Synopses & Reviews
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, 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.
Jarhead insists we remember the Americans who are 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.
Author of No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home
Jarhead tells us why boys go to war and how they return as men, told by someone who truly knows the perils of battle -- a decorated veteran of the Gulf War. Anthony Swofford's courageous and lyric prose is matched by a searing personal honesty that will break your heart with its compassion. He reveals the inner life of a marine from boot camp to bombardment, to victory and peace. Like all great memoirs of war, humanity is at stake instead of politics. Anthony Swofford entered his adult life as a warrior, but has emerged as an artist of the highest order. This book is a great achievement. Everyone should read it.
About the Author
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 Ameican 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 Portland, Oregon, where he is at work on a novel.