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Black Hawk Down: Battle of Mogadishu

In: Historical Events

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Black Hawk Down: Battle of Mogadishu “War was ugly and evil, for sure, but it was still the way things got done on most of the planet.” (Bowden 1999) Mark Bowden’s book, Black Hawk Down, is a great novel. This book portrays the struggles and triumphs of the men who fought over in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993. In this book, we are able to see firsthand experiences of the men of the U.S. Rangers and Delta Force. Their main objective is to capture a Somali drug lord, Mohamed Farrah Aidid. However, things take a turn for the worst throughout the book, and the reader gets to see what it’s like to fight a modern battle. I choose this book because I love learning about military events that have happened in our nation’s existence. Military novels allow me to get a feel for what it’s like to fight and defend our country. I feel like more military events need to be taught in school to help people understand the sacrifices that our armed forces take every day. Overall, Black Hawk Down is a great novel that gives great insight to the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993.
The book is broken up into five main parts. First, it starts out with the initial assault from the U.S. Rangers and Delta Force. In this chapter, we learn about the entire plot to go into the city of Mogadishu and retrieve someone of importance to the U.S. in regards to the drug cartel. Everything is going great until one of the Rangers falls out of the helicopter and get severely hurt. This mishap causes the entire mission to change, which leads them into worse problems. The city of Mogadishu is not a normal looking city. There is trash everywhere and streets that run in weird directions, so this causes numerous problems for the U.S. soldiers. With one of the soldiers being injured, the rest of the soldiers start thinking up another plan to evacuate the city in one piece, however, things take a turn for the worse pretty quickly. One of the Black Hawks that was helping transport and protect the soldiers on the ground gets shot down by a RPG rocket. The helicopter goes spiraling out of control and eventually crashes down a few blocks away from the bulk of the soldiers. Here is where things continue to get worse. The motto for these men is to never leave a man behind, and that is exactly what they plan on doing. So they head out with their convoy in search to find the crash site. In the mist of all the soldiers and helicopters trying to find the crash site, Mike Durant’s Black Hawk is also shot down and crashes in the city a few blocks away from the original crash. After his Black Hawk crashed, Durant was taken hostage by the Somalia Army. This is terrible news for the soldiers on the ground because they now know that their entire mission just got harder. The rest of the book is about how the men devise a plan to rescue the men that were in the Black Hawks, and we learn about the bloody and horrific situations the men get put in. “Soldiering was about fighting. It was about killing people before they killed you. It was about having your way by force and guile in a dangerous world, taking a shit in the woods, living in dirty, difficult conditions, enduring hardships and risks that could-and sometimes did—kill you.” (Bowden 1999) The men endure long, gruesome fighting for hours in search for Durant and the others who crashed. They eventually receive aid from the Pakistani army across the border, which helps them in their victory against the Aidid’s army. The U.S. forces eventually fight their way out of Mogadishu, and find Mike Durant, and he is released from captivity. This book portrays the idea of foreign affairs, and the devastation that war can have on a person, family, or country. The main themes of this book are heroism and patriotism. All the U.S. soldiers risked their lives to protect our nation, and to protect their brothers fighting next to them. Overall, this book portrayed the ugly truth about war, and we got a great understanding of the detail that goes into preparing and operating under such terrible circumstances. Mark Bowden is the author of this great American novel. With any book, you need to find out a little bit about the author and what caused him to write this. Mark Bowden has written many other popular books in his time. The main thing that leads me to believe that this book is historically accurate is how Bowden compiled the info to write this book. Bowden had no connections to the events that happened over in Somalia, but he was able to sit down and talk too many of the soldiers who fought on that gruesome day. “So many of the men who fought in this battle agreed to tell me their stories that most of the incidents related in this book were described to me by several different soldiers. Where there were discrepancies, one man’s memory generally worked to improve the others’. In some cases, comparing stories was a useful check on embellishment.” (Bowden 1999) This has led me to believe that this book is very historically accurate, but I also found a few other books regarding the topic, and they too support Bowden’s words. The first one I found contains firsthand accounts of the soldiers who fought that da. Sergeant Matt Eversmann had this to say about his first mission as being a chalk leader, “My first thirty seconds as the leader of Chalk Four, sucked plain and simple. We were in the wrong spot, had no commo, had an urgent casualty, and were being shot at from three directions. Things were going South in a hurry.” (Eversmann and Schilling 2006) This matches up exactly with Bowden’s story. The men of Chalk Four just recently were put under command of Eversmann. When the men were dropped off, one man fell out and hurt himself, and they were about a block away from their desired position. The second book I found was Black Hawk pilot, Mike Durant’s, firsthand account. Durant had this to say about being shot down, “The chopper’s windshield was almost completely gone, pierced and disintegrated by a slab of corrugated metal that had stopped only inches from my face.” (Durant and Hartov 2006) He later went on to explain how two men came to help save him and his co-pilot. “Randy and Gary didn’t say much. They knew the situation was critical and they were there to work, not chat.” (Durant and Hartov 2006)According to Bowden, when Durant’s chopper went down, another chopper dropped off two men to help protect and save the men. However, both men eventually died, which left Durant to be taken prisoner. In Durant’s book, he has the same story regarding the matter. Overall, Mark Bowden is a bestselling author for numerous books he has written, which makes him more than qualified to write this book. When you compare his story to the firsthand accounts of the men who fought, they match up exactly. Ultimately, this book is historically accurate, and Bowden was perfect to write this book. When you read any book, you need to think about the politics of production. First off who created it. We know the author is Mark Bowden, but we need to dig a little deeper into him. Bowden was born in America and has written over ten books, while collecting bestselling awards for his books. Bowden grew up in Missouri and attended Loyola University. While he was in college, he started his writing career and it just took off. There was never really major instance in his life that caused him to begin writing until he got to Loyola. He started off as a journalist, and he has worked at some major magazine companies during his life. The publishing company of this book, Atlantic Monthly Press, was where he worked when he wrote this book. This company focused mainly on foreign affairs, politics, and the economy, so that could have played a role in why he wrote this book. Overall, Bowden has been a long time author who practically writes about military events and has earned lots of praise for his works. Next, we need to look at when the book was created. Bowden’s book had come out in 1999 and he claimed he began writing it in 1996. What events could have led to Bowden to write this book? Well we know he likes to write about military events, so first we need to look at what major military events happened during that time period. First, the Gulf War was in 1991, which could have played an important role in his motivation. His book is very heroic, and showing America is a strong country and that we are capable of beating anyone that threatens us could have been a key point he wanted to get across. Like I said earlier, he worked for a company that focused on foreign affairs, which is looking like the most evident reason he wrote the book. There were a lot of other major events in our society, but none of them really have a correspondence with Bowden or his book. Next, we have to look at who is the intended audience and who helped pay for the book to be printed. The intended audience is most likely someone who is 16 or older. The book contains some pretty graphic pictures and scenes. Also, there are some words that some people might not know what they mean, which could cause confusion. Overall, if you’re younger than 16, then I would not recommend you to read it. A kid younger than that may get scared or not get the right opinion about the book because they haven’t fully learned about war and what goes on. You have to also think whose perspective the book is being portrayed through. In this case, the book is been perceived from the men who were actually there. You are seeing what it was like for the men who fought in the war and, the trauma that they live with today. By letting the reader see first-hand the experiences of war, they are able to make a justifiable opinion towards war. Finally, who paid for it? The book was published by Atlantic Monthly Press, so Bowden did not receive any outside money to write this book. Atlantic Monthly Press has been a long time magazine that has received national reputation. The magazine eventually made some changes and it began to focus on topics such as foreign affairs or politics. This may have been a reason that encouraged him to write this piece because he worked for Atlantic Monthly Press for a short time. Overall, Mark Bowden’s book, Black Hawk Down, is intended for audiences of 16 years older, and no outside party helped pay for the publishing of his book other than his company who focused on foreign affairs and politics. Finally, as a reader you have to see if your prior knowledge or opinions affect how you feel about the book. Personally, I believe that we need to defend our country by any means necessary. My family has had several people who served in the U.S. military, so that has led me to become more pro-war. Growing up around my grandfathers, who defended our country, has definitely influenced how I feel towards wars and foreign affairs. I know losing men in war is terrible and we want to avoid it entirely, but I feel like we need to take actions in foreign countries to help protect our nation and our freedoms. With all that being said, I have the utmost respect for anyone who serves our country. Ultimately, everyone has their own way of viewing things, and that plays a huge role in how you will perceive this book. Overall, my impressions of this book are great. This book has helped me understand what modern day conflict is and what actually happens in those scenarios. I would give this book two thumbs up. Mark Bowden really outdid himself, and deserves all the praise he gets for this book. I really like how he included pictures from the battle because it helped me get the full effect of war. My favorite part of this book was the fact that he used interviews of the men to write this book because it made me feel comfortable knowing that what he was saying was true. I would not change one thing about this book because then it will lose its purpose. I would highly recommend this book to my peers because it really kept me interested and wanting to read more. Mark Bowden’s, Black Hawk Down, is one of the best books I have ever read, and it has left me with a strong sense of patriotism.
Works Cited
Bowden, Mark. Black Hawk Down. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1999.
Durant, Michael J., and Steven Hartov. In the Company of Heroes. Signet, 2006.
Eversmann, Matt, and Dan Schilling. The Battle of Mogadishu: Firsthand Accounts from the Men of Task Force Ranger. Presidio Press, 2006.

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