Jarhead

Jarhead

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

Book - 2003
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Anthony Swofford'sJarheadis 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.Jarheadinsists 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,Jarheadwill elbow for room on that short shelf of American war classics that includes Philip Caputo'sA Rumor of Warand Tim O'Brien'sThe Things They Carried,and be admired not only for the raw beauty of its prose but also for the depth of its pained heart.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Scribner, c2003
ISBN: 9780743235358
0743235355
Branch Call Number: 956.7044245/SWO 4565 1

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lukasevansherman
Sep 17, 2015

Anthony Swofford's celebrated memoir of his time as a marine in the first Gulf War. It was praised for its rawness and unsentimental view of combat, but few pointed out that the Gulf War was hardly a major conflict for America and involved minimal fighting and few casualties. So it is interesting in the sense that it's about the build up to the war and the boredom that the men experience waiting around for combat. Yet this becomes somewhat tedious after a while and you can sense Swofford trying to make it more interesting, but you can't help but think, "This was hardly Tet or Omaha Beach." Worth reading for a look at an oft forgotten conflict, but not exactly a classic. A decent film version came out in 2005.

JCLHelenH Mar 05, 2013

I heard Swofford speak at the 2012 Disabled American Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, where he shared that re-adjusting to civilian life was very difficult. He writes beautifully about ugly and confusing things.

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