Roger DeBlanck's Reviews > Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles

Jarhead by Anthony Swofford
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Jan 27, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction

As a former U.S. Marine sniper, Anthony Swofford offers an unrelenting and honest memoir that delves into the heart of the soldier. Along with war’s drama and horror, the aftermath and psychosis of war are examined in Swofford’s keen reflections and anecdotes. He addresses the difficulty of the marine re-adapting to everyday life after the first Gulf War. He explains what a soldier sees, does, and feels and how all of it compounds to an overload of emotional instability that makes the transition back to pre-war life nearly impossible or at the least forever impaired. The experience of soldiering never leaves the soldier’s mind. He forever lives with a haunting awareness of what he has done and seen, and various indelible images can never be erased from memory. Swofford takes the writer/philosopher approach to the institution of the military. In this way, his book draws comparisons with classics such as Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and Philip Caputo’s A Rumor of War. Similar to O’Brien and Caputo before him, Swofford’s book imparts a passion and raw beauty that is choked with pain and scarring. His work acts like a purging that allows him to transform the brutality, guilt, shame, and confusion of war into a semblance of hope in the self to carry on living now that he has survived the experience of combat. Swofford’s prose and style make for some dense passages, but they bristle with intelligence and sincerity. Jarhead hits a chord with the impact it makes about modern war.
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