Cover image for Road work : among tyrants, heroes, rogues, and beasts
Road work : among tyrants, heroes, rogues, and beasts
Bowden, Mark, 1951-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, 2004.
Physical Description:
viii, 467 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN4874.B6297 A25 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Over two decades, Mark Bowden, author of the #1 New York Times best seller Black Hawk Down and the critically acclaimed Killing Pablo, has solidified his reputation as a "master of narrative journalism" (The New York Times Book Review). An incisive reporter and gripping, evocative writer, Bowden is capable of putting us in the heat of a story in a way few others can. Now Road Work offers the best of Bowden's award-winning nonfiction, from his breakout stories for The Philadelphia Inquirer, where he was a reporter for twenty-four years, to his highly talked-about pieces in The Atlantic on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Whether traveling to a small town in Rhode Island where one of the larges cocaine rings in history is uncovered, or to the Luangwa Valley in Zambia where a bold team of antipoachers fights to save the fate of the black rhino, Mark Bowden takes us down rough roads previously off-limits. "The Dark Art of Interrogation" exposes the top-secret world of Guantanamo Bay, offering an insider's view of the controversial, often shocking ways America is fighting its war on terror. "Tales of a Tyrant" takes us into the world of Saddam Hussein, shedding new and dramatic light on his life, his reign of terror, and his days on the run. "The Kabul-Ki Dance" brings us the high-adrenaline world of the 391st Fighter Squadron of Idaho as it wages the air war over Afghanistan and shows what happens when raw emotion goes up against the clinical precision of modern war. Whether they are everyday people, mad scientists, or celebrities such as Al Sharpton and Norman Mailer, Road Work invites us into the private and public lives of unique, fascinating Americans. "The Game of a Lifetime" and "The Great Potato Pick-Off Play," in which a struggling minor leaguer dreams up a bizarre and hilarious on-field prank, display the uniquely humanistic brand of sports reporting that won acclaim for Bowden's seminal football book Bringing the Heat. And "Cops on the Take" gives us the intelligent and riveting true-crime writing that the Tucson Citizen has described as "true reporting at its very best," telling - in trademark novelistic detail - the incredible story of a group of high-ranking officers who turned the police department of a major city into a profit-making criminal enterprise. Powerfully gripping, elucidating, sometimes even wryly humorous, Road Work shows why Mark Bowden has won a reputation as a nonfiction writer of the very highest caliber. Book jacket.

Author Notes

Mark Bowden has been a reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty-one years and has won many national awards for his writing. He is the author of "Black Hawk Down," "Bringing the Heat," "Doctor Dealer", "Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw." and, more recently, The Finish: "The Killing of Osama bin Laden", and Hue 1968: A Turning point of the American war in Vietnam. Bowden has also written for Talk, Men's Journal, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone and Playboy, among others.

The original series of articles which became "Black Hawk Down" earned him the Overseas Press Club's Hal Boyle Award, and made him a finalist for the NBA in nonfiction.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo, here gathers 19 of his nonfiction periodical pieces, dating as far back as 1980 and as recently as June 2004, culled from the pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Salon, and Sports Illustrated. Citing his instinct to zig when everyone else zags, Bowden offers a solidly written and varied collection, including an absorbing study of Saddam Hussein's rise to power, a look at the century-old high-school football rivalry between two St. Louis suburbs (Webster Groves and Kirkwood), a profile of Reverend Al Sharpton on the 2004 primary trail, a paean to the Great Potato Pickoff Play of 1987, a long Inquirer piece on corruption within the Philadelphia police department, a profile of Philadelphia Eagles center Hank Fraley, and Bowden's account of Zambia's illegal rhino trade. Excellent investigative reporting. --Alan Moores Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the bestselling Black Hawk Down, journalist Bowden showed a gift for taking a story and exploring its various avenues, resulting in layered, rich storytelling. Although he doesn't have quite enough room to stretch out with this collection of his short reportage pieces, he still delivers fascinating, and sometimes outsized, slices of life. Bowden has deep affection for detail and character over breaking news or larger issues. For this anthology, he culls mainly from assignments for the Atlantic Monthly, presenting a strong, balanced collection that highlights his formidable writing strengths while accenting his interests. Standout articles include a post-9/11 profile of Saddam Hussein that illuminates the man through details like his wine preference, childhood tattoo and immaculate desk. Other politically inspired pieces, inclusing ones about Bowden's time among American pilots in Afghanistan and his days on the campaign trail with Al Sharpton, are equally fine. But his range isn't confined to politics; Bowden explores high school football, a zoo-dwelling gorilla and the Rocky statue in South Philadelphia. Perhaps the greatest indicator of what makes Bowden so compelling is that an ad for udder supports in a farm publication sends him into the realm of animal husbandry to answer the question, "[W]hy on Earth would a cow need a bra?" (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Once a football beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bowden became an eclectic reporting star with the publication of Black Hawk Down, his you-are-there account of the disastrous 1993 firefight in Somalia that defined the failure of the U.S. humanitarian intervention in that land's horrific civil war. This tome nicely represents his work from the early 1980s to last year. The opening pieces-a profile of Saddam Hussein written shortly before the second Iraq war and a consideration of coercion's edge over to torture in the handling of Al Qaeda detainees-seem destined to be surpassingly valid. While Bowden briefly introduces each article, there is evidence of complacent editing; for instance, it is difficult to believe that he had no time to venture a few words on whether he would alter his essentially supportive gloss on extreme interrogation since disclosure of the Abu Ghraib scandal. Elsewhere, readers will wonder whether Central Falls, RI, stayed heroin-free and whether the Philadelphia Zoo rebuilt the primate house as planned. However, despite its frustrating lack of follow-up, this is a great sample of a politically mainstream but adventurous writer. Recommended for public libraries.-Scott H. Silverman, Bryn Mawr Coll. Lib, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
Tales of the Tyrantp. 8
The Kabul-Ki Dancep. 46
The Dark Art of Interrogationp. 71
Pompadour with a Monkey Wrenchp. 111
Gore's Stiff Competitionp. 140
The Game of a Lifetimep. 154
The Unkindest Cutp. 170
Schmidt's Misfortunep. 186
The Great Potato Pick-Off Playp. 209
A Beautiful Mindp. 220
Rhinop. 233
The Urban Gorillap. 256
Breeding the Better Cowp. 275
Battling "The Baddies" in Fantasylandp. 285
Fight to the Finishp. 302
Fight with Fame (Norman Mailer)p. 323
The Fight Rocky Lostp. 336
Mayberry Vicep. 349
Cops on the Takep. 369
Acknowledgmentsp. 469