A Conversation for 'Black Hawk Down' - An American Fable

Missing the point...

Post 1

Jimi X

I still say that this entry and the BBC review of the film are missing the point.

The book (which was *much* better than the film see A510472) makes no attempt to paint a world-view to frame this firefight. It is simply a report of the fighting.

What took place, how it took place, who died, etc.

There is no attempt to justify American actions in the book. The soldiers were there because they were ordered to be there. Period.

They were excited to be going on a 'wet' mission because they had had dozens of aborted missions and were tired of getting prepared mentally for combat and then having a letdown.

The book also interviews several Somalis for their perspective of the events of that day. And it mentions the attack on the tribal leaders by the attack helicopter.

Sure the film was missing a lot of important detail and added stuff 'creatively' that didn't belong. But I guess I don't want to see a good book be painted with the same brush as the Hollywood version of the story.

Perhaps a title change to mention that this entry focusses on the film version?

Missing the point...

Post 2


Hello chaps -

I haven't seen the film, because it looked very rubbish, but I have read the book, so I'd just like to echo some of Mr X's comments.

I ran out of books on holiday and found this at the villa. I don't normally read stuff like this because I'm a pinko, but I found it very interesting. It is predominantly American-orientated, but there are Somali accounts in there, which are very illuminating. Basically the book is a chronologically sequenced series of transcripts with the people involved, so it is a fairly reliable source.

For me, the great pity of the whole debacle was that it lead to a concept in foreign policy called the Mogadishu line - the line being the difference between peace-keeping and 'peace enforcement'. Post Somalia, and as a consequence of this, UN nations in general and the Americans in particular were very unwilling to commit combat troops to such situations as Rwanda and the Balkan conflict. Therefore, the only international intervention was a token force with no political will behind it. And in Rwanda this actually made the situation a lot worse.

I got most of this stuff out of a fascinating book about the UN peacekeeping missions - Deliver Us From Evil, by a bloke called William Shawcross. I'd recommend this to anyone who read Black Hawk Down and wanted to know more about the politics behind this and similar conflicts.

Chin chin


Missing the point...

Post 3

Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron

I've read the book now. It was really good. The movie was a simplistic look at some of the material in the book. I enjoyed the movie to a point, but find some bits disappointing having read the book.

I found the book to be a little strange the way it kept flashing back to explain the back story. You're three-eighths of the way through the book before you can really tell what started the fight.

Missing the point...

Post 4

Jimi X

But isn't it always that way in combat?

You don't find you why you were over there until you're home...

Missing the point...

Post 5

Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron

In the Gulf War we knew why we were there. We were there because Iraq conquered a sovreign nation and was poised to invade another nation. His aggression threatened the stability of the area and our oil prices.

Now I didn't really know what we were doing while we were there. We could listen to the radio news, but that wasn't really enlightening. I kept hearing about the video of the smart bombs, and I wanted to see what that was like. At the time we were busy moving east to the border with Iraq and then across the border en route to Basra.

During the ground war things were fairly sketchy. We had been briefed on the basics of what we were doing. I didn't really remember very much of it. My job was basically go when they told me to go and do what I was told to do. The only thing that I was aware of was that we weren't stopping when we had planned.

Missing the point...

Post 6

Lonnytunes - Winter Is Here

We await the day when American movie theatres install bookshops from which they can promote sales of a movies source matarial - books, news reports, that sort of stuff...

I'm not holding my breath.

Missing the point...

Post 7

Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron

There are plenty of bookstores that you can go to already. Many theaters are next to or in malls or shopping areas. The one I go to is in the same parking lot of a Barnes & Noble. If we're early for a movie, that's where we wait quite often.

Missing the point...

Post 8

Apparition™ (Mourning Empty the best uncle anyone could wish for)

"and our oil prices." Shouldn't that read our oil prices then everything else.

Every now and then hollywood makes something about war that's worth watching like three kings.

It seems that most of the time fact is fact and fiction is fiction and grey area is hollywood. Everyone who loves a book hates the movie or is at least dissapointed. Even a fiction movie based from a fiction book, a 1 1/2 hour movie never does a book justice.

Missing the point...

Post 9

Researcher 200469

I'd have to agree that the movie wouldn't be a good source for the events that took place in Mogadishu. Most of whatever comes out of Hollywood has nothing to do with the truth of the situation but everything to do with visuals and "artistic license". Most, almost all, of the movies that come out of Hollywood are made only to make money. Hollywood also has a tight format that every movie has to be successful. Another thing is that the general American public wouldn't go see a movie in which the American solders are the "evil ones". The audience is slowly growing out of this phase but it will take time before we're equal with the European tastes and understanding.

Missing the point...

Post 10


I'd love to do a subversive movie like that -say, some pooor white and black serf type medieval people with american accents fighting for freedom against ultra rich, technically advanced Asian civilisation, who are barely seen - until at the end, as the American speakers finally win, we see the Asians equipment is circa 1975, coated in US military markings smiley - winkeye.

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