Friday, December 5, 2008

Black Hawk Down -a review 15 years later

just finished reading Mark Bowden's awesome 'Black Hawk Down'. i'm glad i did.

it happened so long ago, but battles such as this have been happening ever since that fateful night of october 3, 1993. It's been 15 years since this battle took place, but there is still a lot the general public doesn't understand and/or realize about what happened back then. There is still a lot we don't realize about what our forces are up to now, scattered out in the far reaches of the world.

it is well-researched and vivid accounts such as this that bring their struggles painfully close. In turn, we may understand a bit more of the politics and policies of our beloved government and our military, the intricate battles we wage, and why.

i can't urge you enough, to read this book- if you have any interest in historical conflicts, a gruesome curiosity of the horrors of battle, or any interest in the real, gritty, and harrowing battle that took place in mogadishu, somalia.

there were certain chapters and moments in the book, that brought to mind the feeling of watching the battle scenes in Saving Private Ryan. an almost claustrophobic, bitter feeling of anger and frustration and sorrow all at once. i actually felt the tenseness of being there, moving down the chaotic alleyways which became a gauntlet of bullets and rockets flying in seemingly every direction. the extreme despair of driving the humvees in an attempt to get to the first crashed MH-60 chopper, then getting wrong directions, turning in circles and against roadblocked dead ends, watching your buddies get picked off one-by-one and suffering a hailstorm of gunfire and RPG fire against the crippled vehicles...then having to back-track and go through it all over again to get back to base-is one of the more maddeningly sad moments of the battle.

There were moments of mindless heroism, close calls, unfortunate casualties, determined improvisation by experienced Delta forces, and moments of extreme shock scattered every few seconds of a very long night. The skill and chivalry of the 'little birds' and and remaining black hawk crews must have been a site to see, as they patrolled, sprayed deadly suppressive fire, and attempted to guide the ground forces in vain from the air for hours and hours on end.

It is truly a tale of heroism. It is also a cautionary tale, of political miss-steps, communication errors, and an observation in tragedy from within the fog of war.

Upon finishing this book, you will be humbled, weary, perhaps bitter and resentful for a multitude of reasons which you would learn here.

But also, you will be thankful for the fact that there were once, and are still, brave young men that sacrifice their very lives for those of others, unappreciated or otherwise.

p.s. i would highly suggest reflecting on the books events with the excellent movie by Ridley Scott. you can't fit the entire book into the movie, but they did a damn good job capturing the feeling of what happened.

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