''I was a newspaper reporter because I wanted to write, and it was a place where you got paid to do it,'' writes Mark Bowden in the introduction to this collection of almost a quarter century of his journalism. That doesn't mean his writing is better than his reporting the Black Hawk Down author excels at both. With fascinating features on Norman Mailer, the war against terror, and even a Philadelphia Zoo gorilla, Bowden's range is broad. In the two standout stories, Bowden follows leukemia patients on a trip to Disney World and profiles a vivacious man whose bipolar disorder drives him to suicide. With heartbreaking detail, both pieces reveal Bowden's most effective reporting tool: empathy.