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In The Company Of Heroes


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Michael J. Durant retired from the Army as a CW4 Blackhawk helicopter master aviator in the 160th SOAR (A), the Night Stalkers. He participated in combat operations Prime Chance, Just Cause, Desert Storm and Gothic Serpent. His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor Device, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Medals, POW/MIA ribbon and numerous others. He and his wife Lisa have five children. Steven Hartov is an Airborne veteran and author of the international thrillers The Heat of Ramadan, The Nylon Hand of God and The Devil's Shepherd. His non-fiction has appeared in Special Operations Quarterly, Counterstrike and The Journal of International Security. He has two sons.


Adult/High School-A decade ago, Durant and his crew were shot down while flying a U.S. Army Special Operations Black Hawk helicopter in the heart of Mogadishu. The only survivor after a firefight with hostile forces of warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid, the author recounts the conditions of his 11 days in captivity, with experiences that ranged from heroic to gruesome, harrowing, bizarre, and compassionate. Suffering severe injuries to his back, leg, and face, moved under guard through a sequence of rudimentary facilities in a volatile combat environment, and facing the deadly risk of discovery by rival clans, Durant became a political pawn receiving global media attention. Readers of Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down (Atlantic Monthly, 1999) who wished for a more technically detailed analysis of the mission's operational aspects will savor this account. The book also incorporates chapters on the arduous training required to earn a spot in an elite squadron and lays groundwork for appreciating the Mogadishu engagement by describing prior high-risk special operations in Korea, Panama, and Iraq in which Durant participated. Each episode resonates with the sense of bonding among combat brethren, and the professional esprit and conviction behind mottoes such as "NSDQ" (Night Stalkers Don't Quit), as exemplified by Durant's squadron mates who flew above the embattled city in the days after his shoot-down, broadcasting: "Mike Durant-. We will not leave without you." A dramatic narrative by a talented storyteller.-Lynn Nutwell, Fairfax City Regional Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

If some of the events seem familiar, it's hardly surprising. For Durant, a member of the American Special Forces Group, was serving in Somalia in the summer of 1993. On helicopter duty in Mogadishu, he was shot down. Taken captive by Somali troops after a bloody fight, his image appeared in the media around the world as, after coercive torture, he was forced to make anti-American propaganda. The recent Hollywood blockbuster Blackhawk Down (after the bestseller by Mark Bowden) covered the battle during which Durant was captured, and this new book is a chance for those who enjoyed that earlier account to read another, just as gripping, about the conflict and its aftermath. Hot after the Gulf War, and with a brave, true tale to tell in the first person, this is the sort of book which itself should lead to some minor scuffles - if only at the tills.

Black Hawk pilot Durant recalls his ordeal. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

The 1993 battle in Mogadishu between American soldiers and Somali militiamen gets a human-scale retelling in this jaunty but harrowing memoir. Durant went down with the Black Hawk he piloted; after a terrifying crash in which his back and leg were broken and a violent fire-fight, he was held captive for ten days by Somali militiamen as a pawn in their stand-off with American peacekeeping forces. Frightened and in agony from his wounds, he called on his survival training to help him endure, but he also relied on the empathy of some of his Somali captors, especially the gruff but sympathetic guard who feeds, bathes and bonds with him. Durant is a gung-ho army honcho, not much given to introspection, and the book often takes leave of the captivity narrative to recount his exploits in conflicts from Panama to Iraq, and to celebrate the bravado and leave-no-man-behind esprit-de-corps of his elite "Night Stalkers" helicopter unit. The writing is full of terse jargon, weapons specs, helicopter-assault procedural and special-ops swagger ("They were the kind of professionals who could pick off a rabbit from a roller-coaster with a BB gun"). But overall the story remains taut, and the prose evokes both the chaos of combat and the anxiety of confinement. Durant's perspective on the Somalia conflict is somewhat limited and jingoistic ("Mogadishu was Tombstone, and we were Wyatt Earp"), but his is a revealing portrait of the human face of war. 16 pages of b&w photos. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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