Patrick Chaplin should be considered one of the most significant figures in the sport of darts. He also could be considered a very important contributor in the fields of social sciences, popular culture or cultural history. I don't know that I have to this point made this observation in writing, if not I should have.
I happen to believe that that which is commonly referred to as "pop" culture is an important way that we can view and understand ourselves as a society. And, upon that belief, it follows that those who record and interpret vernacular culture are essential to this social self-regard.
Before Dr. Chaplin began to publish on the subject, the generalist writer or journalists' standard approach to the sport of darts was one of satire or attempts at humor and, generally, a marked lack of scholarship.
Beginning with his doctoral dissertation - a study of the social history of darts in England - to his latest book, 180! Fascinating Darts Facts, Patrick Chaplin has near single handed, changed all that. He brings to the task a depth of scholarship and a superb writing talent that the sport has seldom witnessed in its entire history.
It appears that Chaplin intends to examine the sport of darts from every possible angle and to do so in a variety of ways designed to make it most accessible to the broadest population. He has so far succeeded with each effort, from co-authored books with famed darts shooters to a comprehensive guide to the sport tailored to the pub player and now a book of facts and fun all about the sport of darts.
"180! Fascinating Darts Facts" commences with a foreword by the legendary darts broadcaster, "Whispering" Sid Waddell, who sadly has since passed away.
The narrative then takes off with such ease as to be irresistible. The writing is achieved in brief bursts of prose organized in such a way as to keep even the most casual reader fully engaged.
As a technical observation, one of the most critical aspects of this kind of book is the organization of subject matter and personal vignettes, in my opinion this obligation is fulfilled admirably in 180! Fascinating Darts Facts.
The facts presented are indeed fascinating. As examples we are informed of the relationship between cribbage and darts scoring - and how Adrian Lewis got his nickname. Want to know why the bull is hung at five feet eight inches? It's in there (and it is not because Tommy Barrett was 5'8" tall).
Dr. Chaplin has fun with this book, and readers will too. There is the discussion of an inflatable dart board that was offered up at one time and the playing tips of an Amsterdam darts master are quoted - in Dutch.
"180! Fascinating Darts Facts" is an informative, lighthearted and (as billed) fascinating work that presents much of the multifaceted cultural and historical aspects of the sport of darts in the most generally accessible way possible - no footnotes or index, just effortless entertaining reading.