Read Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden Online

black-hawk-down

On October 3, 1993, about a hundred U.S. soldiers were dropped by helicopter into a teeming market in the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia, to abduct two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord. The action was supposed to take an hour. Instead, they spent a long and terrible night fighting thousands of armed Somalis. By morning, eighteen Americans were dead, and more than seventy bOn October 3, 1993, about a hundred U.S. soldiers were dropped by helicopter into a teeming market in the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia, to abduct two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord. The action was supposed to take an hour. Instead, they spent a long and terrible night fighting thousands of armed Somalis. By morning, eighteen Americans were dead, and more than seventy badly injured. Mark Bowden's gripping narrative is one of the most exciting accounts of modern war ever written--a riveting story that captures the heroism, courage and brutality of battle....

Title : Black Hawk Down
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780871137388
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Black Hawk Down Reviews

  • Will Byrnes
    2018-10-30 10:24

    The book describes, from the ground up, a US attack on the part of Mogadishu controlled by Somali military commander Mohamed Aidid, after Aidid had attacked a UN peacekeeping force. They had intended to grab some of his lieutenants (it is unclear to me if they intended to grab Aidid) himself, an attempt to de-fang a local warlord who had been a thorn in the side re the attempt to establish a government in Somalia.Image from BBCThere was a lack of appreciation for the theater conditions and many men were injured or killed. The descriptions match in print what the film Private Ryan showed on-screen re the bloodiness and horror of actual combat. Scattered throughout the book are tidbits that add up to form a vivid image. Bowden describes not only the perspective of the American combatants, but of some of the Somali participants as well. He informs us that the Italians were providing information to the locals re the American movements He also lets us know something of the complexity of the problem in Somalia, not a simple situation in which a freedom loving people is being subjugated by an evil warlord, but one in which there are many warring factions, each as nasty as the others. Most people do not want the kind of peace America envisaged. This has obvious lessons for the Balkans, where ethnic hatred has been a participation sport for centuries,and many other areas in which ancient tensions bubble beneath the surface. The book details how the Americans were unprepared for some of the enemy tactics, like using Rocket-propelled-grenades (RPG's) to attack helicopters, a trick the Afghanistan fighters taught them. The battle descriptions show how the locals try to take advantage of American sensibilities by hiding behind women and children hoping the Yanks would not shoot them. And it also shows how some devout Moslems were offended by the barbarism of their countrymen.It would have helped to have a map of Somalia, of Mogadishu, particularly a street map to provide some bearings. Versions later than the one I read have maps, so that is not a live concern. It would also have helped to have section headings to help one keep track of the various groups Bowden follows, as his descriptions darted from group to group. There are lessons here re the politics of "small engagements," that seem to speak volumes to contemporary warfare, and to the physical tactics as well. Things are not so simpleThis book made the Times top ten list.The Ridley Scott-directed film that was made of this book is magnificent.Published - February 10, 1999Review posted - April 7, 2017

  • Lyn
    2018-10-27 09:28

    Impressive.Another example of where the film is not even close to how good the book is, this narrative is gripping and very powerful.I had an Army friend who was there in Mogadishu at the time and said that the book was good journalism whereas the film was ridiculous. From my perspective, the Captain Steele from the book was Colonel Steele, commander of the 101st Airborne Rakkasans between 2004 and 2006, while I was in Iraq. Professional tough guy, former University of Georgia bulldog under Vince Dooley.This is, of course, a journalistic novel by Mark Bowden about the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. Gritty, intense and yet, I think, objective, Bowden’s prose is vibrant and descriptive. Bowden avoids sensationalism while still capturing the ugliness of an operation gone very wrong and the human costs associated on both sides.

  • Ana
    2018-10-27 03:29

    STAFF SGT. Matt Eversmann's lanky frame was fully extended on the rope for what seemed too long on the way down. Hanging from a hovering Blackhawk helicopter, Eversmann was a full 70 feet above the streets of Mogadishu. His goggles had broken, so his eyes chafed in the thick cloud of dust stirred up by the bird's rotors.

  • Joni
    2018-10-28 10:18

    Okay, first of all, I am not usually the person that likes "war" type books. But, I have wanted to read this book for awhile. I remember when this actually happened, but being a freshman in high school, I had bigger things going on... Throughout this book, I kept asking myself "who are these guys??" It amazes me what wonderful guys are serving my country. I had to giggle when a group of men were holed up in a shack with many of the Somalians closing in on them, blood was seeping everywhere from everyone. Stebbins who's foot has a golf ball size piece of metal in it is given a pain killer and a gun to protect out the window. Medic says "Here's a gun, you can guard this window." "okay" says Stebbins. "But as your health care professional, I feel I should warn you that narcotics and fire arms don't mix." I did cry & get choked up throughout this book, either because of what was going on at the time and or hearing first hand accounts. Then at the end, when the author is talking about how people quickly forgot what had happend there and brushed it under the carpet with a new and more exciting news cycle, "This book is written for them." I actual cried. Their bravery and selflessness of our military is outstanding, and I can't tell you how proud I am of each and everyone of them.

  • Pramod Nair
    2018-10-25 05:30

    If 'Black Hawk Down' was a war novel, it would definitely have a place among the very best of that genre. Written with such intensity, this military history volume by journalist Mark Bowden, brilliantly captures every minute moments from one of the longest modern day infantry engagements. When American soldiers were dropped by helicopter into the Bakara market right in the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia on October 3 1993 for a supposedly easy in and out abduction mission they had no idea that they were going to be part of one of the most terrible, long and sustained close-combat firefights since Vietnam war. The mission was straightforward; abduct two top brass lieutenants of the self-proclaimed president-to-be Mohamed Farrah Aidid from a building in Bakara Market. After careful planning and recon the mission was given to a joint group of soldiers consisting of the U.S. Army Rangers from Bravo Company, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta and Air Force men and helicopters from 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. But the dynamics of engagement changed right from the start of the mission as the fluidity and unpredictability of battlefield took over and blew away best-laid operational plans; resulting in a mission which was thought of as a cake-walk turn horribly wrong with two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters shot down and the troops pinned down with heavy armed resistance from Somali militiamen loyal to Aidid. A mission, that was believed to be over in a couple hours turned into a long and bloody night battle right in the middle of an urban market teeming with thousands of armed Somalis and civilians. The trapped raiding party finally had to be rescued by a relief convoy made up of elements from Task Force 2–14 Infantry and 10th Mountain Division, accompanied by Malaysian and Pakistani U.N. forces. When the battle was over the causalities among the Somalis where over 2000 with a lot of civilians among them and of the initial raiding force 18 American soldiers were dead, with more than 70 badly injured and one of the Black Hawk pilots captured by Aidid’s men. Of the rescue forces one Pakistani soldier and one Malaysian soldier got killed in the action. The fallout from this engagement was far reaching as this 'incident' forced the Clinton administration to totally withdraw American troops from Somalia. The book by Bowden is a result of inspecting and studying mountains of official reports, investigation snapshots and even transcripts of communications between combat troops and conducting hundreds of exhaustive interviews with the participants from both side; this adds to the level of detailing that is placed into the narrative and it's authenticity. Black Hawk Down tells the realistic tale of this modern day infantry combat with such vigor and brutally shocking honesty. It also will give the reader insights into the local & international politics surrounding the events, which led to the engagement at Bakara Market and how a supposed peacekeeping mission by UN in Somalia escalated into an armed conflict. If you have already seen the 'Black Hawk Down' movie, even then give this book a try and you will be amazed with the power of written words; as Bowden captures each and every moment of the engagement - happening in both air and ground - with such vividness. For me the book made a lot more powerful impact than the movie.

  • Igor Ljubuncic
    2018-11-14 08:02

    First an apology. I've accidentally reviewed this book with two stars two years ago. Not sure why. I got confused. Anyway, I've done unjustice to a really excellent work of history and military biography, and now it is time to correct this.So please disregard any comments and thoughts on my behalf before Oct 2, 2017.Now, the actual review:A fantastic book.Spectacular narrative, lots of personal touches, and we learn about the soldiers who fought, their fears and frustrations, their ideas and ideology, their creed, their friends, how they felt through the battle. Situations go from ridiculous (jacking escapades including parachute harnesses and walking the dawg) to introspective (how Delta Force soldiers felt about the situation, and how Howe hated everything, from Capt Steer to his armor-piercing ammunition to the casual attitude of the Rangers toward the general situations) to dreadful (the deaths of Smith and Pella and Joyce). The combat feels dirty and exhausting, as it should be. The situation is hectic and chaotic. The officers are obstinate and confused. The soldiers are happy, mad or frightened.It is also a thousand times better than the movie. After all, the movie is a Hollywood production, so it must cater to the masses. Drama but not too much drama as to deject and depress the audience. The cinematic spin actually takes away from some of the heroism and deep personal dilemmas that the Rangers and Delta Force operatives fighting in Mogadishu faced that day.The book also shows us the other side of this coin - not just the raw battle. The Somali perspective, the thoughts and the anguish of the families and the widows back in the US, the political fiasco behind the involvement, Mike Durrant's ordeal in captivity. It's not just gung-ho shooting and blasting heavy guns.All in all, this is one of the more pleasing combat narratives I've read. It's sad, poignant, impressive, silly, and most importantly, extremely well written. You enjoy the story, and you care for the protagonists, politics and all that nonsense notwithstanding. A soldiers' tale.Highly recommended.Igor

  • 'Aussie Rick'
    2018-10-31 08:05

    This is one of those great books that you can't put down; it reads like a novel, a fast paced narrative that can sometimes make you forget that it's a true life drama where real people die. I enjoyed reading this book and it's nice to see an honest appraisal of a stuffed-up mission, which was no fault of the men on the ground. This is a well presented account of the men of the US Army Rangers and Delta Force troops involved in a mission to capture a pair of high-ranking deputies to warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. In the end a number of their MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters had been shot down and they were surrounded in a hostile city on the verge of being overrun. This is the sort of book that all soldiers and politicians should read for different reasons. Well done to the author and the men involved!

  • Mike
    2018-11-12 06:14

    The movie is a gore-fest, but the book chronicles all the background intricacies that you can't find in a movie (of course). One highlight for me: When I finished reading the book, my son, who was in Iraq at the time, told me he had met one of the men who survived this incident. However, he also told me he met this man as he was being flown out for a cancer checkup. This man who had escaped this brutal attack had cancer two years later. After surviving that, he went on to go back into the Army and was a leader in the early days of the Iraq Occupation. One sad note: He was killed when the Medivac helicopter taking him to his cancer checkup in Baghdad was shot down in November 2003. My son was the last person to see him alive on the ground...he helped to load him into the helicopter. This book will always be a memorial to him.

  • Dave Cullen
    2018-11-14 04:04

    Expertly done in so many ways.The chief drawback: so many of the characters were interchangeable, it became very hard to keep them straight each time we returned to one.

  • Elizabeth
    2018-10-25 02:22

    Gripping read and detailed account of the 1993 horrific operation in Mogadishu that resulted in American soldiers dead and wounded. Before reading this book, the only memory or information I had about the event were the images of two American soldiers being dragged through the streets by the Somalians- courtesy of CNN.This is a story about bravery, honor, and camaraderie- all of which are borne out of utter chaos. Everything that can go wrong during this operation does: two Black Hawk helicopters go down, people are dying, soldiers are going in the wrong direction, and supplies are scarce. The information about the Army Rangers and D-Boys is mind boggling. The next time I hear that our "elite forces" will be sent into battle, I will be hard pressed to forget that though highly skilled and trained, they are probably not much older that nineteen, twenty, or twenty one.This book made me a nervous wreck while reading it- I could literally feel the panic. Also, I was constantly scrambling to find the diagrams and sort out where the various convoys and soldiers were located. I found I could not read it fast enough and was grateful for the snappy and easy to follow dialogue.Well done Mark Bowden!!

  • Jur
    2018-11-21 04:21

    The book provides an in depth account of the U.S. (not U.N.) operation to capture two main partners of General Aidid, leader of the Habr Gidr, the clan dominating Somalia at the time. Last weekend I also watched the movie (directed by Ridley Scott) and there's a couple of disconcerting differences, the main being that the movie strips out most of the uncomfortable parts of the book. That is the very strong criticism on the leadership (although Bowden often uses the Delta Force participants to voice it) and the Somali side of the experience. And I think these two points are the most significant in the book, and they explain a lot about what went wrong.And that leads to the question the movie doesn't ask: wasn't this a stupid plan in the first place? Jumping in the midst of the town would always result in considerable collateral damage and civilian deaths. ‘The Day of the Rangers’ pushed many Somalis, friends of Aidid or not, into active hostility towards the U.S. troops.As Bowden points out, the fact that the situation in Somalia didn´t change after Aidid´s death says enough about the misjudgement of the U.S. to pick that particular fight, and of their misjudgement of conflict in failed states in general: “In the end, the Battle of the Black Sea is another lesson in the limits of what force can accomplish.”The Americans had also badly underestimated their opponents’ capabilities and willingness to take them on. And in my reading of the book, the people in charge of the operation were paralysed by the unforeseen events and overwhelming information.Again, the movie reduces Bowden's multilayered story to two dimensions. Sure, it is easy for me to criticise these points from my armchair, but these elements have come back during many humanitarian operations: 1. elite western troops with an inflated sense of their power, which translated into underestimation of their opponents and disdain for the civilian population. Derogatory nicknames, prostitution rings, firelighters with jam handed to children, it´s all happened.2. irregular opponents who adopt to asymmetrical warfare and counter Western technological superiority by using terrain, subterfuge, or hiding among the population. It´s not always within the Geneva Convention, but civil war is a different beast than conventional conflict and U.N. troops should be take their opponents seriously.3. In a tight corner the elite troops are unwilling to take casualties to do what is necessary to fulfill their primary mission: protect civilians. Belgians in Rwanda, Dutch in Srebrenica. Or they just blast away the opposition by massive firepower, regardless of the collateral damage, as in Mogadishu. This also harms the primary mission. Both forms of fuck up also undermine the trust of people in the ability and the will of the international community to protect them. What´s not to say that this provided a hotbed for anti-Western sentiments that the radical islamist have fed on since?Full reviewThe page of the Crisis in Binni megagameMy review of Linda Polman´s The Crisis Caravan, about humanitarian intervention

  • David
    2018-10-22 05:12

    I haven't yet seen the film (it's in my Netflix queue) but this book is probably one of the best war memoirs written by someone who wasn't a soldier and wasn't there.Mark Bowden is a journalist who took an interest in the disastrous 1993 mission to capture the warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. A well-practiced mission executed by the elite Army Rangers and the even more elite Delta Force (the "D-boys" as the Rangers called them), they went into the heart of Mogadishu expecting to do a snatch-n-grab. Instead, one of the Black Hawk helicopters is brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade, and in the chaos that follows, the Rangers and D-boys are trapped in Mogadishu surrounded by hundreds of angry locals, the "combatants" and "non-combatants" essentially indistinguishable, and forced to hold them off with superior firepower overnight, until they are finally rescued in the morning by the 10th Mountain Division, a regular Army unit.Bowden, who interviewed as many of the survivors as he could find, including the super-secretive Delta Force troops (who, once he was able to find them, were surprisingly willing to tell him details of what happened), also went to Somalia and interviewed as many Somalis as he could find who were there, getting both sides of the story. From this, he constructed a narrative that, as he tells it, has the realism of a documentary but the drama of a novel. And his narrative is dramatic and harrowing and puts you there, in the air and then on the ground, as the Army unit takes casualties, guns down women and children (who are shooting at them or acting as spotters for snipers), while donkeys and doves casually stroll unscathed through the firefight. He covers the entire action in detail from the planning to the aftermath. And he goes into the politics that led to the mission in the first place, and casts his own verdict about whether or not blame was apportioned fairly afterward. (He takes particular issue with what he calls unfair and inaccurate criticisms by David Hackworth, a retired Army colonel and military writer and journalist whom I used to read regularly.)This was an excellent read, and really captures the feel, the camaraderie, and the no-BS sheer terror experienced even by hardened vets when exposed to combat, especially when a mission goes sideways. It does not whitewash the horrors and intractability of Somalia, how the US went in with good intentions and the Rangers were initially well-received by the populace, but soon became seen as murderers and terrorists. Sound familiar?

  • Edwin Priest
    2018-11-19 02:10

    In 1993, a small force of US Rangers and ultra-elite Delta force soldiers staged a lightening raid in the center of Mogadishu, Somalia. The purpose was to capture several higher-up Somali warlords who were reeking havoc on the local populace in their bids for power. The raid, as we all know, did not go well, and the task force ended up getting pinned down in a fierce gunfight with the local populace, losing two helicopters, 18 soldiers and requiring a huge multi-national operation to rescue them.Bowden does exactly what he sets out to do in this book, to create a detailed and accurate historical account of this conflict. Clearly a lot of research went into this book. Bowden describes on an intimately personal level the minute by minute stories of the soldiers in this conflict, the mistakes, the second guessing and of course, the heroism. And in doing this, Bowden truly nails the horror and chaos of this mission gone awry, giving the reader a powerful sense of what it is like to be in the middle of it all, making decisions on inadequate information, scared and ultimately just trying to survive.But Bowden digs deeper. He paints us a picture of the culture and mores of the military, especially these uber-special forces, with their hubris and swaggering bravado. He shows us how this culture either served, or failed to serve, the individuals in this battle. He looks into the justifications and internal survival strategies that soldiers need to do what they do. Yes, these men are generally all upstanding representatives of all that American stands for. But Bowden shows how some of this shiny American code of ethics can come apart as soldiers struggle to stay alive. As is true in any war, the enemy will get sterotyped, marginalized and dehumanized. The Somalis are the Skinnies, the Sammies. They are in the soldiers minds dirty, immoral and contemptible, a viewpoint which ultimately makes it easier for them to do what they have to do.In the sense of an historical and personal chronicle of a “modern” war-time conflict then, this book is outstanding. Bowden also tries to give us an overview of the bigger political perspective in which these events took place and, especially in the epilogue, of the political aftermath that followed. Sometimes though, I feel that Bowden loses sight of the elitism and attitudes that created the whole Mogadishu shit-storm in the first place. The “peacekeeping” UN mission was in many ways anything but, and the Somalis resented the Rangers, with all of their arrogance and disrespect. And conversely, the US establishment never really did try to understand the deeper social and political issues going on at the time in Somalia.Yes, this is a detailed, gritty and powerful story of heroism and courage in the face of overwhelming odds. Bowden, justifiably, glorifies the soldiers and the US mission and purpose. But in doing so, he pays little attention to the elitist attitudes and actions of these "peacekeepers" that ultimately caused this conflict. 3-1/2 stars.

  • Michael Gerald
    2018-11-21 05:23

    In 2001, the movie Black Hawk Down was critically hailed as one of the greatest war films of all time. Its depiction of the Battle of Mogadishu on October 3-4, 1993 was based on the book of the same title, published in 1999.Somalia evokes two images: famine and a failed state. The collapse of the Somali state after years of war with neighboring Ethiopia and among rival clans exacerbated famine and made it man-made.The UN moved to intervene and provide humanitarian assistance and, with the the lead of the US, tried to neutralize the warlords are destroying Somalia.But as the book reveals, the good intentions of the US to halt the violence and warlordism in Somalia was viewed by many Somalis as interference in their sovereignty. It did not help that US forces often went through Mogadishu, the capital, as if they owned the place and displaying an almost racist contempt for the Somali people in general with their use of derogatory remarks such as "Skinnies" and "Sammies" to describe the Somalis.This is not to condone Somali lawlessness and brutality during the famine and the battle. However, it is important to consider the political culture that existed (and probably still exists) in Somalia at the time to explain why the Somalis behaved as they did during the battle. Nevertheless, the images of dead American soldiers being dragged and abused by Somali civilians were (and still are) truly revolting and are inexcusable.The book also reveals details that were not in the movie or were modified for dramatic purposes. In the movie, two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down; there were actually four Black Hawks that were shot down by Somali RPGs: two crashed on the streets of Mogadishu, while two others were still able to fly and crash landed on the Mogadishu airport that served as the US headquarters. Also, Sergeant Matt Eversmann (portrayed by Josh Harnett) was not in the building where the Rangers and Delta Force made their stand, but was already back at the base!But the most important revelation from this book was, despite the US mistakes and casualties, the Battle of Mogadishu was an American victory. Or to be precise, a lopsided victory: 19 American dead against an estimated thousand Somali killed and the capture of a number of leaders of the Hadr Gidr clan of the warlord Mohammad Farah Aidid.Bowden did a an excellent job, given his lack of a military background, in reconstructing the events of the battle through official transcripts, video and audio records, and interviews with the survivors, both American and Somali. Several American survivors and officials have expressed satisfaction with Bowden's narrative that he was often invited as a speaker in many military seminars and conferences.Perhaps the greatest contribution of Black Hawk Down is the instilling of a sobering reminder, before 9/11, to people that war is not a walk in the park and is certainly not a video game. It is a terribly serious business that costs lives and even the best-laid plans can go awry, but good training, discipline, and judgment can mitigate the fog of war.

  • Michael C
    2018-11-17 04:24

    Black Hawk DownBlack Hawk Down is a nonfiction novel written by Mark Bowden. When he decided to write this book, the government wouldn’t give him any information, but when he attended one of the soldiers funerals, he found that many soldiers were glad to tell their story to someone. By compiling their memories and suffering, he wrote this amazing novel. This is the story of 100 marines against an enemy of over a million. When a simple kidnapping mission goes badly, the men are stuck out in a foreign city for over twelve hours. Other books he has written include Road Work, The Best Game Ever, and Guests of Ayatollah. This book was the most vivid war narrative I have ever read. By actually talking to soldiers that were in the battle, their emotions and characteristics paint a perfect picture in your mind. I loved how the author gives background info on each soldier, so you were much more sympathetic about their situation. The specific details about the city (Somalia), weaponry and gear, helped you to visualize the entire battle. It was a fast paced book that was difficult to put down, for fear that you may miss something in the battle. For instance, when the soldiers are trapped overnight in a foreign city, he describes how every gunshot, sound and shadow changed their outlook on life and the military. Some decided that this was what they lived for, and others decided that they wanted to see their wife and children. Though it was extremely enjoyable, Black Hawk Down was an extremely confusing book with too many characters. I felt that the background information on the characters was enjoyable, but he gave too much on too many people. He often talked about 5-10 people, and then returned to the battle. Not only do you have to remember all the characters you just learned, but the ones from before also. When he resumed talking about the battle, it was difficult to remember who was who. I often had to reread passages from past pages to remember who each man was, and what his job was. I probably would have focused more on a few central characters, in order to make the book a little less confusing. Besides this one weakness, the book was a thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish. It combined great characterization with unbelievable detail to create the ultimate non-fiction war novel. Any reader that enjoys fast paced, exhilarating, historic military battles and intense books would be extremely fond of this book.

  • Booknblues
    2018-11-06 02:08

    Black Hawk DownBy Mark Bowden4 starspp. 486I am not one to shy away from difficult subjects, but Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down is one of the most disturbing books which I have read in recent years and it is disturbing on so many levels, the loss of life, the senselessness, the clash of cultures, the fact that the necessary time was not taken to learn the essentials lessons from this, but instead a rush to put the past and Somalia behind us.Black Hawk Down is an account of a battle fought on October 23, 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia and as Bowden says "it was one of the most one sided battles in American history." The Rangers and Delta fighters were up against unbelievable odds. As Bowden states the loss of life for Somalis was catastrophic . "Conservative counts numbered five hundred dead among more than a thousand casualties."Bowden's intention was to create a book which read like a work of fiction, but was the true chronological story of the events of the day. He interviewed many of the survivors and he took the time to find out about individual personalities of those involved, so he was able to give the book a very personal feel. Bowden also took the time to explain the interplay and relationships between various forces as The Rangers and the Delta Force so the unschooled reader could understand. Noteworthy as well is his interviews with Somalis describing both their actions that day and their attitudes.Once I picked up this book I could not put it down. I became very involved in the lives of the people fighting and I felt a deep sadness for their losses. There were so many individual stories which took hold of me. My one wish was that Bowden had included a list of people and the beginning of the book which I could refer to.I would recommend to any one who enjoys war stories with the caution that it is also deeply troubling.

  • Judy
    2018-11-12 04:16

    After reading Matterhorn, I never suspected any other war account could shake its #1 War Classic status in my mind. This book does. I'm still not ready to bump Matterhorn down; however, this book at least equals it considering that it is a particularly engaging non-fiction account.Here are a few outstanding aspects of this narration of the Somali firefight:(1) The author includes the perspective of Somalians as well as UN Peacekeepers.(2) The author does a wonderful job of eliminating his own bias - until the Epilogue and Afterward. Even then he doesn't push his opinion and recognizes his lack of expert status.(3) The different decisions of the armed force branch commanders and officers is shown so that the reader can see how their viewpoints effected their ultimate decisions. I found myself amazed that anyone could win a war with so many divisional objectives in play.My only knock on this book is that I would have liked to have seen even more of the Somali perspective. Seeing the viewpoint of each of the factions would have been great, however, its not likely there would be many Somalis willing to speak out. I believe Bowden created a masterpiece from what was available.WARNING: Book contains graphic violence. Do not attempt to read if you aren't able to visualize modern war as it really is.4.5 stars and a high recommendation to Around the World readers.

  • Amanda
    2018-11-14 05:23

    War is hell. Anyone with delusions of it being glorious or anything other than hell needs only to read a few chapters of Black Hawk Down to have those fantasies shattered to smithereens. I am not exactly sure how to review this book. After all, it is a presentation of real events so I do not think it fair or appropriate to complain about it being dry, depressing, or long since the author is telling it the way it happened. Mark Bowden definitely did his homework before writing this book. It is packed with information and detail. He presents the events of that awful battle in October from all sides, including several Somalis. I appreciated his attention to detail and neutrality. Some of his descriptions are so vivid, you almost feel like you are there.I suppose the main reason I struggled to finish reading Black Hawk Down was because I didn't do my homework. I was expecting it to be more of a story, and less of a re-telling and 486 pages was a bit stressful for me. Also, there were so many participants, I found it difficult to keep track of them all. Every time I started to get to know one, the "story" jumped to another and wouldn't return for another 50 or so pages. That said, I am glad I read this book. It was very informative, I learned a lot about what goes on at the scene of a battle and behind the scenes as well. It was very well researched. Because of that, despite not being able to say that I really "liked" the book, I think it deserves 4 stars.

  • Rob
    2018-11-18 09:28

    Executive Summary: I think this is a case of bad timing more than the quality of the book. I think choosing to read a nonfiction book about a lot of American soldiers dying near the holidays was a bad idea on my part.Audiobook: Alan Sklar seemed to be a fine narrator. Unlike fiction books, I always prefer the narrator do as little as possible with nonfiction. He read clearly and with good inflection.Full ReviewI saw the movie adaptation of this book years ago when it first came out, and recalling thinking it a well told story. Well told doesn't necessarily translate to enjoyable however, especially when the subject matter is so dire.Mr. Bowden seems to do a great job in gathering facts and input from a variety of people involved in what has come to be called The Battle of Mogadishu. This includes not only many of the soldiers who lived it, but a few of the Somalies as well.I found the story slow and a bit dry at the beginning. I think Mr. Bowden wanted to ensure we knew whose these American soldiers were, and he goes into a lot of detail about many of them at the start.Things really start to pick up as everything goes wrong. It's not really a story of American triumph however. That made for some hard listening at times. Real life is always more fascinating than fiction, but I just never fully got into this book. I am glad I read it though, and I think it's an important story to have been told, especially at the time when it was released. If you enjoy military nonfiction, especially a fairly recent story, give this one a look.

  • Monica
    2018-10-24 06:07

    Bowden absolutely nails the chaos and fear and confusion of battle. This book is riveting in its detail of the "fog of war". Not a book about foreign policy, but about what the implementation of the policy entails. America is the greatest nation that ever existed, with distinct and huge technological and military advantage; however it is not invincible. What essentially amounted to a well armed gang, was able to penetrate that military might. We grossely underestimated the Somali people's will and capability and it cost lives. In my view the American military was triumphant against incredible odds, but ultimately the political establishment did not have the stomach for any further losses. This certainly was a lesson learned in light of today's environment. We are far more reluctant to commit our troops to battle or peacekeeping, relying instead on indescriminant bombing, and dissident forces to fight the battles (not necessarily a criticism).Bowden does not concentrate on the rationale, nor does he pass judgement on its viability, he concentrates on the men who fought that day. This in itself is laudable, since most journalists would have given in to their own personal biases. Though told primarily from an American point of view (as it should be), it was amazing that he was able to get interviews with Somali fighters, and other foreign nationals present at the time. A very horrifying yet refreshing look at the results of what is happening in the world outside of our immediate view. One hundred and fifty soldiers went to war against a city with a population of a million people and the sleeping giant still slept. Until this book was written, this battle was not even a footnote in American history. America is impacting other countries in ways that people had not ever considered. Bowden makes that strikingly clear. What is also becoming clear as time passes, is that skirmishes such as this one impact foreign policy far more than people think.

  • Kym Robinson
    2018-10-26 10:12

    I was one of those who read this book after they had seen the film. I found the movie to be refreshing in its depiction of action and events, despite only knowing about those events through mini documentaries or magazine articles. It was not until I read this book that I was able to get a greater picture of the men involved, what 'went down' and the atmosphere surrounding the 'Mog' in the early 1990s.This is a very easy book to read as far as writing goes, Bowden is skillful in his ability to depict history with the flow and descriptions one often finds in best selling novels. The contents however is heavy and tragic. I think that it is important for people to appreciate that however skillfully written or made such depictions are that it is with the weight of reality that we should appreciate that it is not suppose to be mere entertainment.Retelling of such events is not for blood thirsty arm chair experts to meander over such violent episodes in our history with a degree of fascination at the expense of those who lived it. Simply because they retrospectively have a morbid obsession with war and human loss.Instead books like this on such martial events should be an as honest telling of history as possible with the humanity captured as Bowden has so that some of us may appreciate that while this happened yesterday, we should not hope to relive it tomorrow simply because of an appathetic lack of empathy exists amongst the public greater or more specifically lacking in the upper echelons of leader ship. And from this episode in military history one should take home that throwing well trained and elite men into a quagmire that was Somalia is both futile and wasteful on so many levels. This is a well written book with a modern tale of heroism told in a sincere and skilled manner.85 %

  • Matt
    2018-10-28 03:16

    This account of the infamous battle in Mogadishu, Somalia benefits both from the story being so compelling, and from Bowden's structuring style. Bowden interviewed everyone he could get ahold of, both in the US and Somalia, before writing the book- then compared stories and asked for clarification wherever there were discrepancies. Because of this, you get the story from many different perspectives, shifting between them as it unfolds, and the honesty of it serves to illustrate the many complications that arise when the world's strongest army ends up engaging mobs of armed and angry people in a third world country. What looks good on paper ends up making no sense at all in reality, and quickly descends into a confusing,troubling bloodbath for everyone involved. (The afterword in this edition contains some of the most interesting material)

  • Bonnie E.
    2018-11-17 05:09

    An intense and incredible story of a 1993 mission by the US Army Rangers and other forces in Somalia. Hands down, this is one of the best books I have ever read. The portrait of each of the main characters is solidly drawn, and you really care about what happens to each of these men. Unlike many books about war or battles, this one gives a real sense of the terrors of close combat and guerilla warfare, and the courage of the soldiers who were faced with battling under extreme circumstances. It's a true story which makes it all the more compelling. Highly recommended.

  • Bob Mayer
    2018-10-29 08:10

    Reasonably accurate. Having served with some of the participants, it's inevitable some things would be left out. But by giving both sides, Bowden does a good job of showing the fog of war.Violating one of Rogers Rules of Rangering is pretty amazing for Rangers and Delta to do, but they did. Same plan over and over-- eventually they will catch on.

  • Carla
    2018-11-17 05:32

    A remarkable book. The way the story is told, the detail, the vividness, and emotion.

  • Ryan
    2018-10-31 07:10

    Utterly fascinating. If there ever was a way to capture the soldier's experience with words, Bowden has done it. His portrayal reads like a movie, seamlessly incorporating background information along with the minute-by-minute description of the mission, narrating the action as if you were there yourself, hearing the bullets zip by your ear, while really diving into the warrior's mentality: their thoughts on their lack of action, finally gearing up, beginning the fight, suffering through an ambush, dodging RPGs, watching their friend suffer an immediately mortal wound, fighting through desperation and hopelessness, feeling pinned down, trapped, and abandoned, and ultimately reflecting afterward. From the first seven-page chapter I was hooked, gripping the pages like I did the armchair when I watched the movie, but tighter this time. The shocking and disturbing scenes are mixed right in with the touching and bravery-filled heroics. We see a Somali laying in the road, shooting at the Americans, while surrounding himself with women sitting on his back and children at each side. A donkey marches back and forth across the bullet-riddled alley, multiple times, like it's invincible. Two Delta Snipers volunteer to go in to guard a Blawk Hawk wreckage by themselves, knowing they alone will try holding off a wild crowd. A crazed Somali woman runs out into the street, over and over, before the soldiers realize she's pointing out their positions and are forced to drop her. A soldier contemplates his first kill. An 80-year old man wanders into the middle of the battle just to see what all the fuss is about. A private darts across a firing lane three times for IV fluids in an attempt to save the life of a critically wounded buddy. Women and children fill the roads so that the Somalis can shoot from the assemblies, knowing that the Rangers will think twice about shooting towards innocents. And then the Somalis say how angry they are over their dead women and children? We even get a couple accounts from different Somalis involved in the fight, where they were, why they were fighting, what they were thinking, and how they fit it with Aidid's militia or just how they reacted as a normal clansmen who hated the American's brutal tactics. I certainly didn't expect to get any Somali perspective, but I'm glad that we do. It's interesting to read this now, as we watch yet another modern example of the limits of American Military Might right before our eyes. It's hard to believe, just as the soldiers in Mog felt, that with all our technology, all our military capabilities, all the training and equipment our soldiers get, that such a mission could be so troubled. Yet the lessons are so paralleled: what can you accomplish without cooperation on the ground? Can you bring help to those that don't want it? What started as a liberating, honest, helpful mission was met with such massive resistance from all sides, such anger at the American way, that the men who were trying to feed the country and bring a warlord to justice ended up as corpses dragged through the dirt steets as villagers cheered. What can be said? It's Africa? Don't interfere with someone else's civil war? Don't try to police the world? Don't try to help feed the starving? What's the lesson here? People wondered why no one stepped in with the situation in Rwanda. There have been demonstrations recently concerning Darfur. What do we do? Does America have a moral obligation to help the oppressed? Have we lost our credibility in that department? Would it be welcomed or viewed as bullying other nations, policing the world, or would it be sticking up for human rights? (I just this week finished teaching Night by Elie Weisel to my class of seniors and have been discussing the same issues. We are all shocked at what happened to the Jews, but do we try to prevent another Holocaust? How long do we wait until we do step in? How high was the death total in Rwanda and we did nothing? What's the total in Darfur up to?) Do we even understand the tribal and/or clan makeup of the area? Would we know what we are getting into? It's not encouraging to see the way the Sunni/Shite uprising caught Washington so off guard. What would happen if we went back into Africa? Regardless, Bowden makes no real effort to interject his thoughts on the lessons we should learn. His portrayal is focused solely on "capturing in words the experience of combat through the eyes and emotions of the soldiers involved, blending their urgent, human perspective with a military and political overview of their predicament," (his words from his Afterword) and he's amazing at it. Every word does exactly that. For a true account of life on the battlefield, piercing, poignant, and full of emotion as well as heart-pulsing drama, there really couldn't be a better portrayal. (I think my next book will be a satire on love, something a tad lighter... my blood pressure needs a break...)

  • Nickolas
    2018-11-21 08:13

    Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War is Mark Bowden’s attempt to explain the events surrounding the 1993, First Battle of Mogadishu. The entire purpose of the book seems to be allowing the survivors of the battle a voice to express what really happened. Bowden writes from the third person perspective of those involved with the conflict – from the elements of Task Force Ranger to the Somalis caught up in the fighting. An extensive array of personalities and backgrounds appear within the pages of the book. Through recounting the first hand accounts of those who fought and witnessed the battle Bowden exposes the failures that led to the deaths of American servicemen. The entire operation comes across as a mistake and in this Bowden does not come across as biased or jingoistic. The innocent civilians that are caught in the crossfire of the battle are given consideration in Black Hawk Down. If there is a theme to be found within the pages of this piece of journalism it is a warning not to underestimate a technologically inferior foe in combat and to avoid conflicts with no clear solution. The operation is generally considered a failure and Bowden’s writing would appear to confirm this opinion though judging by recent military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq the lessons of Black Hawk Down have not been properly heeded. Though several books written about the First Battle of Mogadishu exist, Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down is widely regarded as the most comprehensive published account. The compilation of so many individual threads makes the book standout. The story is so highly praised that it inspired a film by the same name that also managed to meet critical acclaim. A broad array of sources was used to write the story. Bowden interviewed dozens of people from both sides of the conflict. As Bowden says, “So many of the men who fought in this battle agreed to tell me their stories that most of the incidents related in this book were described to me by several different soldiers.” This helps to overcome the limitations of memory. The fact that Somalis were interviewed as well as American servicemen speaks of an inherent lack of bias. Bowden also used books and articles as sources during the writing of the book but nothing can compare to the candid stories expressed by those involved in the fighting. Primarily Bowden asks, “What happened?” This is where Black Hawk Down is such a triumph of investigative journalism. There are things about the book that do not paint the United States or the Armed Forces in a positive light. Expressing such things lends credibility to the accounts of the soldiers, civilians, and by proxy – Bowden himself. Black Hawk Down is extremely well written. Because the story of the First Battle of Mogadishu is told from the perspective of those on the ground (and in the air) it reads more like a novel than a historical text. The prose is gripping and immediate – it is easy to become absorbed in the frenetic pace of the fighting. The little bits of background that Bowden provides about individual soldiers serves to develop an emotional connection, reminding readers that these are indeed real people whose lives were at stake. Because there are no footnotes or annotations the flow of the text is not broken up by peripheral information. It is easy to pick up Black Hawk Down and just start reading it with little to no background of the event. The book is exciting and involving – accessible to intelligent readers and historians alike. Bowden uses military jargon, but does a thorough job of explaining it, and provides background knowledge of the Somalia situation before jumping into the battle proper. It is even worth noting that because of the narrative style of the text, Black Hawk Down can also easily appeal to fans of fiction as well as nonfiction. In laying it all out there, in telling the soldiers’ story, Bowden succeeds. The themes of Black Hawk Down are revealed through narrative rather than soap boxing. This proves to be a far more effective method of persuasive argument than continually harping on something and is without a doubt the greatest strength of the work. All in all, it is possible to set aside Black Hawk Down after reading it and only take away the fear, courage, and ultimately duty felt by the elements of Task Force Ranger. If this is the case then Bowden still accomplishes his primary goal in publishing the story. The book is occasionally frenetic, though never disorganized, and it can be difficult to keep track of the myriad servicemen and civilians involved. These are forgivable sins that are eclipsed by the depth of investigative journalism Bowden puts on display. No one can ever read a single book and expect to know everything there is to know about a subject, but for those interested in the First Battle of Mogadishu, Black Hawk Down is a solid and thrilling place to start.

  • Steve
    2018-11-18 05:06

    I realize it's silly to review a best-selling book that's been made into a movie and repackaged and reprinted multiple times, but that's never stopped me before, so...As a military (and military history) reader, I offer no rational excuse for not having read this book long ago (nor can I explain why I never saw the movie). I remember reacting poorly to one or more book reviews I read at the time, but, still, I should have read it.... On the other hand, there was a certain kismet in that, without intending to do so, I started the book on a (business) trip to Africa and, indeed, read it while flying over (and working in) the state(s) that surround Somalia. Having worked (albeit briefly) in a number of African states, it's both sad and informative to read about another step in Somalia's modern-era civil war and descent into its current, depressing, all-too-often seemingly hopelessly chaotic state (although, increasingly, Somalia is enjoying some amount of reconstruction and is now optimistically described as a progressing, evolving "fragile state").For non-military readers, the most important thing to know is that the author succeeds in presenting a detailed, harrowing non-fiction account of a dramatic military confrontation that reads like best-selling, airport bookstore fiction. The author did his homework, he interviewed many of the participants, and his access to a wealth of raw data (including video and tape from the battle) leads to a uniquely precise and orderly account of an otherwise chaotic series of events. But, while this is history, the story (and, ultimately, the action) drives the train. Granted, I shouldn't be surprised on that score, to the extent that I really enjoyed the author's football (NFL history) book, The Best Game Ever, and, indeed, I consider it one of the better sports books I've read. Accordingly, I applaud the author's ability to ply his art across highly divergent genres, and I expect I'll end up reading more of his work.For similar reasons, I strongly recommend taking the time to read the author's 2010 afterword - and, in retrospect - I could see it serving equally well, if not better, as a forward or preface. The author makes clear (what should have been obvious to any reader) that the art of this book is the author's presentation and empowerment of the soldiers' (and the participants') voices, rather than his own. The author plays no role in the story, and he remains invisible throughout the telling. He contrasts his approach - with help from critics (and/or what some might call literary snobs) - from generations of authors who determined that black humor, cynicism, and, implicitly, condescension and disrespect for the military (generally) and soldiers (individually and collectively) was the gold standard of war reporting. I applaud the author for his consistent and disciplined respect for those who serve, with all of their human failings, fears, and, well, humanity.Nonetheless, or, maybe, ultimately, the story (not the book) is immensely frustrating, as it graphically, painstakingly, and painfully, presents a brief anecdote of the fog of war, how political and leadership decisions impact the lives of soldiers, their families and, of course, people, communities, and states abroad ... and, of course, the next generation. For better or worse, in the new Millennium, Iraq and Afghanistan have generated a wealth of similar "new journalistic" accounts of urban warfare, small unit actions, and the actual experience of soldiers (rather than dispassionate high-level reconstruction of grand battles). War is messy, and the costs are high, and this book is a poignant reminder of both. In any event, I'd add this volume to a growing shelf of books that I'd love to see high school students exposed to before they truly enter adulthood, vote, consider military service, attend college, or form their initial (yet hard to change/inform) opinions about the nation's role in the world.There are a lot of players in the drama, and Bowden provides an extensive index (for that and other reasons). As an oft-academic reader, I'd personally have preferred Bowden's fulsome end notes as footnotes. In many cases, Bowden expands at length on specific events and recollections. Had these commentaries been at the bottom of the page when I was reading the relevant passage, I expect I would have spent significantly more time with them.Bowden's hard work paid off on this one. I expect this one will stay on bookshelves for years to come....

  • Lisa (Harmonybites)
    2018-11-11 03:09

    Bowden's book is every bit as riveting as the film based upon it, every bit as harrowing and visceral. It takes us minute by minute through the terrible battle on the streets of Mogadishu in Somalia on October 3, 1993. The American mission to capture two of clan warlord Aidid's top people was supposed to "take an hour" and at first seemed like it would be completed within minutes of their taking off from base. But then a black hawk helicopter went down, then another, and "ninety-nine American soldiers [were] surrounded and trapped" overnight and fighting for their lives. These were elite soldiers. The Rangers were volunteers thrice over--they had to choose the army, then the airborne, then the Rangers. And the Delta Force soldiers were the elite of the elite. They were what the Rangers aspired to be. They were backed by observation helicopters, on ground intelligence, spy planes and satellites. Their average age was only 19. The account of the warfare is detailed and spools before your inner eye as vividly as any film--it reads like a novel. In his Afterward Bowden writes about how he tried to efface himself from the story, that he tried to "get out of its way." I greatly appreciated that--I think in another book I read recently, Blood Diamonds, the author was too much in the story. This story was seemless and felt authentic--what came through was the voices and humanity and courage of the soldiers. It was hard to read at times--Bowden doesn't pull any punches in graphically relating what bullets and shrapnel does to vulnerable flesh and bone. But you do feel like he gives you the most vivid account of modern warfare possible without going into combat yourself. I not only learned about the combatants from both sides, but why the mission was almost inevitably doomed to failure. In that regard the Somali perspectives were invaluable. Not simply because they humanized "the enemy" but because of their explanation of how the initially welcomed American intervention soured for them. As one Somali put it, the Americans "were trying to take down a clan--the most ancient and efficient social organization known to man." And the experience in Somali haunted US Foreign Policy to at least the events of 9/11. As one US State Department Official put it, "Somalia was the experience that taught us that people in these places bear much of the responsibility for things being the way they are. The hatred and the killing continue because they want it to--or they don't want peace enough to stop it." As a result, for better or worse America didn't get involved in Rwanda or Zaire's bloody civil conflicts. As a result of that firefight in Mogadishu, 18 American soldiers lost their lives, and 73 were wounded. The toll on the Somali side was horrific. "Conservative counts numbered five hundred dead among more than a thousand casualties." Even more sobering? It's twenty years later, and Somalia is still a "failed state" in the midst of war. And after that battle in Mogadishu, no one in the international community cares to come between them killing each other.A gripping and unforgettable book.

  • Matt Palmer
    2018-10-31 09:03

    Helicopters crashing, RPG’s launching, men fighting to survive, all some of the many things that happen in the action packed book “Black Hawk Down” by Mark Bowden. The book is an excellent way to learn about the war while having a good time reading. All the action in the book makes it very interesting, yet the factual information is also provided by the author. The book is so real, it gets you on the edge of your seat while reading. With all this action packed information, you can obtain a lot of knowledge about the book and have fun, all this putting the pieces of the puzzle together to make a fantastic book. All hell breaks lose when the United Sates Army drops in to Somalia in 2001. Roughly 120 men are sent on a mission to recover two main lieutenants, yet that mission went from simple to life threatening. “Black Hawk Down” by Mark Bowden puts you right in action page after page. The book gives you the mission that “the boys” will be completing. They have to literally drop into the “heart” of Somalia and attempt to arrest two much wanted fugitives. Yet what they don’t know is that they are going to run in to a lot of trouble. As the book goes on you are taken into all the missions (all taken place in Africa), that literally are so detailed you may begin to shake. Towards the middle of the book the Rangers are on a main mission in Somalia, being hated by the somalians, they are shot down (in a Black Hawk) an immediately swarmed by 100’s of men. Taking heavy fire, other Rangers and Delta force members are given the task to get in there and save their asses. With bodies dropping left and right, this is no laughing matter. Later, when a second black hawk goes down they all know there is not much they can do. An RPG (rocket launcher) caused the Black Hawk to go down that day, when fired by a Somali citizen. As the book continues, it covers other covert elite missions that are not as interesting as when the black hawk goes down, yet they all share a connection that makes them necessary for this book to cover them. Each mission is just a ripple effect to the next infuriating both sides so they will keep on butting heads until who knows what! Each mission is like a domino to the next, they all lead to another. With such great cooperative chapters the book is tied down perfectly. I thought the book was rather interesting. As not being someone who enjoys to read. The only kind of book I could see myself enjoying is action and that contributed to the incredible book Black Hawk Down. Surprisingly I took a lot more from this book than acrtion, it showed me not to take for granted what we have because there are people out there with so much worse. It also showed me that the soldiers who fight for us go threw so much and they deserve a lot better than they have. All these lessons made me love the book. A book like that has to be really good to, because if I love a book, you know it has to be good!