on July 14, 2004
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. Yet we ended up getting 19 of our own boys killed and 70 others wounded, and killing perhaps (no one knows for sure) 500 Somalis. The moral to the story is that if you're trying to do good, send missionaries. The army is not a missionary force. The purpose of the army is to kill people, and it should never be deployed unless U.S. national security is implicated, which it was not in Somalia.
on July 2, 2004
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.
on May 21, 2004
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.
on May 13, 2004
"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.
on May 10, 2004
On October 4, 1993, America was rocked by the news that American Special Forces were ambushed in the Somali city of Mogadishu. And, as the television filled with images of dead American soldiers being dragged through the streets, people began to demand to know what happened. The administration of Bill Clinton was rocked, and reacted by quickly announcing that American forces would be pulled out of Somalia as quickly as possible. But, more than most, reporter Mark Bowden wanted to know what really happened in Mogadishu. This is the story of what happened.
On the afternoon of October 3, 1993, in a desperate attempt to capture two top aides of warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid, a small force of Rangers and Delta Force commandoes stormed into a house in Aidid's stronghold. However, very quickly things began to go wrong. When two of the Black Hawk helicopters (their pilots specially trained and equipped for night operations) were unexpectedly shot down, the American soldiers quickly found themselves surrounded by armed Somalis who were determined to bring the soldiers to battle and destroy them. As the American commander tried to round up support from Pakistani and Malaysian armored units, the American soldiers fought through the afternoon and through the night. When the fight was finally over, there were 18 Americans dead and 73 wounded, plus some 1,000 Somalis dead or wounded.
In this story, author Mark Bowden does an excellent job of taking the reader right into the firefight. This is not a modern Zulu (a 1964 movie of British soldiers fighting against Zulu warriors during the 19th century); this is not a story of heroes and villains. Instead, the author tells the story from both sides, showing the feelings and motivations of both sides, and showing modern combat with all of its horrors and uncertainties. Indeed, what surprised me the most was the profound contempt that the Delta Force "D-Boys" expressed for their Ranger comrades.
No, this is quite a story, one that has to be read to be understood. If you are interested in modern warfare, then I would say that you must read this book. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that this book will probably be long considered a classic of modern American literature.
on April 17, 2004
Writing about battles in a manner than makes the reader feel involved is more the genre of fiction than non-fiction. Mark Bowden accomplishes the extraordinarily difficult by accurately recounting the story of a brutal, desperate battle in a way that puts you right in the middle of the fight. The often overlooked battle of Mogadischu has been ignored or downplayed by many. It is to Bowden's great credit that he pulled back the curtain on this brave but ultimately futile action that many in the political sector were only too willing to keep hidden.
Bowden puts you in the helicopters beside the Rangers and Delta operators as they plunge into a routine mission gone terribly wrong. You sense the awful loss as comrades are killed or wounded and the helplessness of a small group of elite soldiers who are suddenly confronted by a guerrilla army of thousands in a dusty, dark, stinking pesthole on the Horn of Africa.
You share the bravery, loyalty and skill of these soldiers and you will weep over their loss. Even more troubling, you will recognize the utter waste when a vacillating and spineless political leadership abruptly yanks them out of Somalia on the verge of achieving the impossible goal - removal of 'General' Adid that the politicians had set in the first place.
That weakness of moral core was startling enough to give Osama bin Laden - present at the time in Somalia - the motivation to press his attack on the United States. The road to the attack on 9-11 begins on the Mogadishu Mile.
This is an important book from many points: to demonstrate the amazing character of the American soldier, to point out the ability of the US to carry out extremely difficult missions, and most of all to demonstrate the absolute necessity of having high level political backing for any commitment of military resources. Black Hawk Down has to be a part of any serious reader's library.
on April 8, 2004
This is a stunning, moving, fast-paced read, and I regret that I waited so long to read it. But now that I finally have, I can say it is one of the finest works on modern combat I've read. With admirable humility, Bowden dismisses his own capacity for military and strategic analysis, and this book isn't so much a book about why as it is who and where and what and when and how. It's an amazing narrative.
Bowden takes us into the world of Mogadishu (the "Mog"), where warlords struggled for control of the city and where mobs roved. His comparison to the Mad Max films is particularly evocative. Into that world were inserted teams of elite American soldiers: the shadowy Delta Force (D-Boys) and Rangers. At first things go moderately well, and they come within minutes of success. But once events take a turn for the worse, they do so rapidly, and the fog of war quickly engulfs the fight. Soon, two helicopters are down, and the soldiers are trapped in the city, left to fight off angry and armed mobs. They spend a night in the city before being rescued, but not before they took on harsh casualties.
I don't think I've ever read a book on military history that so often left me near tears. The devotion of these men, their courage and heroism (but they're still just men--or, most of them, just boys of nineteen, twenty, twenty-one), their sacrifice, the near rescues and close calls, the deaths, and finally the rescue--it's all highly emotional stuff. You root for them, know the cause was a noble one, and yet you're unbearably enraged by how these troops were used and abused by their nation. This is not an anti-war book, nor is it a patriotic celebration of the American soldier. It is a realistic, brutal look at modern warfare. It is already a classic.
on April 4, 2004
One would think that the US military would not be a fan of this book, since it covers a costly incursion of American Special Forces. Curiously, the military has embraced Black Hawk Down, eager to learn more about what went right and what went wrong in Modadishu. Through Vietnam-haunted movies, many people think of the military as incompetent, arrogant, stupid or just cold-blooded. Black Hawk Down's greatest contribution is a rebuke of those qualities.
The book follows the lives of the men who went into Somolia with the goal of capturing Warlord Aidid. Politics and why's are just briefly presented; Bowden focuses on the soldiers as they fight their way home through the city. He portrays them as real and human people, the fighting spirits of America. These are husbands, sons, brothers and friends - Bowden stresses that fact above all else. They are not perfect. Somolian perspective is given a voice in the book, but the soldiers are the main point of view.
Bowden said that he wanted to document the battle in the manner of a novel. He reports on the event like a journalist with an even hand. The city and the people are real and tangible, given dimensions that the movie fails to capture. The sheer amount of soldiers involved can be confusing at times, but Bowden does the best that can be done with it. The afterword presents the author's thoughts on the event and its repercussions, but at no time does he judge the actions of the soldiers on the ground. If you want to see the realities facing America and her military in the 21st Century, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
on April 1, 2004
The story of Black Hawk Down is mainly about modern war. The story took place in Somalia, Mogadishu. The author of this book is Mark Bowden. The Rangers mission was to extract the target building and capture the two Somali warlords. The mission was supposed to last an hour, but something tragic happened. Two enemy RPG's hit the Black Hawk Super Six Four helicopter. After the battle 18 American soldiers died and 70 more were wounded. The bloody battle took place in October 1993.
I liked this novel because it is interesting. I also like this novel because it made me sad for those soldiers who died in that battle. This novel made me feel a lot of emotions like sadness because of the corps of the died American soldiers being dragged on the streets of Mogadishu. This novel is very entertaining. This novel has full of action, which is why I spend an hour and fifteen minutes every night reading it.
Another thing that I liked about this novel that it changed the way I look at modern wars and battles. It made me respect people who fight for our country. This novel tells the story of the soldier in that battle like Matt Eversman and Mike Durant. This novel also showed the point of views of the American soldiers and the Somali soldiers. This novel is very enjoyable and interesting I would be happy to recommend this novel for those people who like to read war stories
on March 24, 2004
This is the History of one of the most hazardous military missions in the Clinton Administration, because Somalia in 1993 was a contry in civil war and the Somalian militia was trainied to figth to the last, but in the other side it was the Task Force Rangers who includes the US Army Rangers and the Special Forces team Delta who went to trap the warlord Mohammed Farrah Adid. This book is great because you look the live of 100 soldiers traped in a city with all aingast they and how survivie only thust in theirs comrades, but i have read the spanish version of it nad i like it. Thanks to this book i can find some boys can be heroes just for saving the man next to they and many other things you never imagine like the doctor who try to save the live of a young Ranger with a wound in his tigth, or the pilot who has been trated well by his captors. This book show this : "I will never leave a fallen comrade in hands od the enemy" like said the Ranger creed.
I highly reccomed this book in first place and later the movie.