One of the nation's most acclaimed journalists, The New York Times' Mark Leibovich, presents a blistering, penetrating, jaw-dropping - and often hysterical - look at Washington’s incestuous "media industrial complex".
The great thing about Washington is no matter how many elections you lose, how many times you're indicted, how many scandals you've been tainted by, well, the great thing is you can always eat lunch in that town again. What keeps the permanent government spinning on its carousel is the freedom of shamelessness, and that mother's milk of politics, cash.
In Mark Leibovich’s remarkable look at the way things really work in D.C., a funeral for a beloved television star becomes the perfect networking platform, a disgraced political aide can emerge with more power than his boss, campaign losers befriend their vanquishers (and make more money than ever!), "conflict of interest" is a term lost in translation, political reporters are fetishized and worshipped for their ability to get one's name in print, and, well - we're all really friends, aren't we?
What Julia Phillips did for Hollywood, Timothy Crouse did for journalists, and Michael Lewis did for Wall Street, Mark Leibovich does for our nation's capital.
©2013 Mark Leibovich (P)2013 Penguin Audio
Leibovich provides an interesting look into the world of politics in Washington, D.C. with the perspective of an insider who's usually an observer of those who wield the power. The story flowed well and did a very good job of explaining how everything and everyone in D.C. are (incestuously?) related and connected. For political junkies and lovers of the TV Series, The West Wing, this book will provide a thrill that shows what makes Washington tick.
Definitely worth reading if you're interested in American politics!
Engineer, sailor, and prolific reader of non-fiction
Don't be deceived by the title of my review; for some people, this book is a serious and exhaustive overview of the sociological-political dynamic within Washington D.C.
On another level, the book is a gossip-fest that rivals the trashiest and sleaziest gossip magazines that grace the checkout lanes of your local supermarket.
Mark Leibovich rexplores the insider view of the professional and personal lives of politicians, pundits, staffers, lobbyists, and PR people who populate the seemingly endless parties and other self-congratulatory assemblages within D.C. society, focusing primarily on specific personalities and relationships which are the background behind what actually goes on, behind the scenes, in the nation's capitol. Leibovich often strips bare the more generally accepted profiles of the major players of government, expounding on numerous well-known (and many lesser-known) functionaries, providing some insight into their motivations and methods of operation. In general, Liebovich portrays a town of navel-gazers, universally obsessed with who they know, what parties they are invited to, what power and influence they have, and how they can parlay their service into every higher-paying opportunities.
I enjoyed much of the background information and historical perspectives on well-known Washington players, although I admit that snark, like anything else, can get to be a bit too much. Still, the book does provide a rather unique insight into people who they often see on talk television or hear on talk radio, see quoted in the newspaper, and talked about elsewhere, providing more depth and insight that the popular press can convey.
Narrator Joe Barrett does an excellent job, conveying the cynicism of the text without being overbearing about it.
In short, political junkies and gossip fans will enjoy this... but not everyone else will.
I worked for a pollster mentioned in the book just as the insanity captured in the book started happening. The story moves and captures the spirit of DC. The author deals with a serious matter while capturing the bewilderment you feel watching the Beltway circus. As an observer, your choices are getting sucked in to sleeze, cry over the fact that this is the seat of democracy or find some humor. The author captures this range well.
I have listened to this book twice now (with six months in between).
If I could characterise the tone of the book, I would say it is of a sarcastic wallflower mocking the kids at the high school prom. Sarcastic, sometimes unfair and often close to the bone, but also incredibly fun.
I'm not sure which came first, the HBO series Veep, or this book, but they are in a similar vein and illuminate the desperate jostling for position that seems to be modern politics.
Many serious points are made regarding politicians' deceptive personal branding, shameless "monetizing" of government service via the revolving door to lobbying, and mind-blowing lack of convictions by campaiging against an industry in government and then almost immediately joining that industry as a lobbyist.
Many of these people are self obsessed, self promoting, and shamelessly low in moral fiber and Mark Leibovich gives you plenty of examples whilst being gut-bustingly funny.
The overall narrative arc could probably have been better, but who gives!
One additional note - Joe Barret's performance made the book even funnier. His subtly sarcastic tone matched the authors work perfectly and made me tear up with laughter regularly. I'm sure I will give this book another listen in another six months, just to hear him read it all over again. Thank you Mr. Barret!
So funny and sarcastic. Yet the joke is ultimately on us, as the vain, rich, corrupt and powerful in This Town, indulge themselves and their egos at our expense.
Great insiders view of the cynical media lifestyle that feeds off the powerful but, the gossip felt a little to invasive for me, was blushing most of the book. I did enjoy hearing the frank unrevealing.
Good voice, inflection and kept it lively.
Of course...the story continues and really there's a lot more on social media getting folks in trouble that would be fodder for a next book.
I live and work around the Beltway, it was helpful to be entertained by the stories of what most folks assume happens...but, names, dates and specifics make it come to life.
This is a great book. Very funny, but very depressing. Mark Leibovich is hysterical, but the underside of media coverage of politics...and worse, the revolving door among government, media, lobbying, government, media, private industry, etc made me concerned for the survival of our republic. Who's in charge, and who's paying attention? Apparently, I haven't been. I look at a lot of our media outlets differently now. Whose interest do they serve? More importantly, whose interest do our elected officials serve?
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.
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