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Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  31,230 ratings  ·  930 reviews
"Destined to become a classic of war reporting, this is a brilliant account of the longest sustained firefight involving American troops since the Vietnam War. 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 ta ...more
Paperback, 486 pages
Published August 7th 2001 by Signet (first published 1999)
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Joni
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 ...more
Mike
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 a ...more
'Aussie Rick'
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 Moham
...more
Igor Ljubuncic
Not as remotely as good as I hoped for. Too documentary by far, with none of that nostalgic prose like From Here to Eternity, Some Came Running, Battle Cry, or others. Sure, hardly comparable, but still. Even history can be written with flair. Just take a look at how Stephen Budiansky spins the tales.

No limericks, soz.

Igor
Judy
Apr 01, 2014 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Around-the-world readers
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 bi
...more
Michael C
Black Hawk Down
Black 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 fo
...more
Amanda
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 pa
...more
Jur
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 vo
...more
Booknblues
Black Hawk Down
By Mark Bowden
4 stars
pp. 486

I 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 Octo
...more
Elizabeth
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 helicopter
...more
Matt
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 complica ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jan 21, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
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 so ...more
Graham E.
Black Hawk Down Book Review

Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden is about a mission gone awry. Mark Bowden was born in July 17, 1951 in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from Loyola College in Maryland and is a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. The mission is to capture some of Mohamad Farrak Aidid’s militia’s officials in Mogadishu, Somalia. While trying to capture two prime suspects, the forces engage in fierce combat that kill many fine Rangers and Delta Force operatives.
I enjoyed the battle
...more
David
This book describes a battle in 1993 in Somalia - I remember it, as do many Americans of the time, because of the way the bodies of slain American soldiers were abused and paraded through the streets. It was a tough time for the US forces.

On October 3, about a hundred elite US soldiers were dropped by helicopter into Mogadishu with a mission of capturing two top aides of a Somali warlord. The raid was supposed to take an hour. But when two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down by the Somalis and
...more
Nickolas
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 o ...more
Zinger
This book told the story of the Battle of Mogadishu: 3-4 October 1993. As far as putting you up and close in intense combat, this book did a really good job and may give you Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

As urban warfare (or more often called: Peace Keeping Operations or Nation Building) becomes more the norm for modern warfare, this book gives a glimpse into that form of combat.

I admired the courage, bravery, self sacrifice, and stamina of those service men that endured such a terrible ordeal,
...more
Bonnie E.
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 ...more
Kym Andrew Robinson
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 de
...more
Arun Divakar
I can frankly admit the fact that the one reason that prompted me to read this book was Ridley Scott's movie, it wasn't an unwise decision. It stands apart as one of the grittiest and tough books i have read to date.Growing up seeing action movies, there was a prejudice that i had : that the US armed forces are invincible..with time that changed. No other movie or piece of literature was as good as black hawk down at this.

The premise is a very strange one, the US army/airforce's elite teams bein
...more
Shawn Kupfer
This is one of those where “seeing the movie is close enough” is a pretty common sentiment, and I’ll half-agree with that — the 2001 film is damned watchable, and gives a pretty fair broad-strokes view of the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.

So if you’ve seen and enjoyed the movie, do you really need to read “Black Hawk Down?” The answer is, without reservation, yes. Yes you do.

Sure, the book is more accurate than the movie. Sure, it provides additional information the movie didn’t have time to include
...more
Ryan
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 ambu ...more
Scott
Whoa, this is an incredibly intense book, absolutely riveting. The story is a true account of the events surrounding a famous 1993 military incident in Mogadishu, Somalia. The U.S. is part of a United Nations humanitarian effort to help in the war-torn and desolate country. Things are tense though between the local warlords in power and the peacekeeping forces of the U.S. One day intelligence detects the presence of two Somali warlord lieutenants in a downtown building and a contingent of U.S. s ...more
Matt Palmer
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 o ...more
Jeffrey
I absolutely loved this book. It really opens your eyes about modern war and the fights that our U.S. military is continually involved in. What makes this book so fantastic is Mark Bowden writes on a non-fictional subject like it is a fictional story. If you did not know that it is a non-fiction and read it, you would honestly think that it is a made up conflict. The book liked to jump around from people to people and chalk to chalk( chalks are squads/teams of Rangers and Delta). My favorite cha ...more
Jason
In BLACK HAWK DOWN, Mark Bowden delivers a very pwerful story of the event that took place in Mogadishu Somalia, october 3rd, 1993. The United States Army was stationed in Mogadishu to help settle the Somali government problems facing food issues, as you probably know from watching the movie "Black Hawk Down." The book however sticks extremly close to the movie, but is also longer and more detailed throughout the whole story. The book also describes the view from the Somalian side as intense and ...more
Sairam Krishnan
I had watched the movie long ago, and even at that time had been stunned at the goriness of the 'Battle of the Black Sea' as the fight was later known.

I have read Mark Bowden's longform articles before, and wanted to see how he had handled this. He is a very good storyteller, and though he tries very hard to do justice to the madness of this battle, he falters a few times.

That takes nothing away from the experience of the whole book, though. Bowden manages to weave a narrative that encapsulates
...more
Davian Ross
This happens to be one of the most exciting, intriguing, and gruesome stories that i have ever read. The struggles of war come to life in this well written book by Mark Bowden. Everything comes to life while reading this book. It goes into every small detail so that you have the feeling that you are there with them. From the description of the different guns that they use to the types of vehicles that they use, its all very real. It seems like one of those epic made up battle stories but this wa ...more
Vicki
Giving a book a five star rating is something I struggle with. I keep trying to find reasons to give Black Hawk Down only four stars but any flaws I find a minor and insignificant given the quality of this account of the events around 3rd October 1993.

I'm not a reader of war history so I was doubtful that I would enjoy this book. I was right, as this is not a book to be enjoyed. It's a book to be endured as you live through the events along side the men who went into battle on that extraordinary
...more
Eric Beard


On a side note, I had the opportunity to cross paths with the author while working on a project for the US Army War College on the Carlisle Barracks. The kindly clerk at the bookstore (yes, the Army War College has a bookstore and it is filled with sweatshirts, shot glasses, pens, candy, and all of the other detritus that one expects to find in any bookstore at Anywhere State University) noted my interested in this book, and quite proudly shared with me that Mr. Bowden was now stationed at the
...more
Foster
One of the few books with a jacket recommendation "you can't put it down" that turns out to be true. An amazing piece of writing which manages to do so many things at once. You are given the perspectives of all who were involved in this battle: the soldiers on the ground, the Somali civilians, the Somali gunmen, the UN, the commanders, the Washington policymakers, the relatives back home. An incredible research effort is behind this book.

The writing - like the battle - follows a frenetic pace, a
...more
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Mark Robert Bowden (born July 17, 1951) is an American writer who is currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, and a 1973 graduate of Loyola College in Maryland, Bowden was a staff writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1979-2003, and has won numerous awards. He has written for Men's Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, Sports Illustrated, and Rolling Stone over the ...more
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“No one gets left behind, you know that.” 11 likes
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