldn't carry a hardcover around. So, haven't yet finished it.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars confused 3 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Im not interested in washington dc parties. Thought it would be more politicaly edgy and insightful,. very disappointing. It reads like one of the people hes writing about. Superficial.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  874 reviews
298 of 311 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent insight into how Washington REALLY runs 16 July 2013
By D. Graves - Published on
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. I suppose a political reporter needs friends and allies in Washington and is disinclined to burn too many bridges by exposing the true breadth and depth of the decadence of 'The Club'. However, it's often like a member of the club - which the author certainly is - having had a few drinks too many is giving us a verbal sneak peek of how Washington works behind the scenes, but giving us only a few quick glances behind the curtain before closing it again (lest he risk his membership for exposing too much). But, to his credit, Leibovich does expose the way-too-cozy relationship between politicians and the media people who cover them, which seems to be the reason why Washington never changes: the public rarely gets the whole truth.

Overall, the book is an amusing and insightful view of Washington that most people never see. Full of unflattering anecdotes about top politicians, but more so a view of the culture that breeds such people and the constellation of enablers which surrounds them. If nothing else, it's a very entertaining book.
102 of 113 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brisk, Entertaining, Maddening Inside View of Permanent Washington 20 July 2013
By Heather K. Michon - Published on
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, 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.
84 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Snappy, funny writing that keeps you reading 16 July 2013
By Leslie N. Patino - Published on
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.
163 of 189 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE? 19 July 2013
By Anne L. Mendoza - Published on
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.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Our Nation's Capitol Makes Vegas Seem Classy 19 July 2013
By Jay - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For taxpayers, Leibovich's book brings into focus how indifferent our elected officials are to those of us who elected them.
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.
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