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Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  43,219 Ratings  ·  1,228 Reviews
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
Paperback, 400 pages
Published April 13th 2010 by Grove Press (first published 1999)
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Danita L The book, Black Hawk Down was written in 1999. The movie, Black Hawk Down was adapted from this book in 2001.

Both are well received. But a movie can…more
The book, Black Hawk Down was written in 1999. The movie, Black Hawk Down was adapted from this book in 2001.

Both are well received. But a movie can only cover so much in two and a half hours. The movie is dramatic with a music score that brings out the tragedy of what happens. It is powerful and watching the movie leaves you in tears.

The book covers the battles and events with such force that grinding your teeth is part of reading the book.

Both are explicit and compelling in telling the story of an event that should not have happened. In short, the battle was a sh*t-storm.(less)
Peter No. This is the real time account of the Battle of Mogadishu between U.S. special forces and Somali militiamen loyal to a local warlord. Excellent and…moreNo. This is the real time account of the Battle of Mogadishu between U.S. special forces and Somali militiamen loyal to a local warlord. Excellent and riveting read.(less)

Community Reviews

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Will Byrnes
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 BBC

There was a lack of appreciation for the theater conditions and many
Aug 03, 2011 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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 Vinc
May 27, 2011 Joni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Pramod Nair
Jan 27, 2015 Pramod Nair rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
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
Mar 01, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dave Cullen
Apr 20, 2010 Dave Cullen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 24, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 28, 2013 Jur rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
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
Mar 07, 2017 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rangers, D-boys, military journalists, Black Hawk pilots, Somali warlords
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.
Edwin Priest
Apr 25, 2017 Edwin Priest rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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 ...more
Michael C
Oct 27, 2008 Michael C rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 10, 2013 Booknblues rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, survival, war, somalia
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
Mar 01, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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.

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 Review
I saw the movie adaptation of this book years ago when it first came out, and recall
Oct 13, 2012 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 a ...more
Dec 31, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bonnie E.
Jul 17, 2011 Bonnie E. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Bob Mayer
Apr 06, 2013 Bob Mayer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 29, 2015 Carla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A remarkable book. The way the story is told, the detail, the vividness, and emotion.
Jan 28, 2009 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 24, 2013 Nickolas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 23, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, military
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
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jan 19, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Matt Palmer
Jan 25, 2012 Matt Palmer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Graham E.
Oct 21, 2008 Graham E. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kym 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
Jun 20, 2008 Zinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
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,
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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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