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Book/Movie: Black Hawk Down

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Finished this a week or so ago. A great book, a fantastic book. It's amazing that so much detail could be extracted from an event that had to be so chaotic for those involved. Bowden covers a lot of material, from the mundane day-to-day monotony of preparing for missions that will be cancelled, to the spiritual conflicts involved, to the consequences of bad decisions made on the battlefield. It's easy to see why the author has been popular among members of the military, because the book accurately captures the nature and experience of armed conflict.

The Movie:
It bothers me when I see criticisms of the movie (not the book) that harp on the fact that it doesn't have a central plot structure like Saving Private Ryan or other war movies. Those types of criticisms seem to miss the point, at least to me. The movie is the first big screen portrayal of modern war that I know of, a type of war that isn't fought above the ground inside of airplanes, or behind a television monitoring a smart bomb, or a war that's fought in a remote jungle. Black Hawk Down was urban warfare, fought by American ground soldiers, where our technological superiority was made vulnerable by sheer numbers and innocents didn't have time to get out of the way.

The movie isn't important because it tells a good love story, or because we personally identify with a lead character's troubles. Instead, it reveal our vulnerabilities. It shows the difficulties of executing good intentions and America's ineffectual role as a nation builder. It shows us the consequences of our decisions to use force in carrying out foreign policy.

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on March 12, 2002 10:21 PM.

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