Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War
Authored by 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.
Blackhawk Down is one of the few books that when I finished the last page, I immediately turned back to the beginning to restart it for a second time. The gripping narrative puts the reader in the midst of flying bullets as these brave warriors fight street-to-street for one another and their own survival in a far-away, forsaken land. Bravery, tragedy, trauma, and small-unit special operations tactics are all on vivid display in this epic retelling.
Despite the title, the book focuses mainly on ground combat with aviation references made as necessary to tell the full story. Numerous rotary-wing aircraft such as the Blackhawk and special operations “little birds” are featured. Even the U.S. Navy’s P-3 Orion gets a shout out.
The movie adaptation of the book, although good in its own right, was not nearly as compelling as the book. If you enjoy following the gritty moment-by-moment retelling of some of America’s most epic small battles, you’ll love Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War.