Ever dreamed of changing the world? Daniel Simpson shows how not to do it.
His memoir charts a gonzo career at The New York Times. Ambitious and idealistic, he was hired to report on the Balkans but quit within months, freaked out by his editor s zeal for starting wars.
Disillusioned, he went native in Belgrade. Together with the charismatic G, who had appeared one night in lavish puffs of dope smoke, he decided to organize a Serbian version of Woodstock: a festival on an island in the Danube. Music could revolutionize the country. It was run by a wartime mafia, and most young people dreamed of leaving. But what if they made it Ibiza crossed with Glastonbury? To fund this transition, they hustled his contacts. But shady local businessmen had other ideas. Mr Big muscled in, and embroiled them with his henchmen. Why do good intentions go awry? With brutally honest humor, Daniel recounts his journey to the edge, and a desperate drug-fuelled quest for the truth.
A Rough Guide To The Dark Side is a real-life trip through Balkan organized crime. More irreverent than McMafia, it has the vicarious kicks of Mr Nice and Shantaram, plus the travelogue style of a Bill Bryson or Tony Hawks, but with added bile and an overdose of drugs.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
Simpson’s humorous, rollicking first-person story follows the young, principled, and ambitious New York Times foreign correspondent as he travels to the post-conflict Balkans […] Unlike Serbia’s neighbors, Simpson got off easy: He didn’t get executed nor was he sent to a concentration camp by his business partners. ~ Kenan Trebincevic, The Brooklyn Rail
Simpson, with journalistic page-turner brilliance, starts with the killer first line, "I never really meant to join the underworld. I fell in." […] Had I not sat down with the author and heard his story first-hand, I may have imagined his memoir was fantasy. It was not. […] A Rough Guide to the Dark Side tells his life in gripping staccato style. His dark side chronicles hallucinatory time passages through a hip-hop culture - evoked to sanction the retreat from himself and his outrageous actions. ~ Anita Venezia, Alive Magazine
Simpson was on a journey away from mainstream journalism, and he describes that rollicking and sometimes shocking voyage with considerable flair [...] In telling his story, he has found an ideal home for original, colourful and opinionated prose that would never have made the news wires of Reuters or the news pages of the New York Times. ~ Andrew Gray, The Herald
Reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson [...] a compelling critique of the media, international politics, and, ultimately, the author himself. An insightful and thoroughly enjoyable read. ~ Marc Schuster, Small Press Reviews
Simpson's reasons for quitting the Times are spelled out with immaculate skill [...] editors were hoodwinked into asking so many wrong questions and ordering up stories that - given their foolish premise - could only result in erroneous, misleading crap. He names names, too. These pages should be mined by historians. ~ Ivan Goldman, Red Room
Unlike most mainstream media journalists, Simpson is deeply introspective, constantly questioning the way he sees the world and himself. [...] A Rough Guide To The Dark Side is packed with the kind of uncontrived humour that will leave readers laughing out loud while wondering, Hang on, how did he do that? ~ Mat Ward, Green Left Weekly
One of A Rough Guide's strong points is that it doesn’t sugarcoat any details. [...] It's up to the individual reader to decide if Simpson's end goal of starting ECHO to revitalize Serbia's youth culture – and to prove to himself that he could live up to the challenge – justifies his exploitation of the mainstream media's power, while simultaneously condemning it. ~ Danielle Sottosanti, Souciant magazine
For more insights about the news world [...], you have to turn to someone with less celebrity and more knowledge of its real function. Someone such as Daniel Simpson, perhaps, who quit the New York Times and wrote a book about it. ~ Danny Schechter, Al Jazeera
A young and naive New York Times reporter abandons everything he has believed about the role of the media in Western society to run a music festival in Serbia. An uproarious story that has an important message. ~ Phillip Knightley, author of The First Casualty and twice named UK journalist of the year
Daniel Simpson took a courageous quest in pursuit of truth and found himself at a crossroad. A Rough Guide To The Dark Side is a telling memoir, which shows that while music has the power to change the world, it is the heart of the individual that truly makes a difference. ~ Michael Lang, co-producer of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, 1969
A Rough Guide to the Dark Side is a funny, angry and insightful indictment of modern media practice. Daniel Simpson shows us a remarkably dangerous world shaped by the fantasies of the elite and journalists who have embraced subservient fear, savage cost-cutting and institutional laziness. Simpsons writing demonstrates that we not only deserve better journalism, but that its still out there: observing, investigating and informing with humanity and passion. ~ A.L. Kennedy, writer and comedian; author of the Costa Prize-winning Day
Daniel Simpsons amazing book should be read by everyone who is interested in how the human side of this world really works -- which means EVERYONE! He uses humor as Shakespeare did - to lighten the load of a heavy, dark, and important story. ~ John Perkins, author of the bestselling Confessions of an Economic Hitman
The archetypal innocent abroad, Daniel Simpson thought he could help the locals. He dropped out of journalism to run a music festival in Serbia, imagining himself a jaundiced man of the world. But his project became a study in modern corruption, with a learning curve so steep it was more like a suicides screaming spiral. Witty and compassionate, yet merciless on himself, he tells a story thats a constant pleasure to read. ~ Michela Wrong, author of Its Our Turn to Eat. The Story of a Kenyan Whistleblower, short-listed for the Orwell Prize