Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles” as Want to Read:
Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  7,814 Ratings  ·  528 Reviews
A memoir of the Gulf War by a front-line infantry marine recounts his struggles with the conflict on the front lines, his battles with fear and suicide, his brushes with death, and his identity as a soldier and an American.
Audio Cassette, 0 pages
Published October 18th 2005 by Simon & Schuster Audio (first published January 1st 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Jarhead, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Jarhead

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who passed an opinion on that war
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: saw the film and liked it. Read the book same goes
Ahoy. So listen up grunts...

I'm lying on my rack in my skivvies and I'm paging through this book with my dick-skinners while occasionally stopping to pop a rhubarb and custard sweet into my cum receptacle. This is not the suck. It is merely a book about the suck. You'll be able to tell the difference because you will not be getting friendly fucked whilst reading this book and there should be a distinct lack of sand, gasoline or a 120 degree temperature. Obviously if you have chosen to read this
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Jumpin' Jack Flash, it's a gas, gas, gas...'
- The Rolling Stones

- Soldier's warning cry

Ex-US Marine and author Anthony Swofford says in this book that he hated it when the 'flyboys' would play rock 'n' roll songs at full blast to intimidate the enemy and bolster their own morale. This music, he says, is a relic of another era and another war and has no place in 'his' war. Fuck the Doors, he says, this already is the other side.

I can understand this feeling. The gung ho Hollywo
A few years ago I watched the movie Jarhead and was pleased to find the book was much better. I don't think this book is for everyone, but speaking for myself it is among the best autobiographies I have come across, regardless of the style or subject matter. Rather than sell his story or this work, I'd like to respond to two of the general themes that I see in the reviews.

First, I feel the book was very carefully organized, perhaps I could say crafted. Swofford does not tell his story strictly
Will Byrnes
A very effective, intimate story of war as told from the point of view of a grunt.
Dec 06, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Welcome to the Suck.

Being a jarhead is frustrating. At least, that's what been described so vividly by Anthony Swofford.

Jarhead means a member of the United States Marine Corps. When used by civilians it could be considered derogatory, but it is used often among Marines. The term originates from the "high and tight" haircut that many Marines have, which makes their head look like a jar. It did NOT originate from their uniform or cover.

This book reminded me of another novel, Catch-22, although no
SoManyBooks SoLittleTime (Aven Shore)
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone in love with a Marine, or planning to marry one
Although it's possible that the Marine Corps is "different" now, and of course I believe that this book does not represent the experience of all Marines, I have it on good authority that it tells the story of many Marines, and it's an important story.
The Marines I know- plagued by nightmares, handicapped in relationships, fighting addictions - corroborate. They know two conflicting things to be absolutely true: they are the most special of all- the elitist of elite, and they are utterly disposa
This book and the movie it inspired will always be at the top of my list. This is the most realistic look at war from the viewpoint of any service member. You join the military thinking I'm gonna go kick doors in, blow stuff up, and end human lives when in all actuality most service members never see combat of any type. Mind you in this book and in the movie the author and his unit get mortared and shot at a couple of times but nothing major. The biggest thing that I love to point out about this ...more
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having seen the film years ago, I'd always wanted to read the book. Would it bring a different perspective? Would it add to what I saw and understood from the film?

Yes. Yes it would. Yes it did.

I've always been one of those girls who's pretty vocal about not understanding why men choose to join the military; who tries to argue that surely there's a better way out of whatever it is you're escaping than fighting other men? I never understood what was going through a man's head to want to kill.

Mar 31, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Anthony Swofford's memoir of being a Marine grunt/sniper in the Gulf War is a tedious read. The depiction of the Gulf War feels correct: an over-hyped, oil-driven war that turned out to be completely anti-climactic. Swofford and his fellow marines (did I almost write "machines"?) felt cheated, in the end, because instead of the death, danger, and glory they were promised, the Gulf War didn't end up being an infantry war at all — it was an air-and-armor turkey-shoot, and ended in far less time th ...more
If you go into this book expecting fire fights, skirmishes, battles and sorties, then you are coming at this book from the wrong direction, or you have the wrong book.
Jarhead is what the title says it is. A book about a Jarhead. A young man in the service of the United States Marine Corp. Don't go into the book expecting anything but that. It concerns a Marine's journey towards becoming a Marine and a Sniper and who then joins the boots on the ground in the Middle east for the Gulf War conflict
Jun 16, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this book zero stars I would. This has nothing to do with the 1st gulf war. It has to do with the ramblings of an immoral, narcissistic misogynist with a chip on his shoulder who should have been kicked out of the Marine Corps during 1st phase. He comes across as being one of those Marines we called the bottom 10% who made life hard for everyone else.

Swofford exaggerates or flat-out lies about many of his experiences, i.e. peeing his pants multiple times in boot camp, holding a g
Benjamin Solah
Mar 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is by no means an explicitly anti-war novel. It’s more an honest account and because the honest truth is that war is vicious and atrocious, an anti-war message cannot be hidden except through lies.

Anthony Swofford was a U.S. sniper during the first Gulf War and Jarhead tells his story of life in the Marines and fighting in this war. His whole experience in coloured by power-hungry and vicious officers, rowdy nights out with fellow Marines and of course, the in your face brutality of killing
Jul 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
This is some of the very best war writing, and hence reading, I have ever encountered. An added bonus for me was listening to the Recorded Books, LLC version with Swofford himself narrating. Unlike some (even outstanding) authors, Mr. Swofford is a superbly accomplished reader as well, which made hearing the author's presentation of his work doubly enjoyable.

Swofford was a Marine sniper in the first Gulf War. He is unflinchingly honest in examining everything about the whole experience from boot
Jul 30, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
{Warning: Strong language} Once upon a time I read a review of the book Jarhead, by Anthony Swofford, which peaked my interest. DH Jeff was thoughtful enough to pick me up a copy. I'm glad he's not a marine, or at least anyone like Mr. Swofford. Honestly, I kept thinking, "what a horse's a-- this guy (Swofford) is." And, did I need any reminders that so many of our young marines will screw anything around - and I do mean anything? Especially while they're bemoaning their unfaithful women at home ...more
Kayla D
I didn’t expect to love Jarhead as much as I did but holy shit, this book was a spoonful of brilliant.

Swofford’s lyrical prose fused in with his profanity-laced philosophical musings and descriptions of day to day life in the marines was a riveting read. I had loved the movie adaptation with Jake Gyllenhaal playing the lead but I loved the book even more.

Just…no words for this. None at all. It was that amazing.
I don't know.
#1 How much of it was true?
#2 Is this crude language and behavior just part of being a Marine? The drill instructor in basic screams in his ear "faggot, addict, cum-sucker, bitchmaster, dickskinner, dickfuck, fuckforbrains, no pecker, and lilywhitebitch"; pornography is rampant, going to bars and "screwing whores" seems like a goal most of the Marines have, drinking is worse than in a frat house, the dead enemies are desecrated and stolen from, the leadership is not trusted nor trus
Jack Bell
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting book for multiple reasons. First and foremost, remember all those Vietnam War movies that came out in the 70s and 80s (Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Apocalypse Now) that were extremely anti-war, being as violent and coarse as possible, this book is like one of those movies, but it's about the Gulf War. Aside from that, it's very well-written and really makes you think.
Jan 09, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
The acclaimed memoir from a Marine who served in Operation Desert Storm. This book irritated the heck out of me; I found it completely overrated. The only compliments I can pay this book are twofold: first, it’s very readable – you should finish this in a sitting; secondly, there are moments where the book overcomes its myriad problems and provides clear insight into the thought processes and feelings that a Marine probably experiences. For instance, Swofford describes a moment after the war has ...more
Brianna Jensen
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review is for Jarhead by Anthony Swofford; published by POCKET BOOKS in 2005 at 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. After reading this memoir of Anthony Swofford I found that I can definitely recommend this book to others. Overall this text gives the reader an insight into a Marine’s preparation for war, and more specifically into their preparation for Operation Desert Storm. In my own opinion, I would say that this novel has it’s moments of excitement in the plot and other ti ...more
James Korsmo
This is not an easy book to read. That doesn't mean it isn't well-written, which it is, or that it lacks action, because it doesn't. Instead, it is an often uncomfortable book. It dispels the illusion we all harbor to one degree or another that war is noble and that warriors are likewise noble. Instead, Swofford recounts his own experience in the Marine Corps, first as a line grunt in training and then as a member of the elite Surveillance and Target Acquisition Platoon (that is, a member of the ...more
Leslie Montes
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who enjoy war books
Recommended to Leslie by: My senior English teacher
Jarhead by Anthony Swofford

A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles
by Anthony Swofford
Published: 2003
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-1340-7
ISBN-10: 1-4165-1340-X
Publisher: Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

This memoir written by Anthony Swofford tells the story of his life on the front-lines of the first Gulf War from August 1990- April 1991, while he was a part of the U.S. Marines Surveillance and Target Acquisition Platoon, Second Battalion, Seventh Marines. It is a rivet
Ziad Mougharbel
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Marine’s Chronicle Of The Gulf War And Other Battles
by Anthony Swofford
Pub Date: Mar. 4th, 2003
Publisher: Scribner

The memoir Jarhead by Anthony Swofford is a great authentic representation of what happened during the Gulf War from the perspective of a marine.

Due to the nature of the Gulf War it was much less gruesome, nevertheless it was still a war. Jarhead was a memoir and it talked a lot about the main character’s experience as a Marine in the Gulf War. The book ex
David Schroeder
Jarhead is a very realistic imagery story about being a Marine during the Gulf War, and the effect the war had on them. I rated Jarhead with a 3 because it was an exciting story, but didn't give a very good image for the Marine Corps. It made all soldiers look like drunks who have no self-control and didn't care about American values in any way, when in reality, most soldiers don't feel this way at all.

This book has quite a few strengths; it is exciting, and catches your attention quickly. The c
Apr 04, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've heard a number of enlisted Marines talk about how "realistic" this movie/ book is. Perhaps I'm a bit idealistic, but I think Mr. Swofford exaggerates in a very sincere seeming way in order to draw the reader to a familiar Vietnam-victimized-unknowing soldier being taken advantage of by the privileged few.

Yes, some of the urban-myths that Swofford claims to have occurred in his unit may have happened over time and among the hundreds of thousands of short & long Marine careers. But I dou
Judith Johnson
Nov 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first heard of this book when I listened to Anthony Swofford guesting on Libby Purves' BBC Radio 4 programme Midweek. He sounded like a really thoughtful, decent person and I bought his book some time later. It sat on my to read shelf until a week or so ago when I was heading out to Paris for a visit to the Marne Battlefields (World War One). I've read a lot of WW1 memoirs, and it struck me this would be a good book to take out there - that we all owe it to modern soldiers to learn something o ...more
Mar 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, biography
A very candid and open account of life during the first Gulf war. The book is written as though the author is there in front of you telling you his story. His description of life in the Desert and how people passed the time and coped with the seemingly never-ending waiting is interesting, enlighting and slightly disturbing. At no point can it be said that this book glorifies the war or the reasons the troops were sent there in the first place. A very valuable insight into the mind of a Marine an ...more
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a classic case of book being better than movie. I read the book before I saw the movie and the movie was disappointing. I have praise for Swofford on his ability and it was good to see a fellow Marine (though I don't know him personally) write an account of Operation Desert Shield and Storm. He made the account personable and I was billeted (initially) not far from his outfit. I recall the fight that broke out after the unfortunate event with the Marine and the video of his wife with ano ...more
Shawn King
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Im not really the reading type but when i got into this book i couldnt stop reading.I dont think ive ever recomended a book but this is one book that i wouldnt mind reading again.This book is based on a true story,about a young man going to the Marine's.I really think this book could be good for slow readers and beginners.This book starts out really slow but when it gets better you wont want to put it down i promise please try this book.
Swafford somehow managed to write a war story that didnt make me miss the army. I think he was too crude, and focused too much on the reasons he hates the marine corps (doesn't everyone love and hate the corps? Where was the love?)
Feb 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: David
i couldn't say whether or not i mostly liked this one because every other line resonated in my military brat heart. but possible bias aside, swofford has a very confident writing style that i think will only get more fluid and compelling with time.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
who are Swofford's influences? 1 4 Dec 02, 2015 10:43AM  
Novel Response 4 - Tati 1 2 Mar 18, 2014 12:00AM  
Novel Response 4 - Tati 1 1 Mar 17, 2014 11:52PM  
Novel Response 2 - Tatiana 1 6 Feb 18, 2014 11:06PM  
  • One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer
  • The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier's Account of the War in Iraq
  • Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America, and the New Face of American War
  • This Man's Army
  • Making the Corps
  • Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War
  • Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent Into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death
  • Just Another Soldier: A Year on the Ground in Iraq
  • Chasing Ghosts: Failures and Facades in Iraq: A Soldier's Perspective
  • My War Gone By, I Miss It So
  • One Shot - One Kill
  • Joker One: A Marine Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood
  • We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah
  • Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military, from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond
  • An American Requiem: God, My Father & the War That Came Between Us
  • First Great Triumph
  • Task Force Black
  • Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War
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.
More about Anthony Swofford...
“My despair is less despair than boredom and loneliness.” 49 likes
“If while alive you hurt or disappoint people you love, there's no use continuing such behavior when you're dead.” 37 likes
More quotes…