3 out of 4 stars
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Dark Matters is a work of nonfiction by David Bouchier. The book is made up of a series of related essays that comment on the culture, politics, and mindset of modern America. The different chapters cover topics like religion, sports, the pursuit of happiness, American optimism/pessimism, and how the Enlightenment both created and failed modern society. The author incorporates old and new ideas in his analysis of how the past has brought us to a disappointing present where irrationality rules.
This book quickly set itself apart from other political works I have read. The author doesn’t just list a series of opinions; he makes a compelling argument by analyzing the evidence present in the world around him. I guessed early on that the author was a professional writer and professor based on the way he presents his arguments, and I was pleased to find this was true. Bouchier, as an Englishman living in America, has a unique perspective on a society where he considers himself an “outsider”. Although much of the book is a dark reflection on America’s culture, the author intersperses harsh reality with comical truth and had me, a fellow “sports atheist”, actually laughing out loud while reading.
Although I appreciated the polished style of this book, I still found issues that led me to believe it wasn’t professionally edited. The variety of grammatical and typographical errors present had an effect on my view of the author’s credibility. Beyond this, some chapters wandered into the realm of simply listing the author’s thoughts with little evidence or analysis, although he always managed to bring his thoughts back into a coherent explanation of the big picture.
Based on the criteria above, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It presents an interesting and challenging view of American society, but I think it could use a critical editor to make it truly shine. Since the book is already covering a rather dry topic, I really appreciated the humor included. I will mention that I believe in welcoming opposing viewpoints, so the author’s borderline-insulting language wasn’t an issue for me, but readers who are sensitive to criticism of religion, Donald Trump, tradition, or sports culture may want to steer clear.
This book would be appropriate for adults, especially Americans. If you don’t mind harsh reality, strong opinions, and a healthy dose of philosophical quotations, you might enjoy this short read.
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