“What is your next book going to be about?”
Without fail when I read to audiences in bookstores, when I’m interviewed on radio and TV about my work, even when I’m introduced in a purely social setting a an author, that question comes up. It’s as predictable as migrating Monarchs.
The first lines grabbed me. The rest of the introduction almost lost me. Lauffer answers the question at a book reading with a one-liner to break up the tension and get a laugh: “That’s why my next book is going to be about butterflies and flowers.”
I was expecting a story about butterflies, not about veterans disaffected with the Iraq war. I almost put the book down; but I’m glad I continued because it is a fascinating read.
Peter Lauffer is not a butterfly aficionado, he’s not a part of that dangerous world. He’s a journalist seeking a story. That isn’t bad but it does set this book off from a book like Of a Feather which is a book about birding written by a birder. Dangerous World is not an insider’s book but an outsider’s book and that definitely affects the way the story takes shape. More, it affects what kind of story it tells. It’s not that Lauffer doesn’t care about butterflies; but he’s more interested in the stories of the people who are obsessed with butterflies. The butterflies are a framework, a pretext around which to build a book.
It makes for a good book. Plenty of drama and many interesting personalities. I learned a lot about butterflies too. But there are many tangents which get a bit far afield from what I was expecting. Sometimes butterflies themselves take a backseat to other elements of the story.
I was a bit annoyed about the chapter where Lauffer goes head to head with the creationist. It’s not that I agree with creationism; but the way Lauffer framed the encounter it seemed as if he were equating belief in God to belief in creationsim and he came off as rather dismissive of all people of faith. It felt more as if he was setting up a straw man to knock down an idea than really engaging in an open-ended discussion. That said, he was at least respectful of the man as a person and enjoyed his company even while dismissing his faith.
One not of caution: that this is not really a kid-friendly book. It touches on mature subject matter and quotes people who use some coarse language. Parental discretion is definitely advised.