The Big Break

The Gamblers, Party Animals, and True Believers Trying to Win in Washington While America Loses Its Mind


By Ben Terris

Read by Tim Andrés Pabon

Formats and Prices





  1. Audiobook Download (Unabridged) $27.99
  2. ebook $15.99 $20.99 CAD
  3. Hardcover $30.00 $38.00 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around June 6, 2023. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

In this fascinating investigation into the real life inner workings of a post-Trump American government, uncover the odd and eccentric personalities grappling for their own bit of power in D.C.

The Big Break investigates how Washington works, and how different kinds of people try to make it work for them. Ben Terris presents an inside history of this crucial moment in Washington, reporting from exclusive parties, poker nights, fundraisers, secluded farms outside town and the halls of Congress; among the oddballs and opportunists and true believers. This book is about the people who see this moment as an opportunity to bet big—on their country or maybe just on themselves. It will take a close look at Washington’s bold-faced names as they try to get their bearings on the post-Trump (and possibly pre-Trump) landscape. And it will introduce readers to the behind-the-scenes players — MAGA pilgrims and Resistance flamekeepers and shapeshifting veterans — who believe they know what Washington, and America, must do if they’re going to survive, or even thrive.

Trump’s arrival in Washington represented a big break in how the city operated. He surrounded himself with outsiders; power structures reorganized around those who knew him or his family and those who could flatter and influence his base. He changed the way the game was played, only it wasn’t actually a game at all. When pro-Trump elements both inside and outside of government plotted to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election, the Capitol became a combat zone, then a military fortress. 

It was, to put it lightly, a destabilizing time. But how much did the Trump years really change Washington? Has Joe Biden’s presidency heralded a return to normal, as many had hoped? What did ‘normal’ mean before Trump, and what do people think it means now? 

The Big Break will follow a cast of D.C. characters in search of answers to these questions. They are a diverse crew—a pollster with a gambling habit, an oil heiress with a big heart, a cowboy lobbyist, a Republican kingmaker who decided to love Trump and his right-hand man who decided he couldn’t any longer. They all share at least one thing in common: They had seen their country go through a Big Break, and they’d come to get theirs.


  • "Many books promise to reveal 'how Washington really works.' THE BIG BREAK actually does—by zooming in not on the principals—the politicians and talking heads—but instead on the worker bees: the staffers who make our capital work each day, a hard to decipher mix of craven opportunists and the true believers who are sometimes one in the same. What happened next can only be understood through the eyes of Ben Terris, one of the most principled and perceptive reporters in Washington, who masterfully guides us through the destabilizing decade that followed the first black presidency." 
    Wesley Lowery, Pulitzer Prize winning journalists and author of American Whitelash: A Changing Nation and the Cost of Progress

On Sale
Jun 6, 2023
Hachette Audio

Ben Terris

About the Author

Ben Terris is a writer in The Washington Post's Style section with a focus on national politics. He lives in Maryland with his wife, Rachel, and sons Ralph and Jack.

Learn more about this author