Review- Bowden, “Black Hawk Down”

black hawk down

Mark Bowden, “Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War” (1999) – this is an accomplishment, story-telling wise: telling the story of a chaotic battle, with dozens of characters, a number of key turning points, coherently and in a way that gets across the distinct fuck-up quality of Task Force Ranger’s trip into Mogadishu. Moreover, until the end (where things get a little sappy and patriotic), Bowden refuses to moralize, presenting both the Americans and the Somalis as people with admirable qualities (not the least among them courage, on both sides) and flaws (not the least among them a desire to prove themselves through killing). I’ve read a lot of War on Terror (the battle in Mogadishu pre-dates the WoT by a while but you can see a lot of the same concerns and tropes) books and it’s rare an American author can avoid either sanctifying or demonizing. I think Bowden knew he had a good story already. So he mostly sticks to the granular, ground-level reconstruction of battle, and when he does, it’s pretty good. ****’

Review- Bowden, “Black Hawk Down”

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