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‘This Town,’ a Decade Later

Rep. Darrell Issa and Rep. Todd Akin outside the Republican National Committee headquarters
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
August 13, 2021

Mark Leibovich, my friend and fellow Odessan Jew, is the author of many wickedly insightful profiles for the New York Times and its Magazine. But it was his iconic 2013 book This Town that I think will be his lasting contribution to the cannon of American political writing. (If you haven’t read it, remediate that immediately.) I reread it recently and was again humbled by the fluency of his writing and the sharpness of his anthropological analysis, an elegant fileting of an entire social class. Revisiting the opening chapter alone—the Kennedy Center funeral of NBC anchor Tim Russert and the “power mourners” trying to keep the veil of performative grief from slipping to reveal the furious networking they were doing at the somber event—was enough to make me wonder what had delusion led me to believe that I could ever write.