Alternate Routes, Tim Powers. Apart from being cursed with the cover art from shit art Hell (nice one, Baen), this is another fine novel you’ve gotten me into, Powers. Taking place in the established Powersverse, complete with thought-out systems for the supernatural, the book is all about the freeways of LA and the spiritual current they generate, creating ghosts, and ghost roads, and linking LA to the Labyrinth of Greek myth. I wouldn’t put it up against Declare, but it’s a good book from a consummate writer, in an established groove.
An Intimate War, Mike Martin. This is an oral history of the conflict in Helmand, Afghanistan, based on the usual research, but also more than a hundred interviews with Helmandis about the conflict in their province, with a little establishing history, but picking up from 1978 and going all the way through to 2012. Particularly enlightening, especially given the recurring nature of how a group rises to dominance, and then is subverted to the point of helplessness, if not outright overthrown, and the self-destructive Western efforts to uproot ‘corruption’ and destroy the very patronage networks they had set about establishing to counter the Taliban. Absolutely excellent, and not particularly long.