Publication Date: May 3, 2012
The Mogadishu Diaries: 1992-1993 Bloodlines by Eddie Thompkins III is a fictional account detailing the real events surrounding Operation Restore Hope, a military relief mission to Somalia. The story follows the footsteps of Gunnery Sergeant Thompson from volunteering for the mission to his final days in Somalia.
As histories of military engagements go, The Mogadishu Diaries: 1992-1993 Bloodlines was more personal than most. Thompkins establishes Thompson’s character for us at the beginning with a slightly too heroic brush. As the narrative goes on, he becomes more real, but in the way of the cousin’s boyfriend who tries to impress you with everyone, he’s “told off” and gotten the better of despite that not being how life works. Thompson addresses issues with a modern, liberal brush that may not have been so accepted in 1992 in the Marine Corp…notably gays in the military and his gay superior officer being accorded every advance Thompson made in the Marine Corp.
That said, The Mogadishu Diaries: 1992-1993 Bloodlines is an interesting tale that educates the reader in the working of the military during foreign operations and at home. In one scene, the toilet was an open plan outhouse with three seats so that a sign had to be flipped to “female” when a woman went in to do her business. In a second scene, a surly teenager demands that the officers salute her car because it has a blue sticker. In a third scene, a woman is awarded privacy for sexual encounters (known as a “sex-chit”) assumed to be with her husband twice a week. Thompson soon discovers that the woman and her husband have been separated for a long time, but doesn’t give the woman away. Each scene is a look into military life abroad.
Thompkins uses everyday speech in his writing. “Anyways” is frequently used, along with other not quite right phrasings. The vernacular sets a certain comfortable tone with the reader and doesn’t distract from the story.
The danger in the storyline is palpable and real. Gang rapists, raiders and terrorists are helped by a populace that is monitored by the military and deprived of their means of defense. I did have to chuckle at seeing a list of the world’s most dangerous cities in 1991, which included Mogadishu as the top, with Detroit, MI (I grew up in the metro area) high on the list. Thompkins highlights the danger of bringing American values, while we sit safely in our homes, to the very violent streets of a foreign country. Often Thompson and his friends skirt the rules and always the readers can see it as a necessity.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Mogadishu Diaries: 1992-1993 Bloodlines. Click here for video of the real climactic event in the narrative. A sequel titled Insider Threat is due for release early this year.
Read an excerpt and buy The Mogadishu Diaries: 1992-1993 Bloodlines by Eddie Thompkins III on