Customer Reviews


844 Reviews
5 star:
 (657)
4 star:
 (142)
3 star:
 (27)
2 star:
 (7)
1 star:
 (11)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


155 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bowden Captures the Horror of Modern Urban Warfare
So you've never been in combat. Come to Mogadishu. Maybe you're the rear detachment company clerk who was called forward due to an injury. Join the D-Boys and Rangers on a quick raid gone wrong. Fast-rope into a crowded African city on a Sunday afternoon and smell, taste, hear, and touch the reality of true combat. Test your soul; what would you do if you were...
Published on April 16, 1999 by CBradshaw@aol.com

versus
50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Accurate Depiction, Somewhat biased.
The book provides incredible detail; however I think the book lacks in two key areas:
First, a lop-sided opinion of the soldiers involved. Specifically Paul Howe's assessment of the Ranger's abilities. The prevading theme I got was the Rangers were lucky to be alive, much less able to accomplish the mission. It seemed that parts of the book became a platform to...
Published on November 16, 1999


‹ Previous | 1 285 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

155 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bowden Captures the Horror of Modern Urban Warfare, April 16, 1999
By 
So you've never been in combat. Come to Mogadishu. Maybe you're the rear detachment company clerk who was called forward due to an injury. Join the D-Boys and Rangers on a quick raid gone wrong. Fast-rope into a crowded African city on a Sunday afternoon and smell, taste, hear, and touch the reality of true combat. Test your soul; what would you do if you were surrounded by thousands of deadly Somalis only miles from safety in the heart of their territory and there is a BLACK HAWK DOWN? Mark Bowden has taken his award winning series of newspaper articles written for the Philadelphia Inquirer and turned them into a must-read classic for all military professionals. He definitely took a modest assignment and overachieved; we are the beneficiaries. His detailed account of the Battle of the Black Sea (Mogadishu: 3-4 October 1993) is destined to occupy the bookshelves of every military professional or would-be warrior. Devour and enjoy Black Hawk Down. This book is not about your Grandfather or Father's war. This is about modern war involving many soldiers still on active duty. It's not about destroying tanks from 3,000 meters away. It's about close combat when the rules of engagement cease to have relevance and survival requires immediate instinctive response. This book is a crystal ball on future urban warfare and a cautionary note for contentious peacekeeping operations. The devil is in the details and you will not want for details. The gore, frustrations, disagreements, mistrusts, illusions, misconceptions, ramifications, difficulties, cowardice, and heroics are displayed for all to see. Sure there is some hype and inaccuracy, but no interesting microscopic analysis can exist without such blemishes. Seldom has such a discreet tactical operation had such far-reaching strategic consequences. U.S forces in Bosnia can attribute restrictive force protection measures to this battle's legacy. Future strategic, operational, and tactical leaders who do not assimilate the lessons of Mogadishu are in danger of repeating this tragic history. I strongly recommend this book. Learn what Delta Sergeants Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon did to earn the only Medals of Honor awarded for actions during the past quarter-century. Set aside a Sunday afternoon or a long night for continuous consumption. You will not want to put this book down once you start reading it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Objective History of Soldiers who were Down but not Out, August 18, 2001
By 
"deedawg" (Mesa, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
If Black Hawk Down was not nonfiction, I wouldn't have believed it. The heroic tale of a group of just over 100 U.S. Rangers, DELTA operators, and SEALs in the 15+ hour non-stop battle of their lives to survive against thousands of agressive,armed Somali militia should be near impossible for anyone to put down who has an interest in military history. However, the main strength of the book is delivered by the author Mark Bowden himself. As an investigative reporter, he takes pains not to play the role of a monday morning armchair quarterback, and as a result simply reports the facts surrounding the October 3-4, 1993 "Battle of the Black Sea" in Mogadishu. Throughout the book, I began seeking the military commanders or politicians who should be "blamed" for this mission gone so bad. Bowden doesn't provide the answers, but instead lets the reader come to his or her own conclusions. His research of first hand source material, documentation of his sources, and reliance on only first hand interviews is first rate and qualifies this book as an excellent work of History, not merely a piece of investigative journalism.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhausting, informative, thorough, demanding., March 14, 2002
This review is from: Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War (Paperback)
I read a fair amount of historical non-fiction and was taught throughout high school to think critically when reading. Check sources, check author's tone, point of the writing, points of view being used, context, and so forth. Apparently Mark Bowden, the author, comes from the same school of thought. He writes a thorough and genuine account of a sadly-ignored incident in US history.
I can recall the newspaper accounts of the time, wondering what we were doing there and why, after taking such incredible beatings, we were leaving. Rather than do the research to find out why, Mr. Bowden has compiled this book, which rightfully deserves its place on any historian's bookshelf.
Bowden's accounting of the events and context are flawless. His research is uncommonly thorough, and given the opportunity to write the first really comprehensive accounting of the events, he makes the most of it. His attention to detail, his recreation of the timeline, and his notes are worthy of emulation by future students of history.
All that is nothing without good writing, and Bowden keeps a reader locked into the story. As hard as some of it is to read because of the imagery and concomitant emotional responses, Bowden leads you through the battles at ground level, at eye level from helicopter platforms, at screen level from command centers. At the end of the book one wonders how you survive the reading; how much worse to have been there in it? I was exhausted mentally, and therein lies the demanding aspect of the book.
So much goes on, so many players become involved, that a cheet sheet and glossary of some terms would've helped immensely. Even a cast of characters would've been of some utility, but eventually, I just bore down and focused. Some questions were answered in the notes, others reveal their answers upon later reflection.
In all, I daresay adding my review to the nearly 400 others won't make someone any more inclined to buy a 5-star book if they've ignored the other 399 reviewers, but this is my review and I'm sticking to it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Night Stalkers Don't Quit, June 5, 2002
By 
Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, by Mark Bowden, is an in-the-streets account of the now infamous seventh mission of Task Force Ranger and Delta Force in Mogadishu, Somalia. Militarily, the mission was a success; politically, it was a disaster.
Black Hawk Down was recently released as a major motion picture. I haven't (yet) seen the film, but even to those who have I strongly suggest reading this book. In addition to being made as a movie, an even earlier version of this book appeared as a series of articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Additionally, there is a "companion documentary" (Somalia: Good Intentions, Deadly Results), a shorter version of which has appeared on CNN. Of course, the most famous media related to this story is the news footage of the dead American soldiers being dragged through the streets by angry mobs; second to that would be the image of Black Hawk pilot Mike Durant's smashed face in the video made of him by his captors. Both of these are around; if you really need a reminder, try Google.
In the 1990's, the United States found itself in three separate conflicts in (at least partially) Muslim lands. The Gulf War was a conventional military venture, the UN missions in the former Yugoslavia represented a basic-albeit convoluted-peace-keeping venture. The nation-building force in Somalia after the initial famine-busting mission heavily involved special operations. The first sent ripples among the military theorists of nations across the world; the second involved the civilizationally odd American preference to support the Muslim community over that of Orthodox and Western forces; the third was seen as a victory of sorts by Third Worlders and Islamists who drew from it the lesson that America could be shocked into backing out of a conflict. Understanding each of these conflicts-militarily, politically, and culturally-is important to understanding this greater conflict we are now in. Black Hawk Down does much to shed light on the personal and tactical elements in the Somlian campaign's bloodiest battle.
While Mark Bowden is a journalist and is quite clear about saying he has no background or experience in combat tactics, covert operations, military strategy, etc., this book is very illuminating. Since the book's publication, Bowden has been invited to address the Military Operations Research Society, the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (Ft. Leavenworth), and the Central Intelligence Agency. The book been personally recommended by the U.S. Marine Corps commandant and is part of the mandatory reading curriculum at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
So how did this journalist write something that garnered so much respect among military professionals? Quite simply, he tells the soldiers' tales and he tells them straight. The political backdrop, the larger strategic military picture, the command decisions made outside of Mog-these he treats lightly and only as much as needed to provide context for the first-hand accounts of the Americans and Somalis that were actually there. This is a street-level, blow-by-blow narrative of some of the most intense combat American forces have faced since the Vietnam War, and nearly every word of it is drawn either from interviews with combatants, from transcripts of radio traffic, or from video footage shot by U.S. military personnel.
I read this book over Memorial Day weekend this year. It was extremely appropriate. Overall I really enjoyed this book and feel I've learned quite a bit from the experience. I had already read a shorter account of overlapping events-from the CIA perspective-written by Vernon Loeb for the Washington Post, titled "After Action Report", but this book fills in details that the other perspective lacked. (At the same time, I strongly recommend you read "After Action Report" as well.) I've heard criticisms of the film that said it was often hard to tell one character from another; I could say the same for the book. At the same time, the sense of confusion that sometimes creeps into the narrative is, in fact, a natural consequence of the fact that this is combat, as experienced by modern soldiers. By the time you complete the book, you'll have enough information to get a remarkably complete picture of the "Battle of the Black Sea"; while in the midst of it, though, you may well find yourself flipping back through the book to remind yourself which unit and which part of the city you are currently reading about.
All in all, this is a book well worth reading, and have added it to my Warblogger's Bookshelf. It is an insight into the terrible human experience of modern warfare, set within a significant series of events whose importance were not fully understood in their own time. If it were fiction, I'd say it was a brilliant, thrilling "page turner"; it, however, is not. It is the story of a handful of American soldiers who really lived and (some of them) died, often in stunningly heroic ways. To understand a part of what emboldened enemies such as Al Qaeda, to learn what modern unconventional combat can be like, to renew your faith in the courage and skill of the folks in America's armed forces, read this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can't put "Black Hawk Down.", January 14, 2002
By A Customer
I served 12 years in the Air Force as a Combat Controller (AF Special Forces) and was last assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadrons at Hurlburt Field in Florida. Are motto, "First There, Last Out", pretty much sums up what we did. I have never read a book that more accurately captures the sentiment that a soldier never leaves a man (generic for person) behind...NEVER. It cost the Army 15 additional men, good men, attempting to save the soldiers in the bird that fell that day, but it was worth it. After all, try getting soldiers to fight for their country if they don't believe that their country will risk this much to save them if indeed they fall in combat. Although it has been said many times that we fight for God and country, those of us who have been in combat know that it is God and country that motivate us into battle but it is the man next to us that keeps us there, and keeps us going back in...until no one is left behind. It is for them that these brave soldiers fought and died, not for ideology or a blind sense of duty.
What had been portrayed as a series of screw-ups in the media was in actuality nothing of the sort. This book eloquently demonstrates that these soldiers accomplished every bit of their intended mission that day. The only screw-up occurred long before that day, when President Clinton, not unlike President Reagan before him, put our soldiers in harm's way without adequate support and with an untenable mission. This story shows that we can no longer afford to put our people in the middle of a target-rich environment and then shackle them to a rule of engagement that says only shoot when shot at. If a battle is waging and there are people on the rooftops, for instance, you can bet they are not there for shelter...those people are by definition combatants. One need not wait for them to take careful aim and pip off a surface-to-air rocket as they did here. An A-130 gunship would have saved 19 lives that day. It was in the futile attempt to spare innocent lives that these soldiers were sacrificed. Some day the politicians will learn that the military is designed to kill people and break things, not to surgically extract dictators or to carefully glean the subtle nuances between combatant and "casually-dressed woman pulling an AR-15 from a basket." By the time you recognize her as a combatant, you've lost three men.
Based on a recommendation, I recently read a book called Operation Pseudo Miranda and was mortified to see another example of politicians placing soldiers (in the war on drugs) in harms way without sufficient support or proper training. Not unlike Black Hawk Down, most of them got dead for their troubles. And not unlike Black Hawk Down, you feel as though you are there and are glad you are not. Read both.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Accurate Depiction, Somewhat biased., November 16, 1999
By A Customer
The book provides incredible detail; however I think the book lacks in two key areas:
First, a lop-sided opinion of the soldiers involved. Specifically Paul Howe's assessment of the Ranger's abilities. The prevading theme I got was the Rangers were lucky to be alive, much less able to accomplish the mission. It seemed that parts of the book became a platform to bash the Rangers.
Second, I think he (Bowden) slighted the efforts of the 10th Mountain Division QRF Relief Column. 2-14 Infantry did an OUTSTANDING job getting a multi-national relief column moving on such short notice. Again, the tone of the book suggests that 2-14 Infantry were a bunch of stooges not worthy of such operations.
Due to the budget cuts, every combat arms unit in the Army is an 'elite' unit. What I mean is we don't have excess resources; therefore every unit has a specific task to perform without any overhead. The National leadership made a bad call by not allowing armor into Somalia; instead the UNOSOM forces got a Light Infantry Batallion with a good commander at its helm.
I served in Somalia for 9 months with an Army Special Forces unit attached to UNOSOM; so if I'm arm-chair quarterbacking, it's from the front edge of the chair.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best reporting of a military action I've ever enountered, March 5, 2001
By 
Amazon Customer (Barrington, RI USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War (Paperback)
This book captures the horror and bravery of combat with a thorougness, and eloquence, that is worthy of the highest praise. I have never been in combat, I've never even been in the military, but after reading "Black Hawk Down" I feel I have gained some small appreciation of the astonishing bravery our troops call upon every day.
This is not an easy book to read. Almost from the start, the reader encounters American soldiers fighting for their lives in an immensely hostile city. Through a host of first hand accounts and thorough research, Bowden throws the reader into this maelstrom of lead and blood.
Furthermore, Bowden did not give short shrift to tactics and military reality in the pursuit of personal drama. In a step by step manner he walks the reader through the battle from start to finish. He pays great attention to the tactical decisions, both good and bad, that impacted the battle. At the same time, he considers the strategic environment these decisions were being made in, and evaluates the decision making from President Clinton on down.
"Black Hawk Down" is a superb tale of courage under fire, but more than that, it is an outstanding tactical history of a military engagement that will undoubtably loom large in any decision to commit US troops to foreign soil in the future. It is a must have for an student of military history and foreign policy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a book you should consider buying., February 5, 2001
By 
John Macejunas (Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War (Paperback)
This is a great book. I was in the battle recalled in this book, in the infamous "Delta Force". I know the brutality first hand. But what I especially like about this book is that Mark Bowden interviews people on both sides, so you could hear the Somali's side. Reading this book brought back bad memories of that horible conflict that was not known to most people. You should defenitly buy this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See The Movie, But Be Sure To Read The Book, January 27, 2002
By 
"gordon2974" (THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA) - See all my reviews
This is the story of Army Rangers. I went through Ranger Training. It was gruelling and character building. If not for that training, probably NO ONE would have made it that day in Somalia. That's why I have a problem with liberals who kind of pooh-pooh our training, from a distance, naturally. "Why should the USA be involved with anything that would require grunts with that kind of training", they ask? They just don't get it. I don't bother explaining. I just tell them to read the book, "West Point" by Norman Remick to get all the philosophical explanations on why our founding fathers decided America needed schools (thus, the name of the book) to train the military in courage, character, and leadership, the ultimate of which is Ranger School...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth is more entertaining than fiction, December 28, 2001
I read this book after hearing about the upcoming movie. All reviews I've seen have uniformly raved about this review and I will too. The book is a minute by minute account of raid into inner city Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993. Media reports at the time of the events in the book had left me with the impression that this episode was a disgraceful failure, what with American soldiers being dragged dead though the streets. I had at first been uninterested in this topic because of the aura of failure around the Somalia debacle. This book proves that that was not true. The men involved behaved heroically under unbelievably harrowing circumstances. The author highlights dozens of individual acts of heroism that in total make me admire and respect the men that fought and died there that day. The motives of the officers and politicians who ordered the raid at the Mogadishu apartment building are much more suspect. While Bowden's sympathies are completely with the men on the ground, he has at best neutral opinions of their leaders. Bowden even condones the shooting of hostile women and children as necessary and writes his account of these acts in such a way that the reader agrees. I read this book straight through over two days and a sleepless night; it was that good.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 285 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War
Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War by Mark Bowden (Paperback - March 1, 2000)
Used & New from: $0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.