If you needed any reason to be cynical about American politics–especially nationally–then Mark Leibovich’s This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — plus plenty of valet parking! — in America’s Gilded Capital is the book for you.
I guarantee that you will not put it down with a single breath of hope and optimism about the future of our country remaining in you. Unless, of course, you’re one of the few wealthy or connected enough to be one of the elites.
On the other hand, maybe some healthy skepticism about government is a good thing.
That or a journalist. Because to hear Leibovich tell it in this highly entertaining look at America’s capital, journalists have become accomplices to the what happens there. Instead of America’s Fourth Estate providing a check on the corruption, they have drunk from the Kool-Aid and drunk deeply.
I didn’t pick up This Town because I am disillusioned, though certainly provides plenty of fodder for those who have lost faith in the fair and transparent workings of government. Certainly, the same trends that have led to Donald Trump’s rise to the top of national polls can be seen in the descriptions that Leibovich gives. Rather, I read it from the perspective of a political junkie, and Leibovich fills This Town with stories, anecdotes, and miscellany that should interest any political observer. At times I felt like a driver slowly passing a bad accident on the interstate, unable to tear my eyes away. At the same time, it was hard to forget that, as an American, I am a passenger in the wreck.
As a resident of the capital, and a journalist himself, Liebovich is as much a member of the club as he is a critic, and he frankly admits this fact. That said, he seems to pull no punches in framing the lives of the people whose lives are centered on the parties, accolades, and money that make the city churn. The result is an absolutely fascinating, and occasionally disturbing, read.