This book in its first fifty pages tells you everything you didn't want to believe about how the giants of western news media follow the powers that be, behaving not like feverish news hounds but like slavish lap dogs, following the trail set for them by their political masters without questioning the course they're on. The author concentrates on his previous employer, the New York Times, which views itself not as a searchlight on power, but as the public expression of the US power. PR for the powerful, you might say. Nice.
The author's own searchlight could equally be applied to many other western media miscreants, but he then turns it on himself, and is equally forthright. He openly admits his own societal sins, most specifically his search for drugs and consumption of them, their effects and his experiences in general, against the backdrop of a search to become the man he wants to be by taking on a new life path.
In taking this road, he is helped by the prospect dangled before him by a much-travelled new acquaintance (from Canada to London's Shepherd's Bush Green) that they create a cathartic rock festival in Serbia. This leads him to the third 'dark side' of his book, the hidden cronyism, money-making and manipulation of Serbia's post-Milosevic oligarchs, institutions and men of influence behind the scenes in the noughties. Much of what he describes could apply to many countries in Eastern Europe. He sees and feels things at first hand, but the insight into these galling experiences comes mainly through the eyes of his new Serbian business partner (who views such happenings in Serbia as the natural result and expression in European micro-scale of all that the western Powers have done in and outside Serbia.
So whether you want to know how you yourself or the western media can take the wrong trail in life, this is a book of its time and about its time, a recommended read for anyone wanting a realistic guide to how things work and where the dark side starts - whether in Serbia or the New York Times.