I've wanted to read Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden ever since seeing Ridley Scott's adaptation a few years ago. The book and movie tell the story of the October 3, 1993 mission by Delta Force operators and Army Rangers into downtown Mogadishu to capture associates of Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Things went badly wrong, and as they say, the rest is history. The book is an amazing piece of combat journalism, full of amazing detail and vivid anecdotes. Like this darkly comic episode in the effort to capture Aidid.
[Major General William] Garrison knew from day one that intelligence was going to be a problem. The original plan had called for a daring, well-placed lead Somali spy, the head of the CIA's local operation, to present Aidid an elegant hand-carved cane soon after Task Force Ranger arrived. Embedded in the head of the cane was a homing beacon. It seemed like a sure thing until, on Garrison's first day in-country, Lieutenant Colonel Dave McKnight, his chief of staff, informed him that their lead informant had shot himself in the head playing Russian roulette. It was the kind of idiotic macho thing guys did when they'd lived too long on the edge. (p. 23)
More to come . . .