A couple years back I saw an amazing movie, Black Hawk Down. I was so moved by the movie that once I heard it was based on a book I eventually went out and bought the book. Before I go into the book, I should make a not that I count the number of books I've read that I wasn't required for school without having to take off my shoes. Even though I'm not a big reader, I knew this would be something I'd enjoy. It did take me a while to finish with the book clocking in at 430 pages. Not to mention my penchant of reading my magazine subscriptions before getting back to my place in the book
As for the book itself, everyone should know the story by now. Like the movie, it chronicles the failed 1993 mission in the Somali capital of Mogadishu that ended with two Black Hawk helicopters being shot down by Somali insurgents that left many Americans solders dead or wounded. The movie itself did a very good job keeping with the spirit of the movie, but with the book at 430 pages, there were plenty of things that were left out of the 144 minute movie. Where the movie focused almost exclusively on the actual battle, the book covers more of led up to the conflict and goes more in depth analyzing the outcome. The movie also depicted only a handful of the solders that were involved the book profiles about three times more. The movie spent almost of the screen time focused exclusively on Somalia, but the book also looks into the families of the soldiers back home and also looks in on some of the response from Washington.
Included in the version of the book I bought (the Movie Tie-In Edition) was an eight page Afterword by author, Mark Bowen, written in 1999 as it was interesting to hear Bowen talk about the impact his book made (even before the movie was made), even being embraced by the military itself. It would be interesting to see what else he would say about the impact now that the movie has been released.
The Back Hawk Down incident is even relevant today as we are currently fighting a primarily urban war in Iraq. Many of the problems the soldiers were facing in Mogadishu, the current soldiers are facing in places like Baghdad and Fallujah with not being able to tell the difference between insurgent and civilians, the opposition carrying rocket launchers and other high-tech weapons, and questions of "why are we there?" from a portion of the population back home. Interestingly enough, Bowen said in the book that not finishing the job in Mogadishu would make the United States look week opening us up to attacks abroad thinking we would retreat like we did in 1993. And it looks like he was right with the Embassy attacks, the attack on the USS Cole, and later the September 11th attacks. Many experts even point to Somalia as the inspiration for Osoma bin Laden and Al-Quada.
Black Hawk Down a on my Terror Alert System.