Mark Bowden

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Mark Bowden
Mark Bowden autographing at Air Force Academy.jpg
Mark Bowden signing a copy of Black Hawk Down at the United States Air Force Academy in 2011
Born Mark Robert Bowden
(1951-07-17) July 17, 1951 (age 66)
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Occupation Author
Nationality American
Notable works Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, Hue 1968

Mark Robert Bowden (born July 17, 1951) is an American writer and author. He is a National Correspondent for The Atlantic. He is best known for writing Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War about the 1993 U.S. military raid in Mogadishu, Somalia which became a major motion picture and Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw about Pablo Escobar, a Colombian drug lord.

Early Life

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he is a 1973 graduate of Loyola University Maryland.

While at Loyola, he was inspired to embark on a journalistic career by reading Tom Wolfe's book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.[1] In 2010, in his acceptance speech for a lifetime achievement award at the National Book Awards, Wolfe called Bowden one of the two "writers to watch" (along with Michael Lewis).[2]

From 1979 to 2003, Bowden was a staff writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Over the years, he has written for The New Yorker, Men's Journal, The Atlantic, Sports Illustrated, and Rolling Stone. Some of his awards are listed below. He has taught journalism and creative writing at Loyola University Maryland, and was Distinguished Writer in Residence at the University of Delaware from 2013-2017.

He currently lives in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Former Florida State Seminoles football coach Bobby Bowden is first cousin to Mark's father.

Controversies and criticism

From June 2012 through March 2013 the legal blog "Trials & Tribulations", which reports on Californian trials and legal affairs, has run a seven part series titled "Fact Checking Mark Bowden's Curious Vanity Fair Article on Stephanie Lazarus".[3] The blog series disputes facts in Bowden's July 2012 Vanity Fair article, "A Case So Cold It Was Blue",[4] suggests that quotes and states of mind of key persons in the narrative had been made up by Bowden to fit his story, and questions whether Bowden had done any relevant interviews or had attended a single day of the murder trial of former LAPD detective Stephanie Lazarus, whose case was the centerpiece of his story. In Part VI,[5] published on T&T in October 2012, Bowden's editor at Vanity Fair, Cullen Murphy, declined to comment on the record about the errors in Bowden's article. Part VII,[6] from March 2013, suggests that Bowden, who was not approached about the allegations prior to their posting, has since declined to respond to questions posed by the website's blogger regarding the disputed Vanity Fair story when asked either through Email or in person.

On coercive interrogation and torture

In the October 2003 issue of The Atlantic, Bowden's article "The Dark Art of Interrogation" [7] advocated a ban on all forms of coercive interrogation, but argued that in certain rare instances interrogators would be morally justified in breaking the law and ought to face the consequences. Written more than a year before the violations revealed at Abu Ghraib and other detention centers, it said, in part:

The Bush Administration has adopted exactly the right posture on the matter. Candor and consistency are not always public virtues. Torture is a crime against humanity, but coercion is an issue that is rightly handled with a wink, or even a touch of hypocrisy; it should be banned but also quietly practiced. Those who protest coercive methods will exaggerate their horrors, which is good: it generates a useful climate of fear. It is wise of the President to reiterate U.S. support for international agreements banning torture, and it is wise for American interrogators to employ whatever coercive methods work. It is also smart not to discuss the matter with anyone.

On pages 231–234 of the book The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson, Bowden's article is mentioned as a reference to the CIA's Project ARTICHOKE, a program to create ways of interrogating people that could be brutal or even fatal.

Future of the media

Bowden holds unconventional views on the future of the media in the 21st-century. He does not believe attention spans are shortening and believes young people are just as drawn to "deep" journalism as other generations. He stated in March 2009: "Nothing will ever replace language as the medium of thought, so nothing will replace the well-written, originally-reported story, or the well-reasoned essay."[8]


  • Winner Overseas Press Club's Cornelius Ryan Award as the best book of 2001 (for Killing Pablo)
  • Winner, Overseas Press Club's Hal Boyle Award for best reporting from abroad 1997 (for "Black Hawk Down")
  • Finalist, National Book Award, 1999 (for Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War)
  • Winner, Feature writing award from the Sunday Magazine Editors Association, 1987 (for "Finder's Keeper's")
  • Winner, Science Writing Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1980
  • Finalist, best newspaper writing, American Society of Newspaper Editors, 1979 (for "Life in the Projects")
  • Winner, Maryland Library Association's Maryland Author Award for nonfiction writing, 2011 (for body of work)
  • Winner, Gen. Wallace Greene Award for nonfiction writing, USMC Heritage Foundation 2018 (for "Hue 1968")
  • Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Award, History, 2018 (for "Hue 1968")
  • Finalist, The Andrew Carnegie Medal, Nonfiction, 2018 (for "Hue 1968")
  • Inductee, The Cybersecurity Canon 2018 (for "Worm')




Essays and reporting

  • Bowden, Mark (June 2013). "Abraham Lincoln is an idiot : the difficulty of recognizing excellence in its own time". The Culture File. History. The Atlantic. 311 (5): 40–41. Retrieved 2015-07-06. 



  1. ^ "My First Literary Crush",, November 15, 2005. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
  2. ^ "2010 National Book Awards, Part 1". C-SPAN. 17 November 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  3. ^ "Fact Checking Mark Bowden's Curious Vanity Fair Article on Stephanie Lazarus",
  4. ^ "A Case So Cold It Was Blue, July 2012"
  5. ^ "Fact Checking Mark Bowden's Curious Vanity Fair Article on Stephanie Lazarus"
  6. ^ "Fact Checking Mark Bowden's Curious Vanity Fair Article on Stephanie Lazarus"
  7. ^ "The Dark Art of Interrogation", The Atlantic, October 2003. Retrieved September 12, 2010.
  8. ^ "Special Guest: Mark Bowden (Part 2)", Bellum, A Project of The Stanford Review, March 17th, 2009.
  9. ^ Taylor, Ihsan, "The Best Game Ever: Interview With Mark Bowden", The New York Times, December 25, 2008, 12:55 am. Retrieved 2011-08-17.
  10. ^ "The 'Worm' That Could Bring Down The Internet", author interview (audio and transcript), Fresh Air on NPR, September 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-27.
  11. ^ Daugherty bio, Armstrong Atlantic State University; and "William J. Daugherty: Bringing terrorists to justice", opinion, Savannah Morning News, January 8, 2010. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  12. ^ "History TV Shows". Retrieved 2014-04-28. [permanent dead link]

External links

  • Mark Bowden on IMDb
  • Works by Mark Bowden at The Atlantic
  • Works by Mark Bowden at Vanity Fair
  • Biography: Mark Bowden
  • Atlantic Monthly Biography
  • Interview on Guests of the Ayatollah at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library on June 7, 2006
  • Bowden discusses The Finish at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library on December 12, 2012
  • The Dark Art of Interrogation, The Atlantic Monthly, October 2003 retrieved September 12, 2010
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
    • In Depth interview with Bowden, June 4, 2006
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