Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles
Jarhead A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles Author:Anthony Swofford 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 snipe... more »r'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.« less
Like the experience of war that Anthony Swofford describes, this book is thrilling, funny, messy, both well and poorly done, capable of insight as well as surprising lapses of judgement, fascinating, and ultimately anti-climactic.
It has many faults, but never was I disappointed to have been reading, and always I wanted to continue, so I could see what would happen.
Anthony Swofford spares the reader nothing. I actually found myself cringing while reading this book.
I remember this war, this conflict, this whatever. I was glued 24/7 to CNN like the rest of the world. I really felt like I was 'supporting' the troops and the like. My dad was in Vietnam and I was absolutely militant about the troops. Any whiff that someone was less than enthused and I was like a rabid terrier. So while I was reading his account of the war, I was comparing in my head how I felt at the time with his actual experiences. In comparision, I was a real ass.
This book is a must read. Especially now. There are hundreds of thousands of Swoffords right now deployed. Read this book.
This is a grungy account of the US Marine Corps as it really is, without all the flag waving and hero BS. Heros they may well be, but salty grunts is also what they are. This shows the Corps warts and all from the inside by a man who was there and lived it and in spite of himself - loved it.
In his NY Times bestselling chronicle of military life, Anthony Swofford weaves his experiences in war w/ vivid accounts of boot camp, reflections on the mythos of the marines, and remembrances of battles w/lovers and family.