I’ve had the Black Hawk Down book kicking about for a long while and never read it. I’d seen the film and thought theres no real way the book could live up to it and I knew the the film had been used jast a tad by the US military as propaganda as they’d changed a few bits so they didnt look so bad to the world.
Finally picked it up the other day and started to read it. I don’t think I’ve been able to put it down. How did these folk manage to get through that? Unlike the film the book gives you the side of the Somalian people, Mark Bowden seems to go to great pains to let you know why the people of Mogadishu felt and did what they did. The interviews with the US Rangers highlight just what they were going through…How many people are able to deal with an enemy that uses woman and children as human shields in battle?..How many people are able to deal with an occupying force using the downdraft of their helicopters to literally blow away houses and kill, as far as they feel, innocent bystanders during firefights. The Americans just couldnt understand why people would run to witness a battle rather than find a safe place.
It also explains more about why it took so long far a rescue mission to be launched and that it wasnt just Rangers and Delta that went in. One of the original HUMVEE’s was driven by a bunch of SEALs and the rescue helicopter was manned by airforce parajumpers as well as Delta. The 10th Mountain brigade sent in a convoy as soon as they could and the Pakistanis jumped at the chance to help out rather than being dicks in the film and being intentionally slow…they just couldnt move fast because they had to organise thier tanks to go in.
Like most books of this type you spend most of the time trying to pick your jaw up off the ground as you read about hellish scenes left right and centre only fo ryou to burst out laughing at the stupidest things. An example being the Ranger of probable polish descent whos name the other guys in his squad didnt like tryiong to pronounce so they called him “Alphabet”.
The violence is no worse or better than anything i’ve read about in the WW2 history books I have but the style of writing just puts it in your face so matter of factly that its hard not to read it and be affected by it.
Anyway…halfway through it so far and I’m sure ill be finished in a day or two…