Black Hawk Down Paperback – 6 Jul 2000
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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)
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
Having said that, Bowden's strength is also his weakness. The journalistic style of the book makes it easy to read and fast paced - essential in a book of this nature. However, his need to include all stories from all participants makes the book confusing, and it is difficult to keep track of all the personnel involved. As a result, the book jumps about from place to place and from point in time to point in time, with a lot of "flashback" style documents of past personal histories. Also, there were points where despite his valiant attempts at impartiality, I could not help but feel that Bowden was writing a little to his audience.
All in all, though, a good read that kept me gripped.
The film does any excellent job of making you feel you are in the middle of the action, but nothing in terms of identifying the characters, who was who, who was making decisions and why and what motivated the actions (on both sides).
The book does an excellent job of filling in those holes and makes the film well worth revisiting after a read, too.
Obviously, it is slightly let down (hence 4 not 5 stars) by the fact that everything is dependant upon people's memory and it's hard to believe that memory could be perfect in such a situation.
The author does, however, recognise this and explains his attempts to piece situations together from multiple sources. He also deserves praise for preventing the book from being either an anti-American diatribe OR a gung-ho Good (The Rangers) Vs Evil (The Somalis), by presenting both sides with remarkable even-handedness.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Only for military buffs really, way too much very confusing detail for civilians like me, although did give very clear idea of horrors of modern warfare. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Mrs. Elizabeth Robinson
Great book,the author did a good job in telling this story.
It is tragic and horrific as you would expect of any war,but I am afraid those feelings come to light only when us... Read more
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