Book Review: Where Mercy is Shown, Mercy is Given by Duane “Dog” ChapmanPosted: June 21, 2013
I love Dog the Bounty Hunter. For those unfamiliar with the show, it follows Dog AKA Duane Chapman, a bounty hunter in the states as he tracks down various people who are trying to jump bail. Dog and his team, which mainly consists of family members track down their fugitives and nab them, before Dog, an ex-con himself sits them down in the back of the car and gives them a talk about how they still have a chance to turn their life around and make something of themselves.
It’s this that is one of the show’s best selling points, Dog’s belief in second chances and compassion for his charges. It gives the show an edge over those police documentaries where the crims are treated as scum and/or idiots.
It’s why my youngest sister also loves this show as it chimes with her Christian beliefs, something that Dog shares with her. I’m fairly sure that this is why she brought me the book, as part of my family’s ongoing attempts to bring me back to the fold.
Some might not like the idea of Christians trying to convince a non-believer to rediscover his faith, but I’m fine with it, most of the time. Sure, it gets annoying sometimes, but I understand that it’s coming from a place of love and concern for me, even if I disagree with them. And it goes both ways, I’m still trying to get my sister to give comics a chance.
While I like the message of second chances and Dog’s pep talks, I’d be lying if I said that was the only reason I like the show. A large part of the reason I love the show is Dog himself, he’s always reminds me of the wrestlers I watched as a kid- the big blonde mane, the swaggering confidence, referring to himself in the third person and the use of the phrase “brother”. He’s like a cartoon character come alive, and while he verges on the ridiculous at times he seems to genuinely have his heart in the right place.
I also have a bit of a guilty crush on Dog’s missus, the loud and slightly scary Beth.
This is Dog’s second autobiography, and deals with his life after the show started. It deals with the pressures of fame and the effect on Dog and his family’s life, including the controversy that erupted when Dog was recorded speaking to his son on the phone using the N word in connection to his son’s girlfriend.
This event and the media storm afterwards are dealt with during the book, and to his credit Chapman seems to have repented. The phone call was a set up, but the use of the word is still wrong, but Chapman explains through his background and the people he knows that it was largely ignorance that made him use the word, and it’s clear that he’s not a racist. If anything, Dog highlights an aspect of society often ignored in the racism debate- it’s a lack of education that means he used the word. After becoming aware of the impact and it’s effect on others, Dog seems truly repentant and takes full responsibility, and his comeback trail and apology tour feel genuine.
The ridiculousness creeps in at times, and Dog is extremely confident and not afraid of blowing his own trumpet, but he never shies away from his past mistakes. He’s an interesting and at times amusing narrator, and some of the stories he tells are an interesting insight into the world of a bounty hunter. That being said, his grandstanding does get a little tiresome in places and his writing is fairly simple.
Dog’s religious views are often front and centre, but it’s more about forgiveness, second chances and being willing to put the effort in to turning your life around, and it never feels like he’s insisting everyone goes to church and stuff, it’s more of a personal kind of faith.
I didn’t always agree with Dog’s politics or ideas for fixing societal problems, but the book still makes for a pretty interesting read.
Verdict: Dog’s got his flaws as a writer, and his religious views might grate for some, but it’s mainly quite a good look at fame, crime and one man’s views on redemption and justice. Moving in places and quite fun in others, a fairly decent read. 5/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.