Mark Bowden

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Mark Bowden
Bowden at the 2018 U.S. National Book Festival
Bowden at the 2018 U.S. National Book Festival
Born Mark Robert Bowden
(1951-07-17) July 17, 1951 (age 67)
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 journalist and writer. He is a National Correspondent for The Atlantic. He is best known for his book Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War (1999) about the 1993 U.S. military raid in Mogadishu, Somalia. It was adapted as a motion picture of the same name and received two Academy Awards.

He is also known for Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw (2001) about the efforts to take Pablo Escobar, a Colombian drug lord.

Early life

Born in 1951 in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1951, Bowden is a 1973 graduate of Loyola University Maryland. At college he was inspired to embark on a career in journalism by reading Tom Wolfe's book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.[1]


From 1979 to 2003, Bowden was a staff writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer. In that role, he was an embedded journalist with United States forces during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia, after the United Nations was withdrawing its peacekeeping troops. He published a 29-article series on the events, which he drew from for his book Black Hawk Down (1999). It was later adapted as a film.

Bowden has also 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 lives in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

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


From June 2012 through March 2013, the legal blog Trials & Tribulations (T&T), which reports on California trials and legal affairs, ran a seven-part series titled "Fact Checking Mark Bowden's Curious Vanity Fair Article on Stephanie Lazarus".[2] This series disputes elements of Bowden's July 2012 Vanity Fair article, "A Case So Cold It Was Blue".[3] The author suggests that Bowden may have created quotes and states of mind of principals to fit his story, and questions whether the journalist had conducted relevant interviews or attended a single day of the murder trial of former LAPD detective Stephanie Lazarus, although this case was the centerpiece of his story.

Part VI of the series, published on T&T in October 2012, noted that Cullen Murphy, Bowden's editor at Vanity Fair, declined to comment on the record about the allegations related to Bowden's article. Part VII,[4] published in March 2013, said that Bowden, who was not approached about the blog's allegations prior to their posting, had since declined to respond to questions posed by the website's blogger regarding his article.

On coercive interrogation and torture

In the October 2003 issue of The Atlantic, Bowden's article "The Dark Art of Interrogation" [5] advocated a ban on all forms of coercive interrogation. He said 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 of prisoners revealed at Abu Ghraib and other detention centers, he wrote, 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.

In The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson, he noted Bowden's article as a reference to the CIA's Project ARTICHOKE.[6] This program developed physical methods to use during interrogations that Ronson noted could be brutal or fatal.

Future of the media

Bowden believes young people are just as drawn to "deep" journalism as other generations have been. He said 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."[7]


  • Winner Overseas Press Club's Cornelius Ryan Award for the best book of 2001 (for Killing Pablo)
  • 1997 Winner, Overseas Press Club's Hal Boyle Award for "best reporting from abroad" (for articles published in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the Battle of Mogadishu
  • 1999, finalist, National Book Award for Black Hawk Down
  • 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)




  • Executive Secrets: Covert Action and the Presidency (2004) by William J. Daughty, professor, former CIA operations officer and former Iran hostage[10](Foreword by Bowden) ISBN 0-8131-2334-8
  • Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad (2005) by David Zucchino (foreword by Bowden); ISBN 0-87113-911-1

Essays and reporting

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

Adapted for film


  1. ^ "My First Literary Crush",, November 15, 2005. Retrieved January 9, 2011.
  2. ^ "Fact Checking Mark Bowden's Curious Vanity Fair Article on Stephanie Lazarus", Sprocket-Trials
  3. ^ Mark Bowden, "A Case So Cold It Was Blue, July 2012", Vanity Fair, July 2012
  4. ^ "Fact Checking Mark Bowden's Curious Vanity Fair Article on Stephanie Lazarus"
  5. ^ "The Dark Art of Interrogation", The Atlantic, October 2003. Retrieved September 12, 2010.
  6. ^ Jon Ronson, The Men Who Stare at Goats, pp. 231–234
  7. ^ "Special Guest: Mark Bowden (Part 2)", Bellum, A Project of The Stanford Review, March 17, 2009.
  8. ^ Taylor, Ihsan, "The Best Game Ever: Interview With Mark Bowden", The New York Times, December 25, 2008, 12:55 am. Retrieved 2011-08-17.
  9. ^ "The 'Worm' That Could Bring Down The Internet", author interview (audio and transcript), Fresh Air on NPR, September 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-27.
  10. ^ Daugherty bio Archived 2012-04-02 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ "History TV Shows". Retrieved 2014-04-28. [permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Leane, Rob (July 7, 2017). "Michael Mann to direct a Vietnam War TV series". denofgeek. Retrieved July 21, 2018.

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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