January 15, 2012

Review - Dispatches From Bitter America (Todd Starnes)

FOX News Radio reporter Todd Starnes is a self-professed “gun toting, chicken eating son of a Baptist” whose Dispatches from Bitter America is “a collection of stories from my travels across this country (and) conversations I’ve had with regular folks who have deep concerns about the direction we are going as a nation.”
In his award-winning, satire-meets-serious writing style, Starnes jumps headfirst into the current culture war, taking on the topics that are dear to every American: religion, health care, freedom, country music, barbeque, and so forth. Along the way, he shares exclusive interviews with political commentator Bill O’Reilly, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, cooking sensation Paula Deen, and pop singer Amy Grant, always hoping to go from bitter to better.

Clinging to your guns and religion? Apparently this makes you a bitter American. In his book Dispatches From Bitter America journalist Todd Starnes contemplates what his country is made of. The five things he names certainly feed the stereotype many have of America - country music, guns, barbecue, the military, and freedom. One thing seems to be missing, but only on first glance - religion.
Expecting an honest view on America and its people I soon realized that these "dispatches" are basically a collection of a collective rage against the current government, and ultimately it is all about religion, or rather Christianity. America as a Christian nation? Not any longer. Today the emphasis is on being "a nation of citizens bound by ideals and a set of values".
I'm not bitter and too European, I guess, to relate to most of the presented "bitterness" though there were a few things that I do agree on, eg that it's not the governments business to tell parents what to feed their children. Yet what disturbed me are the very randomly chosen examples and occurrences that were all too often facticiously exaggerated, generously saturated with sarcasm, and drenched in fear. Satire? Not quite. Serious writing? Not really. I realize a lot of Americans will relate to the content of his book, sometimes rightly so, but the overall presentation left a lot to be desired.
In short: More on the conservative side? You'll love this book. Liberal? Read at your own risk.

2/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


  1. What did you expect? "Fox News" says it all really. I wouldn't touch that book with a ten-foot pole. "Gun toting son of a baptist" - that description alone is enough to walk away from it.
    I am impressed that you finished it.

    1. Yep, I like a good challenge! Though in all truthfulness, when I requested the book I didn't see that bit about FOX. The I started reading and somehow it was like a bad traffic accident ... I couldn't look away!

    2. Rikki- that was my thought. Fox News wouldn't give you an honest or unbiased opinion at all!

  2. Books like this always takes sides, I guess it is inevitable, since it's all about politics and influencing the masses to take sides...

    1. When it comes to religion and politics it's always the same thing - people will either applaud or scoff at opinions (or books, for that matter).