I wasn’t going to mention this book. I now try to only review books that I find interesting and that I might like to be reminded of in the future. I thought nobody wants to hear about this depressing work and I really didn’t have anything interesting to say about it. But ultimately I did find something interesting about it.

More than half of Americans are rather horrified with the impending regime change and the rest I can’t speak for because I don’t know any of them personally. The country does seem to be divided. And that’s where this book, Dark Money by Jane Mayer went from mildly interesting to quite interesting in a meta kind of way.

The subtitle of the book is "The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right". And really the book could be summarized with the sentence, "Billionaires behind the rise of the radical right." Really, that’s all you need to know summarized perfectly well in eight words. As awful as this topic is, this book actually gives a reason for optimism and hope. Sort of.

I went to Amazon to see how this book was doing and I expected it to be about a 45/55 good/bad split and just like all congressional votes, down party lines. But I was shocked and delighted to find out that if there is one thing Americans agree on it is that this is a good book! I was astounded. Take a look at this astonishing high rating.

Verified Purchases

★★★★★ 891 ★★★★ 121 ★★★ 20 ★★ 5 ★ 18
Click me to toggle.

I was compelled to write some little Javascript function to show a nice comparison between verified and unverified Amazon reviews. I got the book from the library of course, but I get the feeling that a lot of people who didn’t read the book came to write negative reviews. Even still, this is book is freakishly well regarded.

To understand this better I wanted learn more about the few people who didn’t like it. I went ahead and classified all of the verified reviews that received either one or two stars.

9 Partisan 9 WTF 4 Style 1 Valence

The first category I call "partisan" and these seem to be knee-jerk members of what the book’s subtitle called "the radical right". Go ahead and suffer reading all of these; I found it kind of entertaining and amusing. These are definitely some edge of the bell curve morons but isn’t it uplifting how few of them there are?

Amazon customer ★
It seems a book like this should be more apolitical. The story seems
half told. There must be more when considering the political system.
Disappointing ★
Very slanted view. It also uses inflammatory language. Was hoping to
read an objective book on the flow of political funds but was very
One Star ★
Prefer books that are more objective about their subject matter.
Left Wing Propoganda ★
I couldn't continue reading after page 7...if you want any truth about
"dark money", don't read this. She just points fingers at the
Republican Party and their corruption, completely ignoring all that is
the Democratic Party with their corruptions/ bribery/ agenda/ elite
power. She focuses on the Koch Family; how could you ignore the
Rothschild's, Morgan's, Rockefeller's, or even George Soros?? I'm
upset. I bought this seeking truth, but instead it's nothing more than
left wing propaganda disguising itself as a "whistleblower" book.
Aweful ★
Propaganda... I am not a big fan of the Koch Brothers, but this gal is
over the top. She wants to guide the reader and influence, versus
inform. Radical, Extremist. Abuser, over and over... She takes things
out of historical perspective and inflicts her own interpretation of
the facts.
Too biased. ★
Ugh. Too one-sided. I prefer a discussion rather than a rant.
Pretty annoying. ★ ★
Seems to be a promotional piece for the democratic party. I fully
admit that a lot of the guys she lists are questionable characters at
best, but her relentless (and embarrassing) promotion of the left gets
annoying...very quickly. I was looking for something less emotional
and much more about the facts.
Extremely one-sided. The Democrats/Liberals have their private funders, … ★ ★
Extremely one-sided. The Democrats/Liberals have their private
funders, too. Mayer convienently overlooks this truth, and targets
only the wealthy who support conservative causes. In the few mentions
of Soros, and others, who finance the Clintons, Mayer excuses their
surreptitious monied plots as being "good for the country." HAHHAA
Very poorly written book ★ ★
Extremely wordy, everything could have been written as effectively
with half the word. Very biased, you'd think the Republicans were the
only ones playing the game, one mention of George Soros, no mention of
Service Employees International Union.

Just for the record, so you know why I call these people morons, let me show you how partisan it really was by quoting from the book a bit.

Page 321 of Dark Money

The audience cheered. The problem, though, was that no matter how keenly Obama wanted to address economic inequality, he was going to have to turn to his party’s own billionaires and multimillionaires for help. Soon, in fact, Obama would set a record for the number of fund-raisers attended by an incumbent president.

Page 323 of Dark Money

In an interview on CNN, [Bill Clinton] said, "I don’t think we ought to get into the position where we say this is bad work—this is good work." From 2006 until 2009, Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the former president, worked as an associate at Avenue Capital Group, a $14 billion private equity and hedge fund firm. Marc Lasry, co-founder of Avenue Capital, was a major Clinton supporter as well as a $1 million investor in a fund managed by the Clinton’s son-in-law, Marc Mezvinsky. The Clinton administration had been rife with Wall Street tycoons. Now, as the Obama administration was teeing up Romney’s rapacious business record as his key disqualification, [Bill] Clinton summarily announced that Romney’s "sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold."

In response, the Obama campaign tailored its message more carefully. For the most part, rather than hammering Romney’s wealth directly, it relied on sly symbolism to address the touchy issue of class. "There was too much blowback, so we used cues," says Margolis. "We showed him standing next to Trump’s private jet."

The next species of negative reviews I call "WTF". Just have a look and you’ll see what I mean. Remember, these are all one or two star reviews, and to be clear, out of five where five is good and one is bad. One is bad; five is good. Got it? Of course you do. Check it out. These are also quite entertaining.

One Star ★
enjoyed it very much
Audio by mistake. ★
I am sorry, but I can not review as I accidentally hit audio and I
wanted the book. I would like to return unopened in exchange for the
One Star ★
excellent book and speed of delivery was surprising...
Eye opening. ★
Very educational. Always knew there was big $$ but this book certainly
gave me some eye opening facts. Interesting because it is what is
happening now and I recognize names and organizational names.
bad reader ★
teh reader sounds so bored you will fall asleep
One Star ★
Excellent. A must read.
Binder broke ★
Opened the book and the binder broke!! I am sure the book will be
great but it's disappointing to spend this much money on a hardcover
book and it's so cheaply made.
One Star ★
Bought the book or even really read. ★
I have ordered the book and will write a review after I read it. I was
most interested in the lack of verified purchases in the 1 reviews. I
always read the negative reviews first but was particularly interested
in the reviews again by folks who obviously have not read the book and
all say the same thing. Is there a group of people called upon to
write these things or that get their "thoughts" from the same place?

All righty then. Moving on.

The next category of poor reviews for this book related to style. To a certain extent I sympathize with some of this sentiment.

One Star ★
One Star ★
So boring!!!
One Star ★
Two Stars ★ ★
Written like a textbook.

I must admit that this book is not by a skilled politician or poet aiming to stir emotions. The author was trying very, very hard to achieve a pretty serious level of dispassionate credible scholarship. Forty-five pages of fine print end notes is not how you write slanted inflammatory propaganda.

And finally we come to what I call a "valence" reaction. Interestingly this review perfectly captures my personal feelings about the book.

The minutia of evil ★ ★
This book is too depressing. Jane mayer is thorough in the extreme.
But who wants to read the minutia of evil people - who you already new
were evil

I’m glad I didn’t share this thought on Amazon and discourage people from reading and respecting this book with a two star vote. Really this is one of those modern problems with unsubtle social media. It reminds me of the 169,259 people who "liked" the US Holocaust Museum on Facebook.

Frankly I hated this book. It was really sickening. But in a five star first class kind of way. I can somewhat handle contemplating nuclear weapons, but thinking about how many Americans needed to be fooled or complicit to get to the presidential and congressional situation we have today, I just can’t really think about it too much. But despite that situation, my Amazon review audit of this high quality book is a cause for optimism even if the book’s material is not. The country has been harried into a terrible situation by the bluster of political influence bought with truly stupendous amounts of money. It is clear to me, however, that a huge and satisfying percent of Americans aren’t delighted that billionaires are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to bend and erode government to enrich themselves even more. After the recent election, that was a pleasant surprise.

We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.

— Louis Brandeis