Have you ever had a friend who nurtured a vice to the level of art form? Maybe he's always got a story about the times he's gotten royally wasted -- the one where he passed out naked on the steps of the fraternity house with all of his body hair shaved off and a dozen penises drawn on him in Sharpie. Maybe she's the party animal who breathlessly tells you about the time she was tripping so hard she saw Jesus riding a unicorn while Bob Marley played a funky reggae rendition of "Ride of the Valkyries". Maybe he's the guy with a hundred stories of nearly getting shot, stabbed or pummeled by jealous lovers as he escaped from some late-night tryst with yet another pretty face. Whatever the misdeeds, they'll finish their story by shaking their head and saying, "I've gotta stop doing this" -- but you see that glint in their eyes, the grin they can't quite wipe off their face, and you know they love it way too much to give it up.
That's the feeling I get from listening to This Town.Mark Leibovich describes the antics of the DC crowd -- variously called "This Town," "The Club", "The Gang of Five Hundred", or most blandly, "The Establishment" -- with the same rueful glee as your friend with the unhealthy love of the bottle, the pill, or the conquest. Leibovich is self-aware enough to realize that his community is ethically bankrupt, outrageously out of touch with reality, and contemptibly self-involved ... but his Serious Face keeps slipping, and he can never muster the outrage that is an outsider's only rational response to his exposé. The most he can manage is to paint a picture, sardonically, of what DC people actually think about the events that surround them, when all of the spin and "messaging" are stripped away. The end result is plenty outrageous and disgusting without him even needing to layer on any moralizing commentary. Ironically, by presenting himself as a near-totally unapologetic insider to the world he uncovers, he ends up coming off as a lot more credible and authentic than the hordes of writers and pundits who wax holier-than-thou about the way business is done in Washington.
The Washington elite inhabit hypocrisy like a fish inhabits water, so surrounded by it that they are rarely even conscious of its existence. This astonishing cognitive dissonance is what Leibovich portrays the most vividly and effectively. It's not that these people are bad, at least not in the sense of being ill-intentioned; they're just so monumentally self-absorbed, so trapped in their bubble of self-congratulation and mutual admiration, that every aspect of their lives has become hollow and inauthentic. Leibovich shows how even the supremely well-intentioned get waylaid, co-opted and subverted by the Washington machine; the Obama people, fresh from the 2008 campaign with big plans about how they're going to "change the game in Washington", illustrate this especially well. Nobody inside the Beltway lost much sleep about the Obama Change Brigade, because they knew from the start what the Obamas didn't discover until too late: You don't change Washington. Washington changes you.
Special props go to the narrator for this production, Joe Barrett. He perfectly conveys the sardonic, self-aware tone of Leibovich's book, as well as the genuine pleasure that he feels in the company of these people whom we, the audience, are so ready to be disgusted by. It would have been easy to get the feel wrong on this book, but Barrett nails it.
The idea was intriguing but the execution was too much about the author who wasn't that compelling. No context.
It was too much about him.
I cannot recall
It's good for casual reading. I prefer long stuff.
I would recommend checking this one out of the library or shopping remainders where it probably is by now
The author is clearly writing from first person and he just as clearly isn't making any of this up. It'd just be too weird to be fiction.
Somewhere near the end of the first book, I thought, "Sweet Jesus...there's more?" And I just couldn't go on. Bad enough I found myself driving along whispering, "The horror...the horror" as the first book played out.
Something fictional. Likely with magic. Where bad guys are clearly marked by their black robes, bad haircuts, and evil laughs. And where said bad guys get beheaded on a regular basis. Seriously need a palate cleanse.
The old, wily congressman saying that he really did think it was important to remember peoples' birthdays and anniversaries. That was so perversely endearing.
Yes; and it was worth knowing when to stop.
BEING ABLE TO RESUME LISTENING AFTER THE FIRST 5 HOUR SEGMENT. WOULD NOT OPERATE AFTER THAT POINT, DESPITE MULTIPLE ATTEMPTS.
WILL LET YOU KNOW IF I EVER GET A CHANCE TO LISTEN TO THE WHOLE WORK.
ENHANCE YOUR TECH SUPPORT. 30 MINUTE WAIT TIMES WON'T GET IT DONE IN THE 21ST CENTURY.
"This Town" is a guilty pleasure that reveals the similarities between the daily doings of Big Government in DC and your average American high school. Bulllies abound, ambition is as necessary as good hair, people get ousted and are sometimes allowed to return and meritocracy remains only a lofty goal. I just wish that Liebovich included one big apology (to everyone he savages) at the end instead of repeatedly disavowing his unkind / devastating comments immediately after. It's snarky and reminds me of the lame of apologies of an insult comic after he trashes an unwitting audience member.
My favorite scene was the encounter of two journalists at the bar mitzvah of David Brooks' son. As one of the journalists gives the other a "heads up" that he will be trashing him in tomorrow's column--during the traditional Jewish circle dance--the other says: "I cannot believe you are telling me this DURING THE HORA!" The narrator delivers this line with such relish!
Joe Barrett gives a terrific performance.
One of the audiobooks I truly enjoyed listening to, and one that I recommend. I live in DC so l liked the salacious gossip about personalities. It also disappointed me to here how many people in this city (politicians, media personalities, lobbyists) are getting rich by sucking at the government teat.
I was surprised at just how well written this book was. The author was constantly entertaining and making me laugh while providing some great information. I would recommend this book to all political junkies but, be warned, when you are finished with the book Washington, politics, and journalism will have a different meaning.
Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a tuxedo and you were a pair of brown shoes?
After reading Leibovich's book, I came away with a pretty different view of Washington. I dislike it even more. However, this was just a fun book to listen to. Barrett is a gifted story teller and I had several instances of out loud laughter at some of the antics of the people that run our country right now from the lobbyists to the Beltway Club to the White House. This covers it all and doesn't spare anyone. There is some overlap here with Game Change and Collision 2012 but only towards the end. There is significant emphasis on the journalism crowd as well as Hill staffers and the "wanna-be's" of Washington.
However, it's just fun. It was somewhat slow for me to get into but I became more interested in the middle of the book. The piece on Harry Reid was very insightful but would have wanted more on Hillary and Obama.
Regardless, it was fun.
It was quick. I did know a few of the names. List of who make or Gov't work?
What a bunch of phonies and back stabbing, self absorbed, .........."Party animals!"
His voice was easy to listen.
Yes. A sitting may include drive time. Once I started it was interesting.
I was really looking forward to this insider's glimpse into the gossip, games, and politics of Washington DC.
Unfortunately the stories told are so bland that they hardly are interesting.
Maybe it's true that "Washington is Hollywood for ugly people" but these people are hardly interesting.