Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

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F February 07, 2017
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Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War


Mark Bowden
Already a classic of war reporting and now reissued as a Grove Press paperback, Black Hawk Down is Mark Bowden’s brilliant account of the longest sustained firefight involving American troops since the Vietnam War. On October 3, 1993, about a hundred elite U.S. soldiers were dropped by helicopter into the teeming market in the heart of Mogadishu, Somalia. Their mission was to abduct two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord and return to base. It was supposed to take an hour. Instead, they found themselves pinned down through a long and terrible night fighting against thousands of heavily armed Somalis. The following morning, eighteen Americans were dead and more than seventy had been badly wounded.
Drawing on interviews from both sides, army records, audiotapes, and videos (some of the material is still classified), Bowden’s minute-by-minute narrative is one of the most exciting accounts of modern combat ever written—a riveting story that captures the heroism, courage, and brutality of battle.

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Objective and enjoyable telling of the overnight fight against heavily armed Somalis

Black Hawk Down is not a book of fiction, instead it is the actual retelling of the 18 hours that U.S. troops battled for their lives against thousands of heavily armed Somalia citizens in an attempt to rescue their fellow soldiers.

I usually only review fictional books and simply must say that if you enjoy books about military history then Black Hawk Down is a must read.

However, if I rate it just as a fictional story (which it is not so I realize this might seem unfair) the story can feel short. You don't get to learn a lot about the rational of the individuals from either side that ended up in the battle except for some excellent follow-up by the author in the closing remarks. The author also points out that he has no knowledge of the capabilities of various military equipment such as tanks so you are left wondering if the outcome would have been different with better preparation and planning.

The author does tell a very objective story about the situations that occur and Black Hawk Down is an enjoyable book overall. It just leaves you to question some of the decisions that were made and the U.S. policies and practices of the time on your own. I give it four out of five starts.

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