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Black Hawk Down [Paperback]

Mark Bowden
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 July 2000

Already winning acclaim as one of the best accounts of combat ever written, Black Hawk Down is a minute-by-minute, heart-stopping account of the 1993 raid on Mogadishu, Somalia. Late in the afternoon of Sunday, October 3 1993, 140 elite US Soldiers abseiled from helicopters into a teeming market neighbourhood in the heart of the city. Their mission was to abduct two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord and return to base. It was supposed to take them about an hour.

Instead, they were pinned down through a long and terrible night in a hostile city, fighting for their lives against thousands of heavily armed Somalis. Two of their high-tech helicopters were shot out of the sky. When the unit was rescued the following morning, eighteen American soldiers were dead and more than seventy badly injured. The Somali toll was far worse - more than five hundred killed and over a thousand injured.

Authoritative, gripping, and insightful, Black Hawk Down is destined to become a classic of war reporting. It is already the most accurate, detailed account of modern combat ever written.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Corgi; New Ed edition (6 July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552999652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552999656
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 3.7 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Journalist Mark Bowden delivers a strikingly detailed account of the 1993 nightmare operation in Mogadishu that left 18 American soldiers dead and many more wounded. This early foreign-policy disaster for the Clinton administration led to the resignation of Secretary of Defence Les Aspin and a total troop withdrawal from Somalia. Bowden does not spend much time considering the context; instead he provides a moment-by-moment chronicle of what happened in the air and on the ground. His gritty narrative tells of how Rangers and elite Delta Force troops embarked on a mission to capture a pair of high-ranking deputies to warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid only to find themselves surrounded in a hostile African city. Their high-tech MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters had been shot down and a number of other miscues left them trapped through the night. Bowden describes Mogadishu as a place of Mad Max-like anarchy-- implying strongly that there was never any peace for the supposed peacekeepers to keep. He makes full use of the defence bureaucracy's extensive paper trail--which includes official reports, investigations and even radio transcripts--to describe the combat with great accuracy, right down to the actual dialogue. He supplements this with hundreds of his own interviews, turning Black Hawk Down into a completely authentic non-fiction novel, a lively page-turner that will make readers feel like they're standing beside the embattled troops. This will quickly be realised as a modern military classic. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Rip-roaring stuff, with one of the most gruesome battlefield wound treatments ever committed to paper" (Maxim)

"One of the most electrifying, immediate and detailed accounts of a single battle every told... the whole 24-hour nightmare seems like it's happening to you" (Later)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
I'm not a big fan of war novels or films but escaping from this book is impossible once you read the first page. Mark Bowden focuses on a mission that was supposed to take just an hour but instead took 24 hours and cost many lives. This book drags you into the heart of the US battle against Somali warlords in Mogadishu and and pages fly past as quickly as the bullets within them.
Mark Bowden has clearly done his research for this book - highlighting both the grievances of the Somali people who felt persecuted by US involvement in their country and the terrors faced by the highly trained elite US Rangers and Delta Forces on the ground and in the air, for whom this battle went terribly wrong.
This battle of US technological might against Somali warlords and ordinary onlookers is especially potent given recent events, and I would strong encourage everyone to read it to gain a glimpse into the US psyche. I defy anyone to not thoroughly enjoy this book!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty damn good! 18 April 2001
By A Customer
I was initially dubious about his book. I'm not a big reader of military accounts, and was afraid that the book would just wind up being a chest beating epic for military fetishists. I must admit that I was pleasently surprised. The narrative spins off into many different stories of the different individuals involved in the fighting, and you find yourself quite absorbed by all of them. It also, to my surprise, isn't just about how the US Rangers and Delta's kicked everyones ass (hoo ha!) it talks of their disilusionment with the American foreign policy, talks of the tribal complexities of the situation they had been thrust into, and creates a solid base of characters as likable as those from any similar novel. But with the added bonus (?) of being true. Superbly researched, excitingly written, this a book you will find hard to put down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Hawk Down 20 Oct 2005
By A Customer
Having seen the movie, I thought it was great, left nothing to the imagination of the horror of the firefight that the Rangers and D-boys endured.The book on the other hand is way better. From the first page you get an insight into the feelings of the young soldiers and what a primative place the Mog was.
Mark Bowden is a very prolific writer, he is not a war correspondant or a military historian but his descriptive narration of what happened in Somalia on October 3 1993 leaves nothing to the imagination. He dosen't glorify war, he told it from the memories of the young men that were there.
For anyone who has seen the movie, it is well worth reading the book. And for anyone that wants to know more about the history of Somalia and the Battle of Mogadishu then this is the book you want to read.
Black Hawk Down is a modern classic. A book that you will not be able to put down
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Classic 20 Aug 2002
By Mr. Warren M. Fisher VINE VOICE
Capturing the ambiguous horror and kinetic poetry of war, Bowden's book is probably the definitive account of combat and the experience of the modern infantry soldier. The film version was good, but the book is even better. At once cautionary and celebatory, this reads better than any novel and sears itself into the soul. Shocking and deeply moving, this is a life-changing read of unsurpassed brilliance.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
An accurate and emotionally involving account of the political failure in Somalia, leading to the American troops getting sucked into the maelstrom of warlord politics, leading to an attempt to snatch one of them. When that mission went wrong, helicopter extraction led to two groups on the ground needing rescuing, leading in the end to several deaths. Mission creep, command, control and what happens when the plan goes wrong all well-recorded in a pretty well-written page-turner.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read 5 Mar 2002
I did not know of this book until the film was out. I saw the film first(which was amazing) and I decided to read the book. I found it more in depth than the film, and at first it was quite a difficult read. But once I had got into it I found it amazing, and really moving. It also educated me, as a true, honest book that was not written to send up the u.s rangers. I thought the fact that Bowden interviewed so many people to gather information to write this was really good, as it gives you more of an insight into what actually happened.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not rest until I'd finished it 7 July 2000
By A Customer
This is a brilliant and rivetting piece of soldier journalism. Not only is Bowden expert enough as a writer and historian to convey clearly the tactics and strategy of the operation but what makes this outstanding is that the viewpoint is nearly always the soldiers'. The author has somehow got his interviewee's to open their hearts and minds about what really went on, blood, guts and all. The result is that the reader feels as if they are right in the thick of it and in this sense it reminded me of the film Saving Private Ryan. I've read all the SAS "true stories" and this is up there with the best of them. Hoo-ahhhhh! If you don't know the story, just go straight into it and don't read the back cover.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars harrowing 11 Mar 2007
This book is based on a true story of the American Rangers and Delta Force's attempt in October 1993 to abduct two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord from the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia. There is also an award winning movie of the same name.

This book is not for the faint hearted and if it was a book of fiction you would feel it has gone over the top. However, it is a book of fact and was written with the full cooperation of those involved (although it does feel as though it is a fictional novel). The whole of the situation was filmed and recorded by a US spy plane and the writer has had access to all these recordings.

It is not an easy book to read simply because a lot of the book is descriptive and it is very difficult to remember who is where within the town in relation to each other (and remember all the characters involved). However, the book leaves nothing to the imagination. Some of the situations, horrors and injuries described can almost be felt and you can almost taste the blood. The book succeeds in viewing the situation through the eyes of the people involved and the pure fright, frustrations and determination.

Also, this is not a book from a US viewpoint where the good guys win through in the end (although technically the operation was a success as it achieved the goals set out). It is a warts and all view of what happened.

This book is harrowing. You will either love it or hate it but one thing's for certain - you will feel it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars But be aware that it is full of foul front-line language
A well documented account of a military disaster. But be aware that it is full of foul front-line language.
Published 17 days ago by PracticalUser
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Just like in description.
Published 1 month ago by Ioana Dumitrescu
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok read, but not as interesting as the pilots ...
Ok read, but not as interesting as the pilots account In the company of heroes, a little too repetitious and prone to naval gazing.
Published 2 months ago by duncan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant book
Published 3 months ago by max
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good read
Published 3 months ago by susan
4.0 out of 5 stars A fantastically detailed account
This is a fantastically details, forensically researched account of the loss of two US Black Hawk helicopters in the Battle of Mogadishu. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jim Ashton
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb account of this tragic episode
Having found this in a charity shop it looked worth the read. I can highly recommend this book for the following reasons. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Birolli
4.0 out of 5 stars BLACK HAWK SOMALIA
Good book. Factual account of the events in Somalia as described. Watched the film recently and decided the story was that interesting there must be a book the film was based on... Read more
Published 10 months ago by MR P BUCZKO
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Hawk Down
This book is well worth reading. Mark Bowden does not leave too much to the imagination and has certainly captivated my attention throughout.
Published 12 months ago by David Nice
4.0 out of 5 stars Back Hawk Down
An account of a Modern Warfare and how plans can go from being easy to execute to horrific in a few moments. I would recommend.
Published 12 months ago by peteswiftuk
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