The two stories that will be discussed are The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger and Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden.
Junger wrote a book about the true story of the Perfect Storm of 1991 that devastated much of the Northeast of the United States. It is a story of men against the sea. It began as a weather forecast to the masses that ultimately caused havoc and death to its victims. Black Hawk Down is a story of then the longest sustained firefight of American forces since Vietnam. In the city of Mogadishu, over one hundred American troops became helpless once two of their Black Hawk helicopters got shot down. Their story is a story of modern warfare.
The story of The Perfect Storm started for Junger as a news headline. As a native New Englander, he had known of the dangers of the fishing industry, but never had he seen the pure devastation of late summer in 1991. The central problem for him was that he was telling the story of a ship that sank. Yet from this disadvantage, he instead incorporated the whole story of the sea. Through prior storms and survivor stories, the picture of how it felt somewhat became more apparent. The explanation of sea faring terms helped the reader understand some of the jargon that was included.
The story goes from scattered news reports to a comprehensive story of all the participants, whether it was the people at the Crow’s Nest, the Andrea Gail’s crew, other ships out weathering the storm, or the brave Coast Guard, to ultimately a film with pure drama and the showing of man against the unforgivable destruction of the sea. The news reports are most of the time the initial medium as to how one learns of a story. Junger’s book shows the overall effect of the whole event and the movie shows a way it could have happened for the Andrea Gail. The book by Sebastian Junger painted the best picture about what it would have been like for the crew of the Andrea Gail. The book also was the most entertaining for me because I enjoyed getting immersed with all the details of the sea. Whether it was the old fisherman stories or the description of how it feels to be drowning, I gained an intimate picture of the beauty and horror of the sea.
Black Hawk Down tells the story of US Rangers and Delta forces who were sent to end Mohamed Farrah Aidid vicious reign over his fellow countrymen. The story started out for the author as aheadline on the news. The dragging of dead American soldiers through the streets of Mogadishu gave the viewer the question of how could this have happened. The result was a book that gives in gripping detail the deaths of young men, American and Somali, and the pure anarchy that erupted for both parties in those ensuing eighteen hours.
The Battle of Mogadishu is best told in the book by author Mark Bowden. His sources for the making of the book included interviews with people from both sides of the conflict. Whether it was conducting interviews at Fort Benning or in a house in Mogadishu, the author managed to obtain the needed information to make the story come alive to the reader. The book was the most entertaining medium for me. It was also the most truthful due to the extensive research including some classified information such as the Delta members’ accounts of the battle. The book itself gave the reader the information to recreate the battle in his mind. The movie definitely had a stronger visual impact yet the idea of creating in your mind the events has a lasting impact. The words mean that much more.
The evolution of each story from its infancy to a book and then into a film shows the process stories go through. For both books, the story upon which they were written originated from initial news reports. Yet through the books and films that were made about both of these events, the events themselves became a timeless thing and an eternal story. War and the sea were the settings for each of these horrible events to take place. Yet from this came the stories that we are left with today, but it’s not the stories, it’s how you tell them. In my opinion, the books based on each of the events gave the best recreation of what actually happened. You finish reading and have a sense of what it might have been like to be aboard a sinking ship. You read about a fellow soldier dying from a single shot and suddenly, you feel the shock and sadness his fellow team felt. You in a sense become part of the story and it becomes part of you.