On Air
Open In Popup
MPR News

Leibovich's 'This Town' portrays DC as swamp of corruption, dysfunction

Share story

This Town
The cover of "This Town" by Mark Leibovich.
Book cover courtesy of publisher

In "This Town," Mark Leibovich paints a portrait of Washington D.C. as a town obsessed with status and money -- a place where people get elected to office by railing against the swamp that is D.C., but then  are content never to leave.

In 1974, only three percent of Congresspeople became lobbyists. Now 50 percent of Senators and 42 percent of Representatives become lobbyists once they're out of office. 

Leibovich argues that such entrenchment leads to corruption and dysfunction in a place that is supposed to be working for the common good.

"This is supposedly a city built on public service," Leibovich said on The Daily Show. "Yes, it's Hollywood for ugly people. That's the cliche. But in fact Hollywood is fantasy...Washington is for keeps. Washington is paid for by the American people. Washington is supposedly a city of a higher calling. And that's just been totally tipped on its head."


• This Townhouse of Cards
Most people in Washington D.C. do not live in the town that Leibovich writes about in his book, writes reporter Jill Lewis in National Journal.

• Confronting This Town with 'This Town':
Hear Mark Leibovich discuss his book on Slate's "Live at Politics & Prose" podcast.

• Unauthorized index of "This Town"
"Mark Leibovich's insider book on self-promotion, self-enrichment and self-perpetuation in the nation's capital comes with a label on the dust jacket: 'WARNING: This Town does not contain an index. Those players wishing to know how they came out will need to read the book.' No fear, players. The Washington Post has scoured 'This Town' and found 739 names - people real and fictional, famous and infamous. Find out if you're one of them."