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Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails: A Memoir
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Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails: A Memoir

3.16  ·  Rating Details ·  267 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Following the success of Jarhead, Anthony Swofford assumed he had exorcised his military demons -- but as every veteran knows, that isn't exactly how it works. In these searing, courageous pages, Swofford struggles to make sense of what his military service meant, and to decide -- after nearly ending it -- what his life can and should become.

Consumed by drugs, booze, fast
Audio CD
Published June 5th 2012 by Hachette Audio (first published January 1st 2012)
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Petra Eggs
I'm really enjoying this book. I don't know why the average rating is so low, perhaps people were expecting Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles revisited. Swofford has a unique tone, a flat confessional affect that fits well in this biography that, at least as far as I've read, centres around the death of his older brother and his awful bitterness at his father.

In fact the author is so bitter that he pulls out letters years old from his father accusing him of petty cr
Mar 22, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a difficult book to assemble my thoughts on. Firstly, it wasn't what I was expecting it to be. Having just read Jarhead, I was expecting Swofford's second memoir to deal with his reintegration with society after his time in the war. In actuality, there is a gap of several years between the events in the two books.

There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but I have to admit it threw me and, as a result, I had trouble getting into this book at first.

Once I got past this, I found myself
Becky Sandham Mathwin
I give "Hotels, Hospitals and Jails" a very reluctant two stars. Anthony Swofford is a good writer and the book was somewhat entertaining but I really don't like him as a person and found a lot of the book really annoying. I wouldn't have finished it if it were something I were actually reading (I listened to it as an audio book).

The main topic of the book is Mr. Swofford's troubled relationship with his father but a big chunk of the book consists of Mr. Swofford bragging about all of the women
This book is about life after success for Anthony Swofford. In this memoir the author discusses his life after writing the popular Jarhead (which was also made into a movie). Basically, he lived a fast life: slept with multiple woman in a day, drove his car so fast and carelessly that he smashed it to pieces outside his home, and drank and did drugs liberally. Although that is the premise of the book the author focuses a lot of writing and energy on his relationship with his father. To say it is ...more
Roger DeBlanck
Nov 14, 2016 Roger DeBlanck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The mood Swofford creates in his memoir feels like an adrenaline rush. His recollections are lucid, frenetic, edgy, unabashed, and unapologetic. Each chapter scintillates with explosive prose and the pacing moves fast, but some chapters sting with insight while others, though interesting, feel like fillers. At times the book’s narration feels scattered and fragmented, and at other times its remembrances burst off the page in brilliant, heartbreaking fashion. At its core, the memoir is tremendous ...more
Jul 12, 2013 Renee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this audio book by chance at the library (written by the author of Jarhead), and felt like I was carrying an elephant on my chest as I read. Swofford describes his search for identity, meaning, and reconciliation with his dying father in the years after he returned from serving as a sniper in the Marines.

Swofford talks a life half lived consumed by drugs, drinking, expensive cars, and women, which had him on the brink of suicide. At times, I felt exhausted by the constant description
Aug 18, 2012 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you read Jarhead Anthony Swofford's really good memoir about being a sniper in the first Iraq War it probably would not surprise you that Swofford drank drugged and screwed like a maniac after he became famous and at least for a while rich. This memoir lacks the bite of Jarhead and the rejuvenated Swofford saved by the love of a good woman and a newborn baby seems about 5 years and another memoir away from how he survived the trauma of divorce and still stayed a good father. Swofford's recoll ...more
Sep 05, 2012 Geeta rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
The single star says it all. I did try, and I was halfway through a fifty-page dissection of a letter Swofford's father sent to him when I finally gave up, thanks to a book review in the Sunday NYT. It wasn't me, it was the book. Phew.

Swofford's hate-love relationship with his father, more hate than love, just wasn't that interesting. Neither was Swofford's use of sex, drugs and alcohol. I got tired of hearing about his awesome libido--I can't imagine a reader who wouldn't. I probably should hav
Jul 11, 2012 Brandon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
incredibly disappointed with this memoir; while i read & liked Jarhead, in H,H,&J i found many of Swofford's introspective instances vapid at best, "as shallow as a shower stall."

Swofford's immaturity is perhaps best highlighted in a chapter in which he systematical dismantles and provides counterpoints for an eight page long letter his father sent to him a few years back.

this not a man's memoir, but a teenage boy's diary, complete with Oedipal rage and boorish angst.

o and by the way,
Christa Parravani
I was fortunate to receive an early copy of this new memoir. It's blunt and beautiful. Swofford had written a book about fathers and sons and love that is full of gusto and courage. He lays himself bare on the page, risking everything. This book is a must read.
Anne Kadet
Asshole son writes about his asshole dad.
Nov 11, 2016 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title got my attention. I still can't believe I read this all the way through; a memoir of an ex-military man whining through drugs, booze, fast cars and women . . . who thinks his Viet Nam vet father hates him . . . not exactly my style but it was well written with humor and just enough self deprecation to keep my attention - hoping for something worth hearing. And it does end well with a good woman and children - every man's dream come true!
Alejandro Mujica
After Swofford's lukewarm first novel, Exit A, it's a pleasure to pore over his well-established memoirist prose again. Like a light continuation to Jarhead, Anthony Swofford covers the self-destructive lifestyle of a veteran and author who juggles lovers, drugs, and his career, all while butting heads with his terminally ill father—a man who Swofford wishes he took less from.

As the title hints, he stumbles through a bachelor's life—from woman to pill, to his father's RV, to the drunk tank, to
Jul 18, 2015 Robert rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x2014-15-season
One of the worst memoirs I've ever read. The author spends the whole book bragging about his sexual prowess and conquests while berating his own father for the same activities. Toward the end he tries to claim moral high ground by claiming (I paraphrase) "I did all my oat-sowing in my thirties, you did it while you were married. I'd never do that to my wife and children." Conveniently IGNORING the fact that he was already married and fucked around on his first wife. This isn't even the worst of ...more
Nov 22, 2012 Ken rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably most people who pick this up will be expecting 'Jarhead Revisited', and this is not the case. The book is a chronicle of the author's experiences 'after' he attained literary fame and fortune. However, many unresolved issues prevented him from enjoying his new life, and first and foremost was the fractured relationship with his father. This book is Anthony's attempt to rectify the situation, but it almost becomes a chronicle of the conflict between two extremely opinionated individuals ...more
Jun 19, 2012 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had read Jarhead and was interested in seeing what had transpired in Anthony Swofford's life since his best selling book was made into a movie. Swofford drags us along on nearly a decade of drugs, promiscuity, infidelity and other unsafe behaviors. It's kind of like watching a train wreck in slow motion. He also is trying and trying again to solve his hate/love/hate/love relationship with his father. In this book he details his family history as he looks for more differences between himself an ...more
Nov 11, 2012 SA rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I more or less read anything when it comes to Swofford. This book was a heart-wringer, and it was meant to be; his memoir of his own wrung-out heart laid across the page. People expecting the heir to Jarhead are likely to be disappointed, but there's a lot to dig into here. The frank way he deals with his own success and celebrity is clearly supposed to inspire disregard; it evidentially inspired disregard and no small self-loathing in Swofford himself.

Anyone who has ever had a strained relatio
Jun 02, 2012 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Swofford returns to the memoir with this exploration into the father-son dynamic via the capital-r, capital-t Road Trip. Except that the actual Road Trip is but a small piece of a much larger, much less packaged tableau of events in and out of Swofford's rise to literary fame post Jarhead. This is a fast read, and extremely interesting if you've ever wondered what happens when a serious writer tries to move like Mick Jagger (answer: they crash, burn, sign a lot of irresponsible leases, stock up ...more
Noelle Crisafulli
I got this book because I remember reading Jarhead and recommended it to my Marine friends. Then, reading this, I remembered that the main character (the author) was a jerk, but I admired him for gutting it out during the first Gulf War and then going on to the Iowa Writers Workshop and getting published.

This book just reinforces the idea that he is a jerk - a multi-philandering, money-wasting, drug-taking, irresponsible-drinking, jerk who also happens to have a dad who may be an even bigger je
Chris Campion
Feb 23, 2014 Chris Campion rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Swofford does it again with a fantastic memoir. Post "Jarhead," he finds himself with too much money and an urge for drinking, drug use, and endless sexual escapades. However, he soon finds that his life is empty and without substance. There is also the nagging fact that his father (a man whom Swofford has many issues with) is dying. And before that, Swofford's older brother has died.
Feeling like he wants to try and make sense of he and his father's fractured and uneasy relationship, he goes on
Aug 14, 2012 Corinne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't read Jarhead or see the film, but I went to a reading Swofford did in Sacramento and was moved by his words - and by seeing him with his wife and child. It seemed very obvious to me that having them in his life shifted Swofford for the better, and I wanted to read how he got from rock bottom to where he is now. This memoir tells that story beautifully. He is direct and unapologetic when he tells of his sexcapades, his drinking & drug use, and his hatred of his father. This book may ...more
Feb 25, 2013 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
"I am often asked about the wars. And I say that the wars are a waste of human life on both sides and a deep strategic blunder. But I had never sat in a room with a wounded marine. And I needed to do that. But I am no clearer on what the wars mean."

"....for men trying to bring life into the world? Two would be engaged in a fistfight, one would be doing whiskey shots in the corner, and the other would be on the floor in a fetal position, weeping."

"Mothers are immensely forgivable creatures."

"A st
Jul 22, 2012 Zoe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There's some very good writing in this book, but it's unfortunately clouded by a lot of not-so-good writing about unresolved father issues, a first marriage and divorce (mentioned only fleetingly, which makes me wonder if he's saving it for his next memoir), excessive drug use, unhealthy relationships, and compulsive sex in exotic locations. I also spotted a typo ("sad" instead of "said"), which bugged me more than it should have, likely because it reinforced my belief that this was churned out ...more
Robin Schoenthaler
Just couldn't take it, quit halfway through (a rarity for me). It slays me when men (still!) refer to the women as "the" -- "the" flight attendant, "the woman in the bed," "the girl in San Francisco."

I have a strong desire to see the world through a variety of men's eyes, but I have an even stronger sense of not wanting to waste time on books that make my stomach clench.

So back to the stacks with this one.

(A turn of phrase I'm guessing he might twist in some misogynist fashion, but perhaps no
Patti K
This 2012 memoir follows Swofford's first, Jarhead. It is a machismo tour de force
of his letdown after success and wealth arrivd from his first book. Too many drugs, alcohol,
and sex had him spiralling out of control. He fairly boasts of his "downfall" before
confronting his contentious relationship with his father. That part is worthwhile and
a fierce portrait of how connected we become with our parents, even if in rage.
The ending is a happy one, but nearly sounds too fortuitous and barely earned.
Oct 15, 2012 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tony Swofford is a brutally honest and good story teller. Tony joins the military to get away from a bad home life. Returns from the Gulf War, goes to college to become a writer and then writes Jarhead. This becomes a best selling book and movie. He makes obscene amounts of money - is out of control with spending, drinking, drugging and juggling sexual relationships with several women at a time. Not a very likable or dependable person. This book is his journey with coming to terms with his anger ...more
Apr 09, 2013 Denise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really, really, really loved Jarhead. And I really like Swofford's writing-- he's fast and his voice cuts right through the page.

But I have to wonder where his editor was on this. It seems like what would've been two or three excellent essays (and one of them, about meeting his wife, he read for a Moth Story Hour and was great) were stretched out to make a book. A lot of brain dumping and not enough real, cohesive content for me. A bit of a disappointment.
Kay Wright
A second memoir by the author of Jarhead. Tony Swofford updates us on how he lost all the money he made, ruined his relationships with everyone and finally found some peace with his father. It seems like every author has chosen PTSD to explain the bad behavior of their main characters. Tone has it in spades and we travel with him to redemption.
May 24, 2014 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Swofford's life apparently changed a lot after writing Jarhead, and this book talks about his life and troubles over several years, including the death of his brother, the illness and his relationship with his father, and his own bizzare lifestyle.

He's probably lucky just to have survived those years.
Sep 14, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
a hard one to start, rough to read all about the misery and hurt of one man and trying to come to terms with it in the unhealthiest manner possible. but then there is the end, and his wife and his daughter, and the reconciliation, and it is all beautiful.
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Anthony Swofford is a former United States Marine and author of the book Jarhead, published in 2003, which is primarily based on his accounts of various situations encountered in the first Gulf War.
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