Books: Road Work - Among Tyrants, Heroes, Rogues, and Beasts
Mark Bowden is best know for his longer nonfiction books ("Black Hawk Down," "Killing Pablo," "Guests of the Ayatollah"), but his article-length nonfiction is good, too. "Road Work" is an anthology of some of Bowden's articles, with topics ranging from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to lighter fare like an examination of cattle husbandry (Note: You can find most of these articles online here, but I much prefer to have them in print - plus I managed to find the book in a bargain bin for four bucks).
My favorite articles are all in the front of the book. "Tales of the Tyrant" is a look inside the world of the late Saddam Hussein; it's a lavish prison of palaces and paranoia, where the might of the dictator can literally distort reality - at least for his subjects. "The Kabul-ki Dance" takes us into the early days of the air war over Afghanistan, where American fighter pilots battle fatigue and boredom as much as the enemy. Finally, "The Dark Art of Interrogation" details some of the "coercive" techniques that have gained so much notoriety in the press these days, and how they are both like and unlike "torture."