The Three Battles of Wanat: And Other True Stories

Atlantic Monthly. Jan. 2016. 496p. ISBN 9780802124111. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780802190666. SOC SCI
Bowden, author of 12 books including the highly praised Black Hawk Down, demonstrates his versatility in this collection of lengthy magazine pieces, which appeared mostly in The Atlantic and Vanity Fair. Subjects range from war coverage and in-depth portraits of political leaders to sports figures and fascinating people doing interesting things. The gripping titular article describes the aftermath of the death of a young lieutenant in Afghanistan and the human cost of war. Another of the 23 contributions introduces readers to Judy Clarke, the tenacious public defender whose clients included Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers; and Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. Other revealing stories feature "Just Joe Biden," the indispensable vice president who remains a Delaware homeboy, and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, who appears to be the right leader for his country.
VERDICT Although none of these pieces is from before 2006, a few feel dated. However, this does not detract from Bowden's eloquence and his art of drawing the reader into the stories. This collection is a delight for those who enjoy literate yet down-to-earth nonfiction. [See Prepub Alert, 7/20/15.]
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