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Black Hawk Down
Transcript of Black Hawk Down
A Story of Modern Warfare
The book describes the events that transpired in Sunday, October 3, 1993. A simple to capture some of the top officers of a Warlord in Mogadishu, Somalia that quickly spiraled out of control. What was supposed to be a one hour day mission, turned into a midnight firefight that left eighteen American soldiers dead, and dozens injured. The local toll was, far worse, with hundreds dead ans thousands injured. Told from the point of view of fighters on both sides, the book captures the essence of modern war, in all of its horror.
The book is told in the form of a narrative through the eyes of the men who were in battle as well as the men they fought.
This includes but not limited to:
SSG Matt Eversmann
MG William F. Garrison
Ali Hassan Mohamed
Sergeant Paul Howe
SPC John Stebbins
SPC John Waddell
SPC Shawn Nelson
SSG Ed Yurek
CWO Mike Durant
Each speaker is given no more than two chapters at a time to narrate a part of the story, allowing none of the characters to dominate and minimizing any biased in the story. It also creates feelings of suspense by switching between characters on climatic points and allowing for multiple story lines to play out at once.
The author wrote the book with the intent to paint a more accurate picture of modern war through the eyes of the worlds elite soldiers, the United States Task Force Rangers.
The books dominant theme is importance loyalty and courage in the face of fear.
Use of Language
Bowden uses extremely descriptive language, particularly when describing the gruesome injuries sustained by the fighters. This is in part attributed to much of the book being eye witness testimonies allowing for exquisite detail.
At the beginning of the story, many of the soldiers held themselves very high. They strutted around proudly and spoke words full of. The United Sated Rangers are the best trained soldiers in the world, only surpassed by Delta Company, or D-Boys as they are referred to as. Having already been through several successful missions, their egos where through the roof, which becomes evident as they boast of their invincibility, which is further boosted by the presence of the Black Hawks which are the pride of the US Army. This bravado quickly crumbles once it becomes apparent that there in and out mission becomes a serious fire fight.
Once the battle actual commences and combatants are introduced to their first kills and casualties, then a feeling that they haven't felt before sets in, fear. Unaccustomed to it, many of the soldiers have simultaneous moments of self doubt and when they begin to question their abilities to go through with the task at hand. Their loyalty to their comrades is tested as they discover what real courage is. To be afraid but still push forward despite it. In fact many of the make the decision, in the heat of battle, to re-enlist for another four terms despite the massive carnage around them, not because of their enjoyment of the battle, but because of the extreme sense of loyalty they feel towards one another.
By having more than one person speaking about the same events, the story is more well-rounded, instead of being a one track line. It provides more perspectives, different opinions, experiences, and reactions to the same events.
Much of the story was constructed from interviews by participants on both sides. This allows for vivid descriptions of what really happened that night, and no expense was spared to provide to most descriptive details possible.
Having more than one speaker also provides contradicting points of views. Where the Rangers believe their actions are just and see a bigger purpose, the Somalians see them as monsters, who only come to kill them and destroy what little they have left to capture people they see as noble.
Throughout the story their is extensive use of satire to explain mistakes caused by rash decisions made during the battle. In one instance, one of the rangers shoots a man who was carrying a weapon. As it turned out it was not so, but instead of saying it flat out, Bowden instead says "The man called the gun a "pig" (43).
Again first hand accounts allow for very vivid descriptions. Many of the Rangers describe the intense pains of being injured, the feelings of having scorching heat pass over them from grenades, and the dry sandy feeling in their mouths from dehydration.
With the battle raging around them, many of the Rangers turn to humor to get themselves through the night. The constant prolonging of their rescue turns into a joke. "Their on their way!" becomes the butt of a joke instead of a ray of hope. One of the Rangers goes as to suggest a "combat jack", or masturbate in the middle of combat as part of an ongoing competition between the Rangers to see who can find the most extreme place to do said deed.
Mike Durant, captured by Somalian soldiers.
Map of the Battle of Mogadishu
75th Ranger Regiment before deployment to battle
The crew of Super Six Four, the first black hawk shot down
SSG Matt Eversmann in the movie addaption of Black Hawk Down
The most obvious unique qualities of the book are that although the book is non-fiction, it is told as a narrative, and beyond that, told from multiple perspective. Beyond that, the book does a very good job of stunning the reader, via extremely graphic images of the outcomes of the battle and creating the suddenness of death and injury similar to what the soldiers experienced.Then their is also the extensive back stories to those who were interviewed that allows the reader to really connect with the characters and immerse them into the story.
After reading this book, I personally have a much deeper respect to the soldiers who are off fighting in the name of the United States, all over the world. They are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country and do so proudly. This makes me reevaluate my own prospects of pursuing a career in the military and the way i conduct myself currently in the JROTC program here at Lane Tech.
After its very successful debut, the story has been made into a major motion picture. But beyond the fame, the story made worldwide news, that included horrible images of those captured and killed in combat.
Similar Written works:
The Jungle- Both are very touching, a present a struggle that must be overcome by the characters.
The Cry of Icemark - Two military forces struggle against each other, in a struggle to kill or be killed. Also told from multiple perspectives.