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Road Work: Among Tyrants, Heroes, Rogues, and Beasts Paperback – March 28, 2006
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"Bowden’s range is broad. . . . With heartbreaking detail, [these pieces] reveal his most effective reporting tool: empathy." —Entertainment Weekly (A)
"Mark Bowden is a master of narrative journalism." —The New York Times Book Review
From the Back Cover
"Bowdens range is broad. . . . With heartbreaking detail, [these pieces] reveal his most effective reporting tool: empathy."
Entertainment Weekly (A)
"Mark Bowden is a master of narrative journalism."
The New York Times Book Review
Top customer reviews
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=== The Good Stuff ===
* As always, Bowden has got me interested in things I didn't even know I was interested in. For example, I was never really all that interested in anti-poaching enforcement by African game wardens. But after riding along with Abraham Phiri and men in the Zambian outback, I have a new respect and interest in the topic. And I certainly wouldn't want to run into Abraham on a dark savanna if I was doing something wrong.
* Bowden has a remarkable talent for capturing the story, and the story behind the story. For example, one of the essays in the book is about a corruption probe in the Philadelphia police department involving brothels and after-hours bars. The clubs were making payoffs to be allowed to operate without police enforcement actions against them. After the expected story about the capture and punishment of the guilty officers, Bowden takes a few paragraphs to point out that perhaps the net effect of the corruption wasn't all that bad. The clubs were monitored, stayed out of trouble, didn't rip off customers, and provided a service that at least some portion of the citizenry wanted. I always enjoy when an author points out the politically incorrect elephant in the room.
* Most important, Bowden is an excellent story-teller. He can arrange a complicated and complex plot into a well-sequenced narrative that is easy to read and comprehend. He captures just enough of the characters to be interesting, without dragging us to meet everyone's Aunt Martha. In some of the stories, his humor and sarcasm come through, although to be honest, I prefer his more serious voice.
=== The Not-So-Good Stuff ===
* As with any anthology, there are just going to be things I am not interested in. For many of these, the writing was still good enough to hold my attention, but I will admit to giving up on his essay about Norman Mailer.
* Depending on your age, some of the work might seem "ancient". Some of the stories are from the 1980s. I was alive and reasonably cognizant during this time, so I appreciated the trip down memory lane, but younger readers may be put off. I honestly believe that the writing passes the test-of-time, and is still relevant today, but that is a personal preference.
=== Summary ===
An excellent anthology from one of my favorite authors. If you are a Mark Bowden fan, by all means give this book a read. If you have never read any of his work, this is as good a place to start as any. If you have seen "Black Hawk Down", "Guests of the Ayatollah", or any of the "Killing Pablo" documentaries, these are all based on Bowden's work.