Boston Public Library
Teens

Black Hawk Down – A Review

by Anna

Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden

Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room

This is the true story of what happened when an elite group of soldiers went into the city of Mogadishu, Somalia in order to capture an enemy. The capture was only supposed to take an hour. Instead, the American troops were surprised by the retaliation of Somalian people unwilling to let their leader go. The American soldiers were trapped, pinned down in several different areas of the city while a ground transport convoy wandered, lost, and getting torn to shreds trying to find them. Meanwhile, two Black Hawk helecopters were downed by RPGs, and no one in the air command could help ground troops get to them in time. 

At times this mission seemed like a black comedy when nothing was going right. In the middle of the night, many hours after the mission was supposed to have ended, the ground forces were trying to meet up. Yet, they couldn’t find each other, feeling like each group were miles away even though they were actually sometimes only as far away as a few feet, separated by a simple concrete wall. This was a fantastic read, that had me riveted all the way though. I shook my head at the black comedy, frustrated that nothing was going right. Bowden made sure you felt each death as if these men in uniform were your own best friends. He writes in an afterword, published in 2010, that he meant to write the book as if it were the men themselves telling the story. He wanted to take himself out of the picture entirely, and I think he did a fantastic job. It was the right way to tell the story of these guys. But, not only does he tell the American side, he also went to Mogadishu and interviewed several locals to get their side of the story.

All I can really say is… wow. What a terrifying, comedic, brutal, truthful book. All I can say is, if you like reading about the military, or you’re thinking of joining, definitely read this book first. This does not diminish the truth of war by any stretch of the imagination.   

Just an update on my personal summer reading list, these are the three books I have left to read in August:

Doomwyte by Brian Jacques

Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

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