Black Hawk Down Hardcover – Feb 10 1999
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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 Defense 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 defense 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 nonfiction novel, a lively page-turner that will make readers feel like they're standing beside the embattled troops. This will quickly be realized as a modern military classic. --John J. Miller
From Publishers Weekly
This is military writing at its breathless best. Bowden (Bringing the Heat) has used his journalistic skills to find and interview key participants on both sides of the October 1993 raid into the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia, a raid that quickly became the most intensive close combat Americans have engaged in since the Vietnam War. But Bowden's gripping narrative of the fighting is only a framework for an examination of the internal dynamics of America's elite forces and a critique of the philosophy of sending such high-tech units into combat with minimal support. He sees the Mogadishu engagement as a portent of a disturbing future. The soldiers' mission was to seize two lieutenants of a powerful Somali warlord. Despite all their preparation and training, the mission unraveled and they found themselves fighting ad hoc battles in ad hoc groups. Eschewing the post facto rationalization that characterizes so much military journalism, Bowden presents snapshots of the chaos at the heart of combat. On page after page, in vignette after vignette, he reminds us that war is about breaking things and killing people. In Mogadishu that day, there was no room for elaborate rules of engagement. In the end, it was a task force of unglamorous "straight-leg" infantry that saved the trapped raiders. Did the U.S. err by creating elite forces that are too small to sustain the attrition of modern combat? That's one of the key questions Bowden raises in a gripping account of combat that merits thoughtful reading by anyone concerned with the future course of the country's military strategy and its relationship to foreign policy.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Trying to pluck one well-hidden person from the midst of a very sympathetic populace is not so easy, as we learned then and have re-learned in the case of Ossama bin Ladin. The U.S. began to settle for picking off top Aidid aids.
This battle bagan when U.S. forces learned that two Aidid lieutenants were meeting in a building near the center of the Aidid-controlled section of Mogadishu. The plan called for Delta forces to take the building and capture the men, for army rangers to secure the corners of the block containing the target building, and for black Hawk helicopters to provide overhead cover for the rangers.
It was a reasonably good plan, but it had one very serious weakness. It turned out that the Black Hawks were very vulnerable to fire from rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), a cheap and reliable Soviet made weapons system. RPGs are as common as dirt in third world countries, and Aidid's forces had plenty of them. Two of the Black Hawks were shot down by RPG fire, and two more were damaged so badly that they had to crash land back at the U.S. base. In trying to retrieve the downed Black Hawk pilots and crews (or their bodies), the rangers and Delta forces got shot to hell by an extremely hostile city full of AK-47-toting Somalis.
It is an amazing story, well told by Mark Bowden. Part of the irony and horror of the situation is that we were only trying to help, we were only trying to do good.Read more ›
This book is very good in many ways. But the complete story of these events in Mogadishu has yet to be told.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a story of futility and bravery. Unfortunately it included indiscriminate killing of civilians, which happens in war.
The detail in this book sometimes weighs down the reading. It's a "study" of this famous engagement suffered by the American military in Somalia. Read morePublished on Sept. 24 2013 by David R. Foster
This book is fantastic. It is well written and is one of the greatest pieces of war that I've ever read. Recommended.Published on Sept. 3 2012 by CAMBOT
This book truly proves that war is no game. Where fear is always on the move.
The book was a powerful aspect of the men who died in Somalia, carfully scripted and studied... Read more
I first hear about this book years ago when someone suggested it on tv. But I did not pay it any attention until I saw the movie. Read morePublished on July 8 2004 by Everett Littles
Black Hawk Down is about the battle on October 3rd, 1993 in Somalia. I won't reveal anything, because I think you should read this wonderful book for yourself. Read morePublished on June 20 2004