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Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles

by

Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"Yes, there have been many, many books about combat in the Gulf War, but none as beautifully written or as ferocious as Jarhead. Anthony Swofford's account of his life on the front lines is so honest and uncompromising as to be brutal." Adrienne Miller, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

"There are varieties of pain in Jarhead, submerged beneath the terrors of battle and the pangs of a rotten crotch, so exquisite they'd do a torturer proud. The biographical information on the book's jacket flap explains that Swofford attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and it's easy to imagine him there, this guy who read The Iliad during breaks in weapons training. I can picture him striving to make a new, better life that transcends the 'loneliness and poverty of spirit' of his jarhead adventures, while surrounded by fresh-faced, unscarred young aspirants who envy him his fabulous, fabulous material." Laura Miller, Salon.com (read the entire Salon review)

Synopses & Reviews

From Powells.com:

War is one of the few great literary topics. Since Homer immortalized the Trojan War 3,000 years ago, legions of writers have been glorifying, lamenting, dissecting, and parodying the soldier's life. So, can the world really bear yet another soldier's memoir? If the reception Anthony Swofford received last year for his Gulf War memoir is any indication, the answer is an unqualified yes. Only time will confirm or deny the early enthusiasm of reviewers, but if they got it right, Jarhead will remain in print for decades to come. This is not only because it is the best chronicle yet written about the soldier's life near the turn of the third millennium. But also because Anthony Swofford, like only the very best writers, is able to draw his readers into the particular conundrums, thrills, terrors, and absurdities of his experiences in the Persian Gulf and make us feel they are our own. Farley, Powells.com

Publisher Comments:

Anthony Swofford's Jarhead is the first Gulf War memoir by a frontline infantry marine, and it is a searing, unforgettable narrative.

When the marines — or "jarheads," as they call themselves — were sent in 1990 to Saudi Arabia to fight the Iraqis, Swofford was there, with a hundred-pound pack on his shoulders and a sniper's rifle in his hands. It was one misery upon another. He lived in sand for six months, his girlfriend back home betrayed him for a scrawny hotel clerk, he was punished by boredom and fear, he considered suicide, he pulled a gun on one of his fellow marines, and he was shot at by both Iraqis and Americans. At the end of the war, Swofford hiked for miles through a landscape of incinerated Iraqi soldiers and later was nearly killed in a booby-trapped Iraqi bunker.

Swofford weaves this experience of war with vivid accounts of boot camp (which included physical abuse by his drill instructor), reflections on the mythos of the marines, and remembrances of battles with lovers and family. As engagement with the Iraqis draws closer, he is forced to consider what it is to be an American, a soldier, a son of a soldier, and a man.

Unlike the real-time print and television coverage of the Gulf War, which was highly scripted by the Pentagon, Swofford's account subverts the conventional wisdom that U.S. military interventions are now merely surgical insertions of superior forces that result in few American casualties. Jarhead insists we remember the Americans who are in fact wounded or killed, the fields of smoking enemy corpses left behind, and the continuing difficulty that American soldiers have reentering civilian life.

A harrowing yet inspiring portrait of a tormented consciousness struggling for inner peace, Jarhead will elbow for room on that short shelf of American war classics that includes Philip Caputo's A Rumor of War and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, and be admired not only for the raw beauty of its prose but also for the depth of its pained heart.

Review:

"Jarhead is not only a work of reportage from a 'privileged' observer. It is also a display of genuine talent." Martin Amis

Review:

"Jarhead is some kind of classic, a bracing memoir of the 1991 Persian Gulf war that will go down with the best books ever written about military life." Mark Bowden, New York Times Book Review

Review:

"A witty, profane, down-in-the-sand account of the war many only know from CNN....With blunt language and bittersweet humor, [Swofford] vividly recounts the worrying, drinking, joking, lusting and just plain sitting around that his troop endured..." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Writing graphically and in the Marines' defiantly vulgar argot, Swofford candidly exhibits his negative feelings — and his comradeship with buddies belly to the sand." Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

Review:

"By turns profane and lyrical, swaggering and ruminative, Jarhead...is not only the most powerful memoir to emerge thus far from the last gulf war, but also a searing contribution to the literature of combat, a book that combines the black humor of Catch-22 with the savagery of Full Metal Jacket and the visceral detail of The Things They Carried." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

About the Author

Anthony Swofford served in a U.S. Marine Corps Surveillance and Target Acquisition/Scout-Sniper platoon during the Gulf War. After the war, he was educated at American River College; the University of California, Davis; and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has taught at the University of Iowa and Lewis and Clark College. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New York Times, Harper's, Men's Journal, The Iowa Review, and other publications. A Michener-Copernicus Fellowship recipient, he lives in New York.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

sbtucker, April 23, 2006 (view all comments by sbtucker)
Great novel about a difficult war, and if it would have been marketed for what it was (fiction), I would have less of a problem with it. THIS IS NO MEMOIR! Much like James Frey, Swofford has expanded and embellished his story to great extent--there is talk that he was not in a sniper unit, and the whole training portion of the novel is absurd. Beyond that, this novel cribs from my story, "Gymnasium," written in 1996, and published in 1998 in the Mississippi Review. Ultimately, this is the best of the genre, but it is a travesty that it was marketed as a memoir--Swofford and his press should be ashamed of themselves.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781416513407
Subtitle:
A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles
Author:
Swofford, Anthony
Publisher:
Pocket Books
Subject:
Military - United States
Subject:
Military
Subject:
Military - Persian Gulf War
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Movie or Television Tie-In
Subject:
Military - Persian Gulf War (1991)
Copyright:
Edition Description:
B101
Publication Date:
September 2005
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
6.75 x 4.19 in 6.335 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Military » Elite
History and Social Science » Military » General
History and Social Science » Military » Gulf Wars
History and Social Science » Military » Recent Military History
History and Social Science » Military » Sale Books
History and Social Science » Politics » Peace and War

Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles Used Mass Market
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Pocket Books - English 9781416513407 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "Yes, there have been many, many books about combat in the Gulf War, but none as beautifully written or as ferocious as Jarhead. Anthony Swofford's account of his life on the front lines is so honest and uncompromising as to be brutal." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review A Day" by , "There are varieties of pain in Jarhead, submerged beneath the terrors of battle and the pangs of a rotten crotch, so exquisite they'd do a torturer proud. The biographical information on the book's jacket flap explains that Swofford attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and it's easy to imagine him there, this guy who read The Iliad during breaks in weapons training. I can picture him striving to make a new, better life that transcends the 'loneliness and poverty of spirit' of his jarhead adventures, while surrounded by fresh-faced, unscarred young aspirants who envy him his fabulous, fabulous material." (read the entire Salon review)
"Review" by , "Jarhead is not only a work of reportage from a 'privileged' observer. It is also a display of genuine talent."
"Review" by , "Jarhead is some kind of classic, a bracing memoir of the 1991 Persian Gulf war that will go down with the best books ever written about military life."
"Review" by , "A witty, profane, down-in-the-sand account of the war many only know from CNN....With blunt language and bittersweet humor, [Swofford] vividly recounts the worrying, drinking, joking, lusting and just plain sitting around that his troop endured..."
"Review" by , "Writing graphically and in the Marines' defiantly vulgar argot, Swofford candidly exhibits his negative feelings — and his comradeship with buddies belly to the sand."
"Review" by , "By turns profane and lyrical, swaggering and ruminative, Jarhead...is not only the most powerful memoir to emerge thus far from the last gulf war, but also a searing contribution to the literature of combat, a book that combines the black humor of Catch-22 with the savagery of Full Metal Jacket and the visceral detail of The Things They Carried."
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