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About as Dark as a bright summer's day.....
on 7 October 2013
I think the book's title is totally misleading. I mean how could you possibly classify a trip to Dallas or even to Iran for 3 or 4 days as dark! The author's wishful thinking maybe. If you want to read about real dark tourism, where the author goes through hell but lives to tell the tale with such verve that you can smell the dumps he's been to and sweat with him, try Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux or The Soccer War by Ryszard Kapuscinski for starters. This book is a million miles from either of those.
OK, with the title out of the way, I still enjoyed this book, or some of it at least. The piece on North Korea is insightful with a few good laughs (gets the balance right) and the Ukrainian trip is really well told too with a brilliantly told incident in a hotel lift in Kyiv. The opening Iranian yarn is terrible - packed with bloody awful stereo-typing and telling you nothing at all of any note about the place. The Dallas jaunt has a few notable moments, especially with security and I must admit, I'd like to go there for the same reasons as he did - the JFK assassination site. The piece on Cambodia lacks punch and sincerity, considering the scale of the massacres there. It all seems too easy and relaxed. Finally, he treats us to a little peep into Lebanon, his birth place and childhood home. Again though, fairly bland and un-educational, though he clearly enjoyed seeing the once-familiar after all these years.
To summarise, the title led me to expect something very different but the book is still worth a quick, light read once you realize it's just a friendly, risk-free jaunt to a few spots where you probably won't find too much English Beer or fish and chips (but that's about the extent of its darkness!)