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Black Hawk Down Hardcover – Feb 10 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic; First Edition First Printing edition (Feb. 10 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871137380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871137388
  • Product Dimensions: 23.7 x 16 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 726 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (615 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #494,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Amazon

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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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
Mark Bowden has done an outstanding job of telling the story of the battle of Mogadishu. U.S. army rangers and delta forces were in Mogadishu trying to kill or capture Mohamed Farrah Aidid, a local warlord, leader of the Habr Gidr clan, who was preventing international relief agencies from properly distributing food in famine-decimated Somalia.
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.
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By A Customer on July 2 2004
Format: Paperback
Mark Bowden's story is an excellent retelling of the events of that day in 1993, but it only tells half the story. I don't think he even realized he was telling only part, even though he did try to get Somali voices in it. The real other half, which he does not seem to have a clue about, is that the whole event was a trap, an ambush coordinated and managed by Bin Laden and the Islamists in Sudan and Iran (see Y. Bodansky's book, Bin Laden, The Man Who Declared War on America). Isn't the author even curious about how, without any warning, all of these snipers and other armed individuals knew to be where the US soldiers were at that particular time? Mogadishu was and is a pretty lawless place, but even there I doubt that most areas have that many RPG launchers in one place all the time, just in case US soldiers drop in. The lack of adequate intelligence then and now, has led to the vulnerability of Western nations to terrorism. That and an unwillingness to admit that anyone could hate the US enough to ambush its soldiers, as well as putting hundreds of innocent civilians in the line of fire. Unfortunately, the US did not learn in Mogadishu, at the Khobar Towers, on the USS Cole, or even the WTC bombing in 1993. But it did learn on Sept. 11th.
This book is very good in many ways. But the complete story of these events in Mogadishu has yet to be told.
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Format: Paperback
What a fascinating and gripping account of modern urban combat! Bowden has written an excellent narrative of the ferocious events in Mogadishu on 3-4 October 1993. I would reccommend this book to any student of history, political science, or military studies--especially soldiers in need of an understanding of how, when even minute mistakes are made in planning, terrible things can happen to deter a unit's mission. One crticism is that Bowden should have shied from the political critique in his Epilogue. Since his book focused on the Rangers' and D-boys' combat experience, that's what he should have discussed. It seems that the political implications leading to US / UN involvement in Somalia were an afterthought and Bowden does a much better job focusing on the stories of the individuals involved. Overall, however, this is a great read and a fascinating testament to the courage, bravery, and devotion to each other shown by those who participated in the terrible Bakara Market Battle.
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Format: Paperback
"Black Hawk Down" by Mark Bowden was one of the best war book that I have read. The story is a true story about 500 American soilders and Marines who go to Somalia(Which is located in east Africa) to bring food to all the starving people but War Lord Mohammed Farid Aidid siezes control of the ports where the Americans are giving the food to the people. Mohammed is taking the food to his army. The Americans come and try to arrest some of Mohammed's top Officers. Everything was going as planned. They were ready to transport the prisoners until Wolcott Black Hawk was shot downand 100 American soldiers were pinned down against 1000 angry Somalians. They set up a perimitor around the crash site untill Mike Durrant Black Hawk was hit and they had two blawk hawks in the city and now the whole city is against them. If you want to hear more you should read this book. This is a good book for anybody who likes true storys or war books. Personally, I think it was the best war book I have ever read.
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