Jim's Reviews > Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden
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Jul 27, 07

Read in December, 2002

Black Hawk Down, the absorbing story of the worst firefight for American forces since VietNam, is worth a look. It's a great, engaging read.

In 1993, US soldiers, enforcing UN mandates, sought to remove Somali warlord Aidid to aid relief efforts and establish a more democratic government. One autumn day, a Special Forces raid to seize two of Aidid's lieutenants ended with 18 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of Somali's dead. Mark Bowden examines the various things that went wrong, and avoids blaming the obvious suspects (the commanding general, the Secretary of Defense, the President). Indeed, as Bowden presents it, if the men who fought there had regrets about command, it was not that the casualty-ridden raid was ordered. Rather, it's that the policy that it served was abruptly changed immediately after, making the success of the mission moot.

Bowden has a nice style, very straight but very readable. He's not interesting in larger political points but seeks to tell a story and let the world know the bravery of some hundred-odd American soldiers. He's got a great way with detail, weaving it into his stories without overwhelming them. I'm looking forward to whatever topic he grabs next.
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