Wednesday, September 11, 2013


This Town: two parties and a funeral--plus, plenty of valet parking!--in America's gilded capitalThis Town: two parties and a funeral--plus, plenty of valet parking!--in America's gilded capital by Mark Leibovich
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I worked for the federal government for 25 years. One day we were told we were getting a new branch chief. Her introductory e-mail expressed her supposed joy at getting a chance to work with such a group of "dedicated professionals". A day later she sent another e-mail. She wouldn't be coming after all. Overnight, apparently, she'd received a better offer, or, as she termed it,  "another chance to excel."  Her attitude seems to typify what passes for "public service" amongst the operators in Washington these days. A government career is seen as a stepping stone to something bigger and better. The book was fast-paced, fun and annoying. Chief annoyance: no index. Leibovich excuses this omission on the grounds that it would make Washington's "players"  buy the book instead of picking it up at a bookstore, searching the index for their names, reading what the author says about them and replacing the book on the shelf. However, readers outside the Beltway need an index to keep track of the cast of characters. For instance, "Gibbs" is mentioned in the early pages. He is not identified as one of Obama's key advisers until later. Another annoyance is the gratuitous vulgarity. The worst example is at the bottom of page 329, where Leibovich uses an off-color high-schoolism to describe a casual conversation among a Representative and three Senators, one of which was MD's Ben Cardin. Totally uncalled for. (I would have been able to cite the page number sooner if I'd been able to look up Cardin in the index.)

View all my reviews